Boris Koodrin's INNER VISONS

HOME | Utility Boxes | Artist's Biography | Satellite Dish Art | Magical Realism | Traditional | Portraits | Sports Page | Mini Landscapes | "Besitos" Hearts | Abstracts | Archives | Interviews & Press | Kelly Richey CD | "The Courage to Change" | "Dreaming From the Other Side" | MURALS | Interview-San Fran Voice | WebCeleb Interview | San Mateo County Fair | "Life Thinly Sliced" | TV Interview | An American Creator | Interior Doors | Screen Printing | Contact Information
Interview-San Fran Voice


Blogging San Francisco, California

May 27th, 2007

 Boris Koodrin is a painter and muralist who re-discovered his passion for art after taking a hiatus from it for over 25 years.  He had worked commercially in the art business (primarily in T-shirt screenprinting) but had lost sight of the creative drive that originally motivated his art.  Then, through his work with incarcerated teenagers, his passion was re-ignited.  Ever since, he's been actively creating beautiful pieces.  His work can be seen at

Here's what he had to say.

ON HIS ART . . .

I've delved into a variety of disciplines since I was quite young, including Eastern and Western mysticism and Apache tracking methods. I'm fascinated with the human psyche and understanding how to navigate the invisible. I guess you can say that much of my work reflects the power of nature and human consciousness, and the place where the two intersect.

As a self-taught commercial screen printer and fine-detail sand carver on glass, I have a great eye for detail. You can see that in all of my paintings. I love to improvise my way through a painting, although my work probably looks fairly planned to most people. The one constant you'll find in my work, however, is my desire to lift the human spirit. I want to inspire the sense of wonder in you when you stop to admire one of my paintings.

I started painting in 2000 after a 27 year hiatus. I've just started getting out there this past year and working to get established. I didn't start painting because I just couldn't live without it. On the contrary, I had never expected to paint again since I walked away from it in my mid twenties. In recent years I had been working with a SF non-profit organization ( developing a wilderness self-awareness and rites of passage program for incarcerated teenage males. One day, I realized that I was asking these guys to metaphorically walk through the fire, the very thing I had failed to do with my art. So I quit directing in order to paint. It was a rite of passage for me. Interestingly enough, it has developed into my life's passion.

To me the beauty of being here is all in finding the rabbit holes. I love to inspire others to discover the magic in their lives, especially young people - not only at-risk youth, but also affluent teenagers who are equally at-risk but in a different way. It's no accident that it was young people that gave life to my artistic passion.

It wasn't until 2005 that my art actually paid my bills for a year, although I had been selling art and taking commissions up until 1975. I spent the year (2005) painting a forty foot historical mural commemorating 150 years of Jesuit education in San Francisco (  Right now I'm still primarily supporting myself through commercial screen printing, mainly in t-shirt work. I've never liked doing commercial art very much, although I have occasionally done a t-shirt design here and there. I have a few notables out there like the SF Mime Troupe design from 1976 and more recently the "No Enemy" logo that's been floating around in certain circles. My first commercial art job was the design for the Rio Nido resort in Russian River in 1975. It recently made its way back to my shop after circulating around town for about twenty years. Talk about déjà vu!

I've worked from home since 1984 and I mostly do contract printing of other people's designs. I still enjoy it after 32 years. Bill Graham used to bring mountains of printed shirts over to our shop on 10th and Howard to heat set their inks. That was around 1976 when Winterland Productions was just a fledgling business. We'd hang the shirts on racks with metal hangers and roll them into a plywood room with 300 sun lamps and wait for smoke to start billowing through the cracks. That's how we knew they were fully cured. Pretty low tech, but it worked. I recently had been doing the shirts for TV's The Biggest Loser show. Those types of jobs sometimes help to pay the bills, but being a one-man manual shop does have its limitations. In the past I've done some national displays from my garage like the B of A Photocard stations that you used to see at branches all over the country. It takes a lot of energy to be that versatile. Today I'm mainly focusing on printing shirts while developing my own fine art, although I'll still take on an occasional interesting (and good-paying) project.

