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Newest Hunters Point artist-in-residence reflects on his midlife turn to art

Courtesy of Ira Watkins, resized and recropped
A painting by Ira Watkins, an artist-in-residence at Hunters Point Shipyard Studios


Self-taught artist Ira Watkins hails from Waco, Texas, but moved to San Francisco in the 1980s. That was when he started to paint, largely at the Tenderloin nonprofit Central City Hospitality House. Since then he’s never stopped — even when he spent several years living out of his van. His art celebrates and depicts the African American experience in paintings that reference Renaissance-era composition and iconography.


Ira now lives in San Francisco's Bayview neighborhood and is the newest artist-in-residence at the Hunters Point Shipyard Studios in San Francisco. He visited KALW to talk about his journey so far.


"The experience in life that I've had is about trying to get my foot in the door so that my kids, they can just walk through the door."

You can see Ira’s new work Saturday, October 14, and Sunday, October 15, at the open studios at Hunters Point Shipyard Studios in San Francisco.