Written by Arkadii Archie Maznev
Gregangelo Herrera and other San Francisco local artists built, decorated and spilled every bit of his personality into every crevice. A single ceramic mosaic floor and walls in the bathroom took Greg almost 6 years, and this house has belonged to him since his teenage years. For 42 years he’s been building more and more pieces that add up to a complete whole. Years of history - “Summer of Love”, AIDS epidemic, ongoing crime. All this was experienced by “them”, but the house in a sense served as protection for him from every bad thing of the day, as well as for all the other people whom “they” sheltered. Greg, like his house, is a product of history and this whole story is in his heart, in his memory, and therefore in the heart of the house, in his inner wooden frame of remembrance. The house breathes and lives and has a voice. But I don’t want you to think of it as something scary, decrepit and as old as the house in Monster House. No.
This house is still young, and like its owner, still glows with the gold of youth and the genius of
creativity. Liveliness and youth are visible in the movement of foliage around its shutters. The
embodiment of history and talent all rolled into one. But years pass and the world is not changing for the better. Covid became one of the biggest hardships for Greg, but he did not give up, because for Greg the museum is his home and life - a life full of art and color.
After listening to the last of Greg’s stories about his life and his home, I smiled. That’s all I could do because I was unable to speak a word. Looking around at me, Greg said that he would not forget about me, so I should try not to forget him either. Standing up, I shook his hand, looking him straight in the eyes. This was but an instant, but it was deeply significant. I realized that I myself became a part of this house, a part of “their” life, like many hundreds, maybe thousands of people who worked and came within these walls.
Having said my last words of farewell and gratitude, I left the house with an aftertaste of melancholy and cheerfulness. I walked towards the pavement along the same granite path. With each step I increased my speed without even knowing why, as if my legs wanted me to get out of this place as soon as possible. But as soon as I stepped foot on the sidewalk, I instantly turned around. It seemed that someone was watching me. I stared at the house, at its lawn and windows, and I remembered the words that Greg had told me 20 minutes ago. From the very beginning of Greg’s career and his home, a girl who lived next door went to their performances. Years passed and the girl turned into a woman, and slowly into a granny.
And for all these years, she never missed a single performance, and always supported Greg in any situation. A year ago she passed. The last time she came inside the house she could no longer walk and was taken in a carriage, although she was breaking out of their hands and saying that she could walk on her own. No matter how bitter it is, time and the coronavirus did their job, but it doesn’t matter, since the house and Greg will keep her memory forever, until they themselves sink into oblivion, but even after that, these two creatures will remind us of their existence either one way or the other. With these thoughts, I sighed heavily and drew out, still looking into the face of this house. Will I stay in the history of the world and art as well as Greg and his house? Will I be able to influence someone the same way they influenced me? Will I find the strength in myself to become who I want and remain such as they are?
Finally, I turned my back to the house and walked slowly along the road towards the bus stop. I wanted to honor the place where I have been today and therefore I did not destroy the calmness of the silence of this sleeping area with the loud sounds of my skateboard. I decided to find answers to my questions that were caused by this house. And I found them. You will also find them, because they exist where there are magical housepeople who live their own lives and people who are no longer with us. In our hearts.
Photos by Zoart Photography and Amy Carr