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The Coolest Kitch House

The following mini-series of In Between Days involved Nami trying to buy her first condo in San Francisco. This article from SFGATE ( San Francisco Chronicle) is just right reference for the project.
Peeples-Bright was born Maija Gergeris in Latvia. She and her family immigrated to the United States at the end of World War II. She later enrolled at UC Davis to study mathematics but – entranced by an art class she took to fulfill a general education requirement – decided to become an artist. In San Francisco, she met Zack through a mutual friend. When they married in 1965, her father helped them buy the house on Steiner Street.

“It was kind of a custom in my country for the family to give the young folks a home,” says Maija, “so my father gave me $5,000.” The house, which sold for $17,000, became a gathering place for Maija’s friends and colleagues – artists associated with the “California Funk Movement” such as Roy De Forest, Manual Neri, David Gilhooly, Robert Arneson and William Wiley. Graphic artists Robert Crumb and S.K. Wilson were also among the crowd. An English professor at the San Francisco Art Institute, Zack also worked as an art critic for KQED-TV from 1965 through 1968.

Following a backlash against the wholesale demolition of Victorians in the Western Addition, the city created a redevelopment zone and offered low-interest loans to residents interested in fixing up their homes. A representative of the agency suggested that Maija paint her home beige.

“That’s not what I had envisioned,” says Maija. “I liked color. I decided to paint it multiple colors.”

A friend who worked in a supply store helped her find marine enamel paint in a multitude of colors. She had a painting crew erect a scaffold and prime the exterior. Then she went to work. Friends pitched in. Occasionally, passers-by did the same.

“I often found myself with someone climbing up on the scaffold saying, ‘What can I do?’ ” recalls Maija. “I’d give them a coffee can with some paint in it, a brush and say, ‘Paint that window trim blue.’ ”

When the exterior was done, Maija moved inside and started painting murals on the ceilings upstairs. Colorful renditions of cartoon-like figures of herself, her husband and their dog, Woof, along with fantasy creatures Maija calls “Beasties” engaged in various adventures, the murals were titled “Beast Volcano Ceiling,” “Beast Rainbow Ceiling” and “Penguins Barking up an Eel Tree Ceiling.”

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