I Am San Francisco: Ron Moultrie Saunders | San Francisco Travel
Ron Moultrie Saunders holding leaves.

I Am San Francisco:
Ron Moultrie Saunders

A photographer who works without a camera, Ron Moultrie Saunders is a founder of the 3.9 Art Collective.

Blending his landscape architecture with his advocacy for the community, Saunders believes cultural creators are the heartbeat of any urban center.

The African American community has been a formative influence in shaping the culture of San Francisco since the Gold Rush. Legendary black jazz artists like Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis and Billie Holiday come to mind for their parts in creating the soundscapes of the Fillmore and the Tenderloin. Cultural institutions like the San Francisco African American Historical and Cultural Society, the African American Art & Culture Complex, the Bayview Opera House and the Museum of the African Diaspora continue to play a significant role, as do many churches that were key to the Civil Rights movement in the ‘60s. African American culture is still deeply embedded in the cultural tapestry of San Francisco.

Ron Moultrie Saunders video still

I am Ron Moultrie Saunders and I am San Francisco

You are always welcome.

However, the city’s black population is diminishing, so much so that in 2010, a local paper estimated that the black population would eventually fall to 3.9 percent of the city’s total. This statistic caught the eye of Bayview artist Ron Moultrie Saunders and a group of his fellow artists. Ron teamed up with Nancy Cato, Rodney Ewing, Sirron Norris, and William Rhodes to form the 3.9 Art Collective. Their very existence is an act of resistance against the forces causing the African American population to dwindle.

A resident of San Francisco’s Bayview since 1985, Ron originally grew up in Jamaica, Queens. His artistic sensibilities, blended with his deep personal connection to nature, guided him toward the profession of landscape architecture. In later years, it would bring him to San Francisco, a place as diverse in the landscape as it is in culture. Landscape architecture requires one to work in concert with nature to design outcomes that serve the inhabitants of specific spaces. Ron’s work as a photographer and artist, in many ways, is in service of nature. His care for his subjects, whether discarded flower petals or a seed that has not sprouted, is guided by dignity and love. The outcomes he produces through the creative use of light allow nature to be seen anew. Through his work, the natural world’s intricacies and elegance become more accessible to the human mind and heart.

I like the topography and, it's a small place, only 49 square miles, and you can walk the whole city in a day, from one side to the other very easily.

Ron Moultrie Saunders smiling portrait

Today, Ron teaches art to the city's youth in hopes that the younger generation will work to preserve the artistic community as the city changes. The soul of the city depends on the strength of its culture. Ron knows this. His mission, and the mission of his fellow 3.9 artists, is to make sure the city never loses sight of what’s essential and what’s beautiful.

Hear Ron in His Own Words

The Golden Gate Bridge at sunset with a multicolored sky and the San Francisco Bay in the foreground.
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