Paige Bierma’s “A Brush with the Tenderloin” Will Touch Your Heart!

Article by Cindy Maram

Muralist Mona Caron, Tenderloin resident Lisa Demb, Director Paige Bierma. Photo by Tom Pendergast

Muralist Mona Caron, Tenderloin resident Lisa Demb, Director Paige Bierma. Photo by Tom Pendergast

A Brush with the Tenderloin” directed by Paige Bierma is a short documentary film screening at the Mill Valley Film Festival on Sunday, Oct 16th, 2011 at 1:00 PM at Smith Rafael Film Center, San Rafael, CA. It will be part of a three part series, “The Barber, the Brush and the Baton.”

The film closely documents a mural project in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district. The artist, Mona Caron, was specifically chosen to paint this mural across from St. Anthonys, a church that helps the community by providing meals to the homeless. As Caron paints, she ends up interacting with the various people in the Tenderloin community. With each and every person she interacts with, Caron is inspired by their various stories and personalities. Treasuring the uniqueness of each personal interaction and the relationships that she forms during this project, Caron incorporates these people into her mural. This mural is not merely a superficial painting, but as the artist emerses herself in the Tenderloin environment, the mural tells the story of the district’s past, present and future, documenting the happenings and stories around her.

Director Paige Bierma is able to explain the artistic thought process of a street artist through this mural project and how a street painting develops as the artist inteacts with the community around her. Bierma pulls the film together by focusing on people’s colorful personalities on the streets of the Tenderloin, which is extremely touchinig to watch. As one views the film, one begins to identify with certain individuals, not merely ignoring them as many people so often do with the homeless community. Viewers are pushed to really understand their stories and how they have ended up without homes. The film explains how many of the homeless have chosen not to live indoors, but instead have consciously chosen to live in the harsh outdoor conditions of San Francisco’s Tenderloin district. The importance of human interaction is a running theme throughout the film. Through this movie, the viewer is inspired by the mural artist and her perspective of the Tenderloin district expressed through her painting. Bierma does a fantastic job of telling the rich story of the Tenderloin through the perspective of an artist that touches the hearts of those who watch her film.

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