At this time my focus is painting on recycled interior doors. You can read a lot into that statement. After having painted the mural at St. Ignatius High School, I suddenly wanted to paint larger formats. My wife asked me to do something about the peeling door that led to the garage because we were having a party in a couple of days. The next morning she woke up to find it beautifully muraled with a romantic pastoral setting and a love poem silkscreened in metallic gold. I knew I had something. I have literally fallen in love with painting doors for other people to walk through.

My grandmother taught me to paint when I was very young. She was a traditionalist. Unlike my canvases, most of my doors are along the traditional line, mostly landscapes. Although I might add that my latest door is entitled "Ohm" and is rather surreal. It started as a tribute to psychedelic artist Rick Griffin, but halfway through morphed into something entirely different. It ended up as a tribute to South SF using an odd mixture of the psychedelic, genetic, and mystical symbols, with some Longhorn cattle thrown in for good measure. I don't know where these doors are going to take me, but it should be an interesting journey. My goal is to be known as a very accomplished local artist.


I've been showing my canvases and doors at different Bay Area venues most recently at South First Gallery in San Jose and the Eclectix store in El Cerrito. I did a two-month one-man show in the Caldwell Gallery at the Redwood City Civic Center last year. Right now I don't have any major shows lined up, but will be showing in smaller venues around town, so keep an eye out. I will be showing a few of my latest pieces at a one-night affair at The Mezzanine in SF on June 2 (  In terms of other artists work, I don't have a favorite gallery but Open Studios is a great way to see some fantastic local artists.


San Francisco is a unique place to grow up and the Sunset district had its own magic if you were willing to metaphorically navigate your way through the fog and stucco. Places that influenced me greatly as a kid were Playland at the Beach and Sutro's Museum with its Egyptian mummies. I was fascinated by those places. The sound of howler monkeys from the San Francisco Zoo mixed with the barking sea lions and fog horns sifting through the night fog and only heightened my sense of mystery. As I got older, the musical sounds wafting through my bedroom window on summer days from the free concerts in Golden Gate Park began to open other horizons for me. I think these experiences taught me something about appreciating the unusual.

So much of my inspiration has come from the City in one way or another. Many people go to great lengths to connect with something deeper amidst the great cathedrals of nature. For me, much of that connection has come from the City. I have found much of my spiritual expression in the marketplaces, the parks and the inner city. Sutro Park, Ocean Beach and Golden Gate Park have at times been my sanctuaries, and I have discovered personal spiritual vortexes amidst the concrete slabs of the most unlikely places in the inner city. I think having been raised here has left me with a keen sense of personal history and that somehow is translated to my art. The beauty and the strangeness of this place is obvious. I can point to specific places and recall extraordinary experiences from different times in my life and how they helped to make me who I am--the mystical, the mythical, and the mundane. There are so many snapshots that define a person. Somehow these all work together and manifest as my art, some are real, some imaginary ( "The Courage to Change").


Sometimes you'll find me at 19th and Harrison at the Vision Youthz office. I still do some work with incarcerated teenagers, although not as much as before. I live in San Bruno, but do spend a lot of my time in the City. My mother is 91 and still lives in our house in the Sunset, two blocks from the beach. We visit Louis' Restaurant next to the Cliff House often. Most of my time in the City is about connecting with people, so I'm more event-oriented. I sometimes teach a class on primitive fire making or animal tracking to teens, or an occasional tour of my Spiritus Magis mural at St. Ignatius for visitors or students. I also designed a class for high school students last year called "Through Ohlone Eyes" that I've taught at the restored Lobos Creek in the Presidio. I do spend time in the county park behind my home getting as close as possible to the wildlife.


What I have learned from experience is that hoping and trying are weak options in life. You need to have a real passion to get where you want to go and you have to know what you want.