The Arts

Stories of the Past, Present, and Future

Mural Series Background and Philosophy
The Mission Merchants Association, with initial support from the San Francisco Neighborhood Beautification Fund, is in the final stages of the 21st Street Mural Project designed to act as an important piece in continual efforts to revitalize the Mission neighborhood. San Francisco has a long standing tradition in the creation of public murals reflecting the many cultures of this city. Over the course of the last four decades, murals have provided important vehicles for communicating a range of critical messages both practical and spiritual. Painting styles and iconography have illustrated the contemporary and historical human condition utilizing a range of painterly approaches, many of which were borrowed from well known Mexican painters and artists of ancient cultures from around the world.

The 21st Street Mural Project is intended to further the continuum of mural development through the creation of a series of murals addressing an age of a new renaissance and self determination. Following the path laid by the many murals which have illustrated the difficulties of the human condition, this series of murals focuses on what we aspire to and envision in an environment which nurtures the evolution of the human condition. While this may seem a minor shift, it is in fact a difficult one as a good deal of our collective time is spent on our relative survival. Little time left to imagine the specifics of what is missing in our approach or what elements encompass true living. This is the central theme and intent of the mural series. One outcome of placing the mural series on portable panels is that we raise the question of where the line between community and fine art intersect.

Mural Series Specifics
In response to the stated focus, the sponsors of the 21st Street Mural Project imagine that elements such as celebration, internal knowledge, inter-relationships, rites of passage, re-generation, cross cultural resources and spirituality may fuel the artists color pallet and exploration of new iconography. These concepts may also effect the nature and approach to youth involvement.

Dream, a 16' by 20' mural by Daniel Galvez on portable panels surrounded by a youth executed 2' border is the seventh mural in this project. The first mural, at the entry to Bethany Center, was completed in mosaic tiles by the celebrated and revered Mission artist Ruth Azawa in 1969 and named Growth in 1994. Youth involvement is an essential element in the concept of this project. The ninth element of public art will be integrated into the new building scheduled for the corner of 21st and South Van Ness Avenue being developed by the Mission Housing Development Corporation (MHDC). The juried mural site is located on Bartlett between 21st and 22nd streets. The steering committee hopes to announce selection criteria for the 10th mural in the project and 2nd on the Bartlett parking garage sometime in the Fall of this year after plans for raising additional funds are finalized.

Artist's Statement
My intent as an artist has been to communicate through art the strength and dignity of individuals while seeking to generate a sense of community and respect for each other. By identifying who we are and who our neighbors are, an awareness can develop which reinforces our understanding of our differences, even as we become aware of our similarities.

In creating public art, I have sought to give expression to other's traditions and ideals of themselves.

In painting Dream, I wanted to give voice to the hopes and dreams of our young people today as they work toward independence and individuality while honoring twentieth century heroes.


Murals Forming the 21st Street Mural Project - 1996

1. "Growth" Bethany Center, NE Corner of Capp St. at 21st street

This first mural was designed by the celebrated Mission artist Ruth Azawa in 1969 for the Bethany Center, a low income senior housing center.. The outstretched tree branches of this mosaic tiled mural is now the quaternity themed emblem of Bethany, who will continue to participate in the 21st Mural series by hosting the tallest mural in the Mission, whose design was unveiled in June 1996.

2. "Alto al fuego/Cease-fire" NE Mission Street

Painted by well know Mission Muralist Juana Alicia, this mural of two large human hands trying to block the battalion of guns pointing at the body of a young girl walking through the fields was painted in 1988 in response to ongoing war in Central America.

3. "Our roots are still alive" NW corner of 21st and Mission Streets

This mural was painted in 1991 by the Break the Silence Mural project, a group of talented artists including Miranda Bergman, Susan Greene, Debra Mirov, Beth Sauerhaft, and Marlene Tobias. This controversial mural of wildly galloping horses passing through a crumbling prison into the rejoicing arms of celebrating Palestinians was a collaborative project of community artists dedicated to the Palestinian people and their hope for an independent Palestinian state.

