Mission Mural Tour | SF
BART Station:16th St. Mission (SF)
San Francisco has a long history with public art, and the city’s Mission District offers a spectacular array of street art to view, contemplate and discuss. The murals of the Mission are a mash up of early 20th-century Mexican muralists, 1930s-era Works Projects Administration art and the uprising of graffiti artists who were influenced by the emerging graphic comics genre, among other influencers.
In the ‘60s and ‘70s, the Mission mural movement was established with artists taking their visual commentary and applying it to, among other places, Balmy Alley. During the ‘90s, Clarion Alley became an alternative canvas for mural artists to explore their individualism, and there is no set theme here. Self-expression in varying styles of font and color are on display. Visiting both alleys offers an opportunity to view how this art form shifted.
Though Balmy Alley and Clarion Alley are two concentrated areas to view murals, they are by no means the only place to view murals in the Mission. Put your phone away, open your eyes, and walk the streets this diverse part of the city and you’ll be amazed at the number of murals adorning buildings. For further information on San Francisco’s street art scene and the artists that contribute, visit Street Art SF and the website links below.
To access this art-filled one-block alley, exit the 24th Street BART station and walk east on 24th Street for 8 short blocks. Turn right and explore the art that fills the back side of residences that run up and down Treat Avenue and Harrison Street. Even on weekdays, you are bound to find others admiring the art and taking photos. Consider this alley like an outdoor gallery and take time to appreciate the art and themes that include the preservation and exploitation of Central American culture and the gentrification of the area today. For an in depth look at the alley, contact Precita Eyes Muralist Association and Center, a nonprofit mural arts organization that provides tours, educational resources and other outreach services educating the greater community on the cultural importance of San Francisco’s mural art.
This larger, accessible alley is only a block from the 16th Street BART Station, just past 17th Street between Mission Street and Valencia Street. To access, head west down 16th Street and turn left on Valencia. Walk one block past 17th street to enter the alley. Unlike Balmy Alley’s deep artistic roots, Clarion Alley’s vision is ever-changing as murals and art are updated with the times. The shift in art speaks to the area’s (and city’s) changing demographics and frustration with issues such as human rights, equality, justice and homelessness. The Clarion Alley Mural Project are stewards to the alley and the artists that contribute to its vibrancy and message.