THE 415 Artist Talks: Twick

"In Loving Memory of Victor Suarez"
Graffiti-Mural by Twick

In San Francisco’s Mission district, graffiti snakes through the corridors and vibrant murals abound—each paint stroke a political prose or story told by loving hands. A local to the Mission, the artist, Twick commits his work to beautifying his community and representing his culture. As told by Twick, his creativity comes forth from his identity as a “modern day Mayan, Aztec artist,” both remembering his familial ties as well as his youth in San Francisco.

Mural by Twick

Last month, Twick unveiled his most recent mural: a portrait of Victor Suarez, paying homage to his old friend and the man responsible for reviving San Francisco’s iconic jacket, the Derby. On art and community, Twick delves into his childhood in San Francisco and life journey as an artist.

Born in El Salvador, Twick immigrated with his family to San Francisco’s Mission district at the age of three. Twick’s story details the threads essential to the fabric of the Mission—a multi ethnic community created by the waves of Latin American migrants who made the district their home in the later part of the 1900s.

Despite the changing landscape of the Mission brought on by the dot-com boom and now the influx of techies, community members like Twick remain resolutely, loyal to the neighborhood they call home.

With a twinge of nostalgia in his voice, Twick recalls running through the streets of the Mission in his youth and recounts his early start in art. In his childhood home, Twick says, “my parents would lay down some paper and crayons and I would be there for hours on end just drawing.”

Once high school came around, Twick ventured into student life at San Francisco's art school and became intrigued by graffiti as a potential medium. Twick says, “I chose graffiti because it’s a challenge trying to control the can. I fell in love with it and love the challenge.”

In fulfilling his calling as an artist, Twick now recognizes his art as a tool to representing his culture. Amidst the pieces he creates, Twick takes to depicting Mayan and Aztec Gods in his murals as well as honoring other cultures—peruse through China Town and you might come across Twick’s murals of Chinese lion dancers and warriors.

Mural by TwickThe common value, congruent amongst all of his pieces is his guiding principle that,

“Always as a graffiti artist, I want to beautiful my community.”

In the midst of life, fate would have Twick cross paths with Suarez and a close friendship quickly blossomed. With Suarez and Twick both kids once raised by the city, the two held an acute understanding of the Derby jacket’s meaning to San Francisco. Close with his father, Twick remembers his dad’s uniform as the brown Derby jacket from the ‘70s. But, outside of his house, the jacket was still unavoidable as all of the kids on Twick's street proudly wore Derby jackets.

In the revival of the jacket by Suarez, Twick kindly offered up his late father’s jacket to be used as a sample model in the re-production process. With the opening of the Derby store by Suarez, the new release took on it own meaning as defined by the late Suarez.

To SF Gate in 2012, Suarez said, “It’s not just for tough guys now. It’s everyone’s jacket—girls love it, young guys—people from the neighborhood…Once you wear a Derby, your whole attitude changes.”

Faithful to Suarez’s vision, the Haight and Ashbury, Derby of San Francisco store continues to thrive and welcome in new and old Derby lovers— and now, little ones as well with the kids release.

In the tiny shop, built around the restored cable car, the small, powerhouse team led by Jeannine Suarez, and manager, Edith Mariscal work to uphold the responsibility once named by Suarez. To SF Gate, Suarez said,

"The jacket means a lot to a lot of people. I feel like I have the weight of everyone's childhood memories. I have a responsibility with the Derby."

Faithful to the memory of Suarez -beloved husband, father and friend- Twick's  mural stands to commemorate the Suarez-Derby legacy. With the rebirth of the SF historic brand, comes a new generation of Derby wearers and the making of new memories. 

Visit Twick's mural at the Ashbury Market on the cross section of Ashbury Street and Frederick Street.

 

 Article by Sage Bliss-Rios Mace // blissrios.net // blissrioswrites@gmail.com