November 05, 2009

Clarion Alley, Mission District, S.F.

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

Long before the Conehead family arrived on the scene, we had Mork and Mindy.   Oh, you remember that TV series where the typical Orcan boy meets the typical human girl and decide to shack-up together.   The program ran from 1978 through 1982, and I must confess that I did a whole lot of greeting people during that time period with Mork's "Na-nu na-nu".   I even occasionally said "shazbot", which is an Orkan curse word.   I think I even was saying "kay-o" instead of "o-kay" for a while.   I remember having a huge crush on Mindy -- crushes seem to be a recurring theme in my life...

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

Well folks, this is the famous Clarion Alley, located in San Francisco's largely Spanish speaking Mission District, just south of 17th. Street, between Mission and Valencia.

These are largely the works of a group of former San Francisco Art Institute students who organized in the 1990's around a common love of "street art".

Since then the term "Mission School" has been associated with these murals.   Mission School artists are know to use all sorts of painting materials, from cheap house paint to expensive artist's acrylics, and you can also find three dimensional objects in some of the murals.   Many panels have a political theme -- and some, like the dinosaur above are purely whimsical.

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

I'm not exactly sure that is going on in this mural, but if I had to take a guess I'd say it has something to do with the tumbling of society and blood for oil.   You might see something different.

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

Better put on your wading boots because I feel a story about my past coming on...

Way back in the late 1960's my boss, who owned a microscopically small art supply manufacturing company in San Rafael, developed a partnership with the USA division of the Politec Company, an equally microscopic manufacturer of artists acrylic paint.   The Politec Company was founded in the 1950's in Mexico, supplying water-based acrylic to the majority of the Mexican master muralists.

Up until that time artists such as Rivera, Orozco, and Siqueiros had been using solvent based automotive lacquers for their murals, but after the Rohm&Haas Company found a way to emulsify plastic with water, a man named Jose Guiterrez thought he could use this new water-soluble resin in the formulation of artists paints.   Jose had one basic belief about artist's paint -- that it should be flat and not shine, and to accomplish that he loaded up his paints with lots of mineral fillers such as marble dust, talc, and calcium carbonate.

Anyway, my assignment one or two days a week was to help Politec USA package their paint -- in those days I was quite good at squirting paint into jars and tubes.   Our little paint packaging factory was located near the corner of 14th and Valencia Streets, just a few doors down the street from the original Levi factory.

Way back in the 1960's the Mission District was just starting to get decorated with more and more murals -- many of them done with the Politec acrylic paint I was packaging.   Just look at the Mission District today -- it's really come a long way.   Colorful and expressive murals everywhere!

If you haven't seen them yet, I had a whole slew of Mission District murals on what I call my "big" site at:

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

Well, Cafe Prague isn't located in Clarion Alley, but I thought I would show this beautiful painted glass.   I think it's a masterpiece, and I'm just guessing but I bet they serve good food there too.

CLICK to visit my Daily-Duo
CLICK to visit KittyBLOG -- the daily doings of my cat.
CLICK for what I call my BIG site.

Your comments are invited and welcome.


photowannabe said...

Thanks for the Mission Street tour and the info about the paints. Never knew much about the techniques of wall painting. Love the painted glass too. Its beautiful and so complex. I'll bet the food is too.

Louise said...

You always have great stories.

And you don't know if that cafe has good food? With a window like that, I'm thinking that testing the menu is a must.

under construction