Sometime ago I was exploring San Francisco with my son to expose him to parts of the city he was not familiar with. We were on our way to a walk across the Golden Gate Bridge and wanted to have lunch somewhere with a bit of San Francisco history. I asked friends for recommendations and had suggested to us The Beach Chalet.
Located along The Great Highway right across from Ocean Beach, around the corner from the Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden and Dutch Windmill, sits this fascinating building - The Beach Chalet. As I entered the building I was suddenly surrounded by amazing murals. I had no idea they were there and did not know their history. We were immediately taken in by the subtle yet vibrant colors, the stylized painting, as well as fascinated by their depiction of what life was like at the time the area was being developed. The scenes were a walk through time. We studied them, engrossed in the emotion in the faces and how clearly each personality was portrayed.
I wanted to learn more. After a bit of online exploring I discovered the murals were by WPA French born artist Lucien Labaut, who also painted frescos in Coit Tower and at George Washington High School. Not only a talented painter, he was also an accomplished dress designer to San Francisco's high society. He and I actually had a lot in common! Those who know me may recall in a previous career I worked in high fashion as well.
What really struck me was his response when asked about the artistic limitations of working for the WPA art projects. He said “limitation forces one to think and therefore to create…Far from destroying the artist’s individuality, these limitations give him something to fight for. He must solve a problem. ” I can relate! This is a topic I have addressed in previous blog posts, in particular, my post about designing a sign for the outside of my office in Carmel, given the restrictions the city imposes.
Both my son and I found the murals fascinating! When you are exploring this area of San Francisco, I highly recommend that you stop and enjoy a brief walk through history that these murals present!
Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving!