Beagle Discovers Beautiful Old Mosaic in San Francisco Park
San Francisco's Mission District is chockablock full of murals and mosaics, with many restored to their original glory after years of neglect. And undiscovered gems are still out there -- sometimes it just takes the right kind of sleuth to find them.
Like Huxley, a three-year-old Beagle.
He was walking with his owner David Schweisguth in Franklin Park one day in 2006, and he fixed his attention on this weird concrete slab on the ground, covered by a tarp, which was functioning as a makeshift potting table, according to a story in Mission Local.
Huxley knew something was up with that slab. Maybe it was a decades-old mosaic created by the artist Anthony Stellon, commissioned by San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto in 1968 to occupy a prime spot in the Luther King Jr. Recreation Center in Bayview-Hunters Point? Could it be, the dog wondered, the long-lost Brotherhood of Man?
Huxley wanted to know. He pawed at the tarp covering the slab until Schweisguth finally removed it.
“You could see it was a mosaic,” Schweisguth told Mission Local. “But it looked like it was just a throwaway piece.”
Nevertheless, Schweisguth altered the group Friends of Franklin Square, who was restoring the park after decades of neglect. Indeed, it was Brotherhood of Man, and the group decided to spearhead a fundraising effort to restore and reinstall the mosaic.
The price tag for the full effort was put at $115,000, but over the years the money came in, primarily through private donors, a partnership between the San Francisco Arts Commission and the San Francisco Art Dealers Association, and the Board of Supervisors.
And in October, the piece was finally unveiled, now beautifully restored and residing in Franklin Square's playground at 16th and Bryant Street. A reception drew community members; the late artist's wife, Mia Stellon, and their son Marc; and Huxley. The Beagle, now nine, came with Schweisguth and his other dog, Wallace.
“It’s really been gratifying,” Schweisguth told Mission Local. “It’s been so long, but it actually happened.”
When asked what the piece meant, Mia said "the unity of humankind."
“He was sad that people had to kill each other,” Mia Stellon said. “He didn’t believe in war.”
The mosaic has finally been put back into public service, all thanks to one dog with a nose for art (or potting soil -- it could have been that).
Via Mission Local