Muni and Wendy MacNaughton’s Meanwhile in San Francisco
Image via Meanwhile, in San Francisco
We met artist Wendy MacNaughton back in 2010 when she illustrated a series of gorgeous, whimsical, and very San Francisco drawings done on Muni and BART. Since then, she’s done loads of amazing work, including Pen and Ink: Tattoos and the Stories Behind Them, written with Muni Diaries Live alum Isaac Fitzgerald (watch his story here). Her latest book, Meanwhile, in San Francisco, is an ode to the city we all know and love. Featured prominently at the beginning of the book, of course, is the personal story of a Muni driver.
The illustrations shows a day in the life of a Muni operator in his own words. From Wendy: “The driver is my neighbor, Edmundo. he lives just up the street from me – so I asked if I could join him at work. I went at the crack of dawn with him one day – before 5 a.m., I think it was.”
We asked Wendy in an earlier story about why she draws on public transit:
I went to an incredible art school for my undergrad (Art Center College of Design), but life took some turns and I stopped drawing for almost a decade. Years later, I found myself commuting from Oakland to San Francisco and back again on BART, with 20 minutes of free time each way and I started drawing the people I saw around me. It was like having professional figure drawing models, except with more interesting features, life histories in their eyes and ties, and they weren’t naked. I still have the first drawing I did — and I’ve drawn every transit ride since.
I draw on the bus and paint at home, using micron pens and watercolor, mostly, with some ink thrown around every once and a while. I don’t sketch. Everything I draw is permanent, for better or worse.
When I draw on the bus, generally people don’t notice. People are immersed in their thoughts or lists or regrets. Or their books. Or iPods, or games, or sleeping. If they do notice me drawing them, they usually smile. They might be a little embarrassed or flattered, or maybe pretend they didn’t see me, but the smile seeps out. A couple of people have been upset — either refused or got a little physical, But no permanent damage has been done.
Wendy’s drawings of San Francisco range from the farmer’s market and the bison at Golden Gate Park to the people you find at the public library. I can’t get enough of her illustrated documentary of the city that we love.