4. "Music and Flowers" NE corner of 21st at Mission

This mural depicting a bouquet of international musicians blooming alongside roses, peonies and daisies under a San Francisco skyline was designed and painted by Susan Greene and Barry Hazard in 1991.

5. "Watcha wanna do-never stop learning" Bartlett Street between 21st and 22nd streets. Painted in 1993 as part of the Precita Eyes Youth Arts mural project, this mural using the wide style lettering and graphics usually associated with spray can art is a visual bridge between youth and the Mission mural arts scene. Francisco Carrrasco directed this murals' design and painting.

6 ."Our roots grasp the good earth", Bartlett Street between 21st and 22 nd streets

Painted in 1993 Under the direction of Catalina Gonzalez, this mural showing two feline eyed girls was developed as part of the Girls Mural Workshop (now called the Youth Mural Workshop.)

7. "Dream" Bartlett Street between 21st and 22nd streets

The 21st Street Mural Project Steering Committee was elated when locally based, internationally known muralist Daniel Galvez agreed to complete an anchor art work for the prime corner spot of 21st and Bartlett. The work which suggests the collectively arrived at idea uniting the children with the community spirit through artists and heroes has been beautifully executed in a distinctive Daniel Galvez style. Using many tools including the computer, Daniel's work has an underlying harmony which some people call magic.

8. Untitled Bethany Center, NE Corner of Capp St. at 21st street

A long process of dialog between artist Dan Fontes and Bethany Senior Center has resulted in a striking vibrant depictions of active multicultural senior life set with a "tromp l' oeil" rendition of an ornate art deco theatre facade. His realist style is influenced by Daniel Galvez, Frederick E. Church and Rene Magritte. Dan plans to complete the mural by the end of 1996 doing most of the work himself. This mural will be eight stories tall and has gathered some local notoriety because of frequent references to it as the tallest mural in the Mission.

Dream Dedication
by Johnny Brannon

A new mural unveiled last week is one of several colorful works planned for the Mission District, a neighborhood fast becoming known for its large collection of public artwork.

"Dream", created by nationally recognized muralist Daniel Galvez, graces the wall of a public parking garage at the corner of 21st and Bartlett Streets.

The 16-by-20 foot mural depicts a woman painting a portrait of Nobel Peace Prize winner Rogoberto Menchu, a human rights activist in Guatemala, and a man sculpting a bust of Cesar Chavez, the late United Farm Workers union president. The mural also depicts a newborn baby, and a young man working at a computer terminal.

Honoring dreams and heroes
The idea behind the work is to "give voice to the hopes and dreams of our young people today as they work toward independence and individuality, while honoring 20th-century heroes," said Galvez, whose past works include "Carnaval," a 24-by-76 foot mural at 24th Street and South Van Ness Avenue, and many others throughout the United States.

"Dream" was sponsored by the Mission Merchants Association, the Mission Economic Development Association, the Department of Parking and Traffic, and the Neighborhood Beautification Fund, and is the seventh installation in a series of murals created in the area surrounding 21st and Mission Streets.

Mayor Willie Brown, who attended the symbolic unveiling of the piece, said he hoped "Dream" and the Mission's dozens of other murals would help the neighborhood attract more visitors.

"I hope public art in the Mission will be keenly placed and information provided to tourists", he said. "I would also guess that this will be the backdrop of lots of movies. Part of getting the flavor of the city includes public art in the Mission.

More murals planned
Another mural - which at eight stories high will be the Mission's tallest - is planned for the walls of the Bethany Center, a senior housing complex at 21st and Capp Streets.

The work, according to artist Dan Fontes, will celebrate the lives of the center's residents and include portraits of the seniors living there.

The Bethany Center's entrance is the site of a tile mosaic created by celebrated Mission artist Ruth Azawa in 1969. The mosaic, called "Growth", is considered the first work in the 21st Street series.

Another new project is being planned a few blocks away, around the three entrances of the Redstone Building at 16th and Capp streets. That effort is being undertaken by the Clarion Alley Mural Project (CAMP), a group of local artists who were recently awarded a grant from the Creative Work Fund for the project.

CAMP's mural design will incorporate the history of the Redstone Building, which is home to many theater and non-profit groups.

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