July 29, 2008

painted door, Mission District

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

As far as murders and gang violence goes, San Francisco's Mission District is probably right up there with the worst, but believe it or not it is actually possible to wander around the streets early in the morning in relative safety.

Today the demographics of the Mission District are approximately 50% Hispanic, 33% White, and 11% Asian; but for eons the area was inhabited by peaceful Ohlone Indians who spent their days hunting and gathering in the warm and sunny micro-climate that is sometimes referred to as San Francisco's "banana belt".   Of course, all good things seem to come to an end, so it was here that a Spanish priest named Father Palou founded Mission San Francisco de Asis on June 29, 1776.   Modern man brought with him his diseases and the concept of slave labor, so in a matter of a few years the substantial indian population dwindled to less than 100.

Today, between the rough-edges is a vibrant hispanic community, proud of their history and culture -- as they should be.   Hundreds of wildly colorful and vibrant murals decorate the area, and while ugly graffiti in the area is rampant, the taggers seem to respect the murals and generally leave them untouched.

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Your comments are invited and welcome.


kjpweb said...

Interesting shots! Do like especially the lower one!
Cheers, Klaus

Tomate Farcie said...

Great series! Did you go to Clarion Alley ? There are tons of murals there from one end of the street to the other, one entire city block, both walls. A must stop for every street painting enthousiast.

The Mission District is one of the most colorful neighborhoods but it's unfortunately in great danger of gentrification, like everywhere else, I guess. I don't know if you noticed but they're taking down smaller buildings and building higher ones with overpriced condos in them (sigh).

Tomate Farcie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tomate Farcie said...

oops, 2 for 1, sorry.

Sandpiper (Lin) said...

These are terrific! I enjoyed looking at your previous posts, too.

BouBou's said...

Beautiful! I love the colours in both, and the swirls in the top one.

The graffiti artists do respect murals, as do most of the taggers. Yes, I define them differently. The taggers just scrawl their gang name, initials or simply spray to muck things up. Very different from the ones that actually have some skill, even though both are illegal.

Local story. A business (one of many) was struggling with repeated tagging. Our city fines people or businesses if they don't remove these within a certain length of time, and the cost of cleaning it up was really cutting into her bottom line. So she hired five local teens to paint a mural on the wall, asking only that it be non-offensive. She was very happy with the mural - and best of all, the tagging immediately stopped.

The problem? One of the city council members has a degree in art. She decreed that mural was graffiti and the city told her to remove it or be fined. The neighboring businesses and locals even put together a petition to save the mural, but Art Degree Lady basically said 'I know art, and that's not art' and the council went along with her. The business owner had to paint over the mural, and the tagging promptly started up again.

Go figure.


SandyCarlson said...

These are gorgeous!

Marvin said...

The Mission District sounds like a neighborhood with a much character, including unsavory character you wouldn't want to encounter after dark. Great murals, though.

Louise said...

Love these shots, especially the "sun" one. I don't know if that's what it really is, but that's what it seems to be to me.

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