Five New Big Belly Trash Cans in Lower Polk Designed by Local Artists

If you’ve taken a walk around the Lower Polk lately, you may have spotted the newest additions to our neighborhood –  five Big Belly Trash Cans! 

From a practical standpoint, Big Bellies are a huge upgrade for our neighborhood. The “smart” trash cans are equipped with built-in trash compactors, enabling them to hold up to five times as much waste. Sensors are located inside of the bins to notify garbage collectors to when they need to be emptied. They are also more secure than our normal trash cans, which prevents them from being rummaged through and toppled over. The trash cans also collect valuable data to help assess the particular needs of specific locations, allowing the CBD to adapt to changing conditions in the neighborhood.  

Bigbelly’s suite of smart waste bins all communicate their real-time status and notify crews when they are ready to be collected. Having enough capacity and knowing when to collect streamlines waste management operations, increases productivity, and keeps public areas clean and green. 

While trash cans may not be every artist’s ideal medium for artistic expression, we saw the trash cans as an opportunity to transform the highly functional, utilitarian trash cans into objects of joy and delight. We worked with five local San Francisco artists – some of whom you may recognize from walls and canvases around the city. 

The Big Bellies were paid for by through a generous grant from the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development. 

Fnnch (@fnnch) 

Our first BigBelly Trashcan was designed by renowned local San Francisco Artist, Fnnch. 

When fnnch moved to San Francisco, he became obsessed with street art but felt there were not enough people pushing the art form forward. Deciding to be the change he wanted to see in the world, he hit the streets with multi-layered stencils and spray paint. Since then he has built a strong social media presence, has been featured on the cover of the SF Chronicle and by brands like J.Crew, TOMS Shoes, and Benefit Cosmetics, and has had gallery shows in San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles. His art can be found in San Francisco, LA, New York, Miami, Chicago, St. Louis, Tel Aviv and Hong Kong.

Fnnch deployed his signature honeybears all over this bin, located on Polk at Sutter. Fnnch’s honey bears come in all different colors and professions, and can represent some of the wide range of characters in our diverse Lower Polk neighborhood. Which honeybear are you? 

Yuka Ezoe & Naoki Onodera (@BahamaKangaroo)

The next BigBelly project artist is local duo, Bahama Kangaroo.

Bahama Kangaroo is a multi-media art project. It was founded in 2006 in the Mission district of San Francisco. By Yukako Ezoe and Naoki Onodera.   They often use humor in their visual art as a tool for communication, as they see liveliness in between their engagement between the public, their interest in Japanese folklore, and the western art tradition. 

Naomi and Yuka brought their playful and humorous style to this project, with their “global worming” visual pun. It is a playful reminder to think about our consumption, and how the things we throw away have a cost. Mother Earth is celebrating nature, and the worms are happily feeding off of Bay Area’s Coast Live Oak Tree with acorns. 

Diego Gomez (@Designnurd) 

The next BigBelly project artist is the neighborhood’s own wildly talented resident, Diego Gomez. Diego’s artwork can be found on California Street at Van Ness, right near the cable car terminus. 

Diego Gómez @designnurd is a San Francisco native, a graphic design graduate of the Art Institute, and a Professor of Fashion at City College of San Francisco. Diego is the creator of the civil rights comic book “1963 Is Not an End, But A Beginning: A Graphic History”, the fashion illustration book ”The Hard-Femme Ex-Men” & “Daddy Issues” magazine. In 2012 he illustrated live at the De Young Museum for the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit and in 2012 & 2015 he was Artist-in-Resident at Providence, Rhode Island’s “AS220”. This June Diego taught a fashion illustration class at the Apple store in Union Square for “Today at Apple”. You can find him all over cyberspace by using the handle @DesignNurd

Diego’s incredible imagery on this BigBelly emphasizes the beauty of the natural world: through the human form, through poetry, and through flora and fauna motifs throughout the piece. His piece truly transforms this utilitarian object into a lush, verdant moment for pedestrians in the midst of a busy urban street. 

Crystal Vielula (@CrystalVielula) 

Crystal Vielula ‘s BigBelly can be found at Polk at California Street. 

Crystal Vielula is a queer, San Francisco based artist and art educator. In 2019 she was selected as a MUNI artist. Vielula has been involved as a muralist with Clarion Alley Mural Project for over a decade and her current LGBTQ Pride mural is one of the most photographed in the city.  She works with a variety of mediums including but not limited to collage, painting, pen and ink, acrylic, textiles and is presently diving into the world of experimental film and performance.

Crystal’s playful anthropomorphic characters on this BigBelly pay homage to our neighborhood’s history as a destination neighborhood for the queer community. Famous locals that are referenced include Aunt Charlie’s Lounge and the Gangway, with our animal friends dressed for a night on the town. 

Rewina Beshue (@RGB) 

Rewina Beshue is a San Francisco based illustrator, artist, and graphic designer who grew up in San Francisco’s Fillmore district and  studied graphic design at San Francisco State University. Beshue dabbles in many different mediums within her artistic practice, and enjoys experimenting with mixed media and a range of tools; from paper and paint to printing and digital design. Her colorful imagery often explores the themes of time, space, and reality. 

In Rewina’s words: “I feel thankful to be given an opportunity where I can give back to the city that raised me. It is our responsibility as individuals to keep SF clean and positive. A clean neighborhood promotes positivity and good energy which is extremely important in minority and neglected neighborhoods like the Tenderloin.”