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December 31, 2018

San Francisco: Street Art


“In Memory of Pico Sanchez”, Mel C. Waters, Clarion Alley, 2010

Pretty much every major metropolitan city has street art. San Francisco is no exception. Like many upscale cities San Francisco’s street art tends to be confined to particular areas. Exuberant art does not spill out in all sorts of unexpected places like it does in rougher cities like Valparaiso Chile.

There are upsides and downsides to the urban art being segregated into zones. It’s less chaotic and easier find. The art impinges less on public and private property, which is good. At the same time editing art that is outside of particular areas means that some of the spontaneity and surprise is lost. A perfect piece of guerilla art needs an ideal location, not a predefined zone.

Guerilla art takes advantage of its location, in this case the sidewalk.

More guerilla art: An homage to Keith Haring is added to the dogs on leash sidewalk markings at Duboce Park.

There are other differences to the street art scene in San Francisco. The art shows a distinct Latin influence, not at all surprising given San Francisco’s diverse heritage. It also tends to be even more political with social causes often featured as themes. Undoubtedly the street art influences go back to the time of the socialist-themed Depression-era murals by artists such as Diego Rivera. Many of these New Deal sponsored art works have been preserved around the city; they are interesting to compare and contrast to the modern works on the streets.

The Allegory of California by Diego Rivera inside San Francisco’s City Club was completed during the Great Depression.

Part of the large MaestraPeace Mural on San Francisco’s Women’s Building in the Mission District. It was created in 1994 by a group of seven women muralists.

San Francisco’s street art can be found concentrated in various places around the city. The Mission District, a historically poorer neighborhood, is a good place to look. Particularly famous is Balmy Alley, though there are other places nearby in the Mission like Clarion Alley with numerous interesting works also.

Over the past couple of winters I’ve collected numerous pictures of San Francisco’s urban art on my hard drive. These are in the gallery below.

“The Tigers of Wrath are Wiser” by Mike Ritch: This work is located in Clarion Alley.

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3 Comments »

  1. I was there not long ago and saw some of this amazing work… thank you for bringing back such fond memories. – tsk

    Comment by Tony Starling Kidd — December 31, 2018 @ 7:54 pm

  2. The Mural “TRUE KINGS” was not by Graf I know this because the mural is of him because he had passed before I was born. I also know this because he is my uncle.-TK

    Comment by Amaru Ferrey — April 4, 2019 @ 6:35 pm

    • Thanks for the response. I’ve changed the caption. He must have been a great man.

      Comment by anotherheader — April 4, 2019 @ 6:55 pm


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