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November 21, 2017

San Francisco: Diego Rivera Fresco at the City Club of San Francisco

Details of Rivera’s fresco at the City Club

In 1931,and his new wife, the painter Frida Kahlo, were invited to San Francisco, to produce commissioned work. At the City Club of San Francisco is the first mural Rivera produced in the United States. The fresco depicts the riches of California on what was then the stairway wall and ceiling of the Pacific Coast Stock Exchange Luncheon Club. There is irony in the location: A Hispanic artist with leftward political leanings created a mural with socialist themes in San Francisco’s “citadel of capitalism.”

The City Club remains a private club to this day and is not generally open to the public. Fortunately Rivera’s work can be seen twice a month during a very popular City Guides Tour. City Guides’ tours generally do not require reservations. But in this case, due to the agreement with the club that limits the number of visitors inside, the City Club tour requires pre-registration.

The mural is on the wall of the stairwell.

Rivera put dollar signs on the smokestacks on a mural in a stock exchange.

The opportunity to see Rivera’s mural is one of many reasons to go on one of the many City Guides walking tours of San Francisco. These tours are a way to get to know the ins and outs of San Francisco and its history. The tours are free, though there is a request for a small donation at the end to support the organization. The volunteer guides, who take no tips and receive no compensation, have a passion for the topics of their tours. Indeed, becoming a guide requires multiple days of training and costs $200. Imagine having to spend $200 to volunteer!

Full view of the mural, without the work on the ceiling

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