SAN FRANCISCO | San Francisco’s Mission District has one of the highest concentrations of street art of any neighbourhood in the world. Over 500 murals from the early 1970s through to today touch upon a variety of themes from the social and political, to the historical and fun. Down alleyways, on main streets, in full view on large buildings and hidden in unassuming spots, there’s fantastic street art everywhere in the Mission District.
There is a lot to take in, but don’t be overwhelmed by it all. My guide to the Mission District murals & street art will help you find some of the best and most important pieces in the area. Of course street art is a live and evolving thing, and I encourage you to go beyond what I’ve set out – you never know what you might find.
Balmy Alley has been home to street art murals since 1972 and is today home to the most concentrated collection of murals in San Francisco. The art here focuses on womanhood, beauty, and socio-political change, indigenous Central American cultures and a protest of US intervention in Central America, and topics like gentrification and police harassment.
Clarion Alley is one of the best places for street art in San Francisco‘s Mission District due to the important messages told by the many murals. The art here supports and conveys political, economic, and social justice messaging and gives visitors a real sense of some of the issues facing the community.
Balmy Alley and Clarion Alley are by far the two most well known spots for street art in the Mission District, but there are plenty of other alleys in the area featuring a wealth of street art. Caledonia, Cypress, Lilac, Osage, and Horace Alleys all features artwork from artists like Musk, Nekst, MAGS, 7Seas, Hyde, Zore, Twick, Dvote and more. Beyond the alleys, also keep an eye out on the main streets – you never know what you’ll find.
The Women’s Building MaestraPeace Mural
The MaestraPeace Mural covers the entirety of the Women’s Building and dates back to 1994, when it was painted by seven local female artists. It was created as as a symbol of the contributions of women from around the world throughout history and fiction.
The Carnaval Mural above the House of Brakes on 24th and South Van Ness streets was created in 1983 by muralist Daniel Galvez and a team of local artists. It’s based on local photographer Lou Dematteis’ photos of the inaugural Carnival celebration in 1979 and is a celebration of the event. Also known as “Golden Dreams of the Mission”, the Carnival Mural was restored in 2014 and is an important part of the mission’s history.
Precita Eyes Mural Arts and Visitor Center
Precita Eyes are a not-for-profit based organisation who work to enrich and beautify urban environments and educate the public about the process and history of community mural art. They are involved in the creation of new murals, preservation and restoration of old murals, and offer tours that educate visitors about the history, process, impact and preservation of mural art. At the centre itself you’ll find several works by local artists, and can enrol in art classes.