Decades ago, soon-to-be muralist Mona Caron relocated to San Francisco from Switzerland. Today, she lives around the corner from one of her first murals: Market Street Railway, located at Church and 15th streets.
While Duboce Triangle and her interest in neighborhood character is where her unexpected career as a muralist began, Caron later developed an eye for urban botanicals, which led her to rooftops around the city and in countries across the world.
Some of this wonderful drawings, if we observe them closer, reveal details that we can’t see before: they tell about the place in which they have been created, about the social life around them, about the possibilities of a future that eradicates nothing, instead a future that finds a place for everybody and everything.
Called Limonium, this flower mural covers 5 planes with luxuriant green-and-pink leaves.
“A Californian marsh rosemary, warbling the rectilinearity of the San José Convention Center. From an indoor sprout, to a young plant in the garage entrance cove, to a mature mother-plant by the street entrance, This 5-plane mural was commissioned by the City of San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs Public Art Program, and was installed with the support of Team San José, SJ Convention Center staff,” Mona Caron describes the mural on her personal webpage.
“In this case, I was inspired to break the strong rectilinearity of this very vast building, adding something that would warp all those straight vanishing lines, bending them into something that looks alive and organic, and transforming a closed corner into an open maze. I used only earth tones, mineral pigments, and kept the colors light on purpose, so it would blend into the existing building,” the artist said.
San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs posted about this brand new artwork on Facebook and wrote this: “The mural, located at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center along Market Street, is over 3300 square feet and honors ignored or overlooked flora in the valley. Her artwork brings recognition to and magnifies those bursts of life that proclaim their identity, that grow wild and natural through walls of concrete and asphalt, and remind us that allegiance to life is unbound.”
“Something not obvious about this 6-wall, 4-plane mural, is that there are actually 2 painted plants sharing the same stem of flower buds: the main plant faces the entrance to the Convention Center, but to its left there is a semi-enclosed cove, which is the entrance to the garage, and there’s another plant in there, with a flower stem that calculatedly appears to be a part of whichever plant you’re looking at. This 40-seconds video I posted on IG explains this visually. Similarly, I carefully drafted the rightmost flower stem and leaves to appear continuous when seen both from the street and from the upper terrace (again, easier to explain this with 2 pictures.) So I had fun addressing the various viewpoints of this piece for a fluid experience across many planes,” explained Mona Caron.
Turns out, the artist has a series of artworks called “Weeds” where she paints all kinds of humble flowers on buildings located not only in the US but such countries as Spain and Taiwan as well.
“I’ve been painting murals for 2 decades now, and I’ve gone through different phases and approaches over the years. This one is loosely tied to my Weeds series, which Bored Panda has featured in the past. It’s a series of portraits of so-called weeds, or autonomous plants, who grow where they want, without our permission, outside our control, reclaiming the land that our cement and asphalt have taken from nature,” said the artist.
Mona Caron often collaborates with local and international social and environmental movements fighting for climate justice, labor rights, and water rights, and selects plants that she finds in the cities where she paints.
When asked how much time it took to create this mural, the artist said this: “These days it usually takes me 2-3 weeks to do a mural, but this one took a bit over a month.”
This is part of a larger series of botanical-inspired murals, called Weeds, emphasizing the beauty of unseen plants.
“Mona Caron is a Swiss-born, San Francisco-based artist, using muralism, illustration and photography in both her art and artivism. Her focus is on community-informed and site-specific murals in public space. She has created large-scale murals in the US, Europe, South America and Asia, has delved into stop-motion animation as part of her “WEEDS” project, and co-creates visuals for street actions and outreach with social and environmental movements,” Mona describes her work on her webpage.