This month, prolific local artist Jeremy Fish has been hard at work, installing new pieces on building exteriors around North Beach to honor three departed neighborhood icons: Janis Joplin, Paul Kantner, and Carol Doda.
The first of the three pieces was requested by Fish's friend and neighbor Mairead Graham, owner of Maggie McGarry's Irish Pub (1353 Grant St.) Joplin, a North Beach regular in the 1960s, was famously photographed singing at the bar in one of its previous incarnations, and Graham asked if Fish could create a portrait of her for its exterior.
Fish drew up a portrait of Janis by hand, had it printed with UV ink on Plexiglass (to extend its longevity), and installed it a few weeks ago.
After creating the Joplin piece, Fish decided to also create portraits honoring two recently departed North Beachers: Kantner, a founding member of Jefferson Airplane who passed away in January, and burlesque dancer Doda, who died a year ago this month and who Fish says he “misses and loved very much.”
Doda appears on the back of another North Beach bar, Grant & Green Saloon (it's on the Green Street side), while Kantner's portrait is at Vallejo and Grant streets, outside what Fish says is the rocker's former apartment.
The new portraits were funded by Fish himself, who paid to make them “out of love and respect for the folks that made North Beach cool” long before he was born.
“My neighborhood changed the world, and as a middle-aged art dude, it’s my obligation to remind folks where the epicenter of San Francisco cool really is," he told us. "Long before this city invented the phone and all the apps the world uses every day, this city was famous for art and music. I am trying to help folks never forget how powerful SF really was, long before we became famous for programming apps, updating your status, and ‘liking’ some random shit."