New street art in San Francisco honors the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence

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The blessing of the new fnnch artwork honoring the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence
The blessing of the new fnnch artwork (Photo: Drew Altizer)

New street art has appeared in San Francisco to honor the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. It’s also helped to raise the group a chunk of cash.

The work is by the renowned San Francisco-based street artist, fnnch. The artist is best known for his trademark ‘honey bears’ that he has placed around the city. Over the last couple of years, his artwork has risen dramatically in value, and prints he produces typically sell out within minutes.

In 2020, he donated over $200,000 to charity, suggesting his earnings are considerably higher than this.

Sister Roma, artist fnnch and Sister Celine
Sister Roma, artist fnnch and Sister Celine (Photo: Drew Altizer)

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence first formed in San Francisco in 1979. A group of gay men in nun-like drag, they preached about the benefits of living authentic lives and warning against the dangers of religious moralizing.

They evolved into a unique mixture of charity, protest group, and street performance, with missions around the world. The San Francisco mission had donated thousands of small grants to community causes over the years.

The new artwork by fnnch (Image: fnnch)
The new artwork by fnnch (Image: fnnch)

The new artwork, which is one of fnnch’s honey bears in a nun’s habit and heavy make-up, was painted on the side of the gay bar, Powerhouse, on the corner of Dore Alley and Folsom. It was unveiled during a blessing ceremony on Saturday.

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“When you think of what makes the culture of San Francisco so cool, The Sisters come to mind,” fnnch told GayCities by email.

“They are emblematic of the spirit of the city. I love living somewhere where you can see a drag queen nun walking down the street. The simple act of doing that makes space for everyone to express their own unique selves.

“Amazingly, in addition to that, they are an active grassroots community organization, giving grants and support to other groups working on the frontlines of tolerance and human rights. It was an honor to work with them on the Sister Bear.”

Easter weekend is a big one for the Sisters, as they usually hold their ‘Hunky Jesus/Foxy Mary’ contest in Dolores Park on Easter Sunday. This year’s gathering had to take place online because of the Covid pandemic, but a number of members gathered for the launch of the artwork, along with the artist.

Sister Roma unveils the artwork outside Powerhouse in San Francisco
Sister Roma unveils the artwork outside Powerhouse in San Francisco (Photo: Drew Altizer)

“For more than 25 years the Sisters have stood as gatekeepers at the Dore Alley and Folsom Street Fairs, welcoming guests and collecting money for charity,” said Sister Roma. “It only feels fitting that the Sister Bear mural appear on the wall of the Powerhouse, the very epicenter of our SOMA community, as a beacon of queer history and joy.”

Scott Richard Peterson, the owner of Powerhouse, said he didn’t hesitate when approached to host the artwork.

“When Roma and the Sisters of Perpetual come to us for a project location/fundraiser we say yes, please and thank you! For years they have supported us and especially now in this pandemic it will give our little “PigPen” (parklet) so much-needed visibility!”

To coincide with the new Sister Bear artwork, fnnch also produced a limited-edition number of prints, which went on sale on Easter Sunday. According to fnnch spokesperson Mark Rhoades, the 50 paintings and 150 prints sold out in 60 seconds and raised $24,375 for the Sisters.

The Sisters are SO very proud to present, SISTER HONEY BEAR!!!!!

The Sister Bear Painting and Print will go on sale…

Posted by Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Inc. on Friday, 2 April 2021

 

This is not the first time fnnch has honored San Francisco’s LGBTQ community. Last summer he painted rainbow honey bears around the Castro to mark Pride season.

Related: Gay bars in San Francisco