When I was in San Francisco, I spent a lot of time walking around in the Mission District. The Mission is a vibrant, bustling neighborhood with great opportunities for watching people . I enjoyed getting a glimpse of folks living their lives in a metropolis. Being in the Mission made me remember how it feels to love a city.
In addition to people watching, I looked at the murals that are all over the Mission. My Computer Guy says the Mission has been known for its mural since the 1970s, and and the SF Tourism Tips website (http://www.sftourismtips.com/mission-district-murals.html) backs him up. In previous trips to the Mission, I did see murals, but during my recent visit, I saw so many murals I had never seen before. Maybe I hadn’t been looking in the right places during previous visits. Maybe there really are more murals now. In any case, I spent much of my visit walking around the neighborhood, finding and admiring and photographing outdoor murals.
I spent an entire afternoon walking around 24th Street, ducking into alleys to take photos of the amazing murals located throughout this neighborhood. From across 24th Street, I saw La Reyna Panaderia and decided I would pay it a visit after lunch.
“Panaderia” is the Spanish word for bakery, and there was a wide selection of sweet treats available at La Reyna. I don’t know much about the pastries of the Latino world, but everything on display looked really delicious. I wanted to try everything!
I tried to joke about wanting to try everything to the woman working behind the counter, but she wasn’t having it. I don’t know if she was having a bad day or if she was just tired or if her English comprehension was limited and she didn’t understand my banter, but she didn’t seem amused by me in the least.
So this is how it works: Customers get a tray and a set of long tongs from the counter and serve themselves from the cases filled with a variety of pastries. Only a few of the pastries were labeled, so I didn’t really know what most of the varieties were. In theory, I guess I could have asked the woman working, but she did not act as if she wanted to be bothered by me. So I picked a big, soft-looking cookie that was obviously chocolate and another that was sprinkled heavily with toasted coconut and had a red circle that looked like jelly in the middle. There was no indication of the price of anything, but my two cookies ended up costing $1.30.
While La Reyna’s sign does say “coffee shop,” I didn’t see or smell any coffee brewing. Maybe the lady behind the counter whips something up after an order is placed. I wasn’t interested in coffee, so I didn’t really look for it.
La Reyna also seemed not much like a coffee shop because there are no tables or chairs, either inside or out. It’s not a hangout kind of place. One goes in, buys one’s pastries and leaves. This is a great place for folks who like Mexican pastries, but it’s strictly a “to-go” situation.
Like many other buildings in the area, the one that houses La Reyna has murals painted on the side of it, including one of the Virgin Mary. La Reyna (also spelled “La Reina”) is the Spanish term for “The Queen.” The Queen in question might be the Virgin Mary (you know, as in “the Queen of Heaven”) which could explain why she’s painted on the side of the outside wall. However, The Queen might refer to someone else, and the Virgin Mary’s on the side of the building because she’s a popular art motif in the Latinx world.
La Reyna Panaderia is located at 3114 24th Street in San Francisco, CA.
I took all of the photos in this post.
One of my favorite places in San Francisco’s Mission District is The Women’s Building (known in Spanish as Edificio de Mujeres). I love its bright colors. I love the mural painted upon it showing strong and talented women from a variety of cultures. I love that it’s a community center owned by women.
I don’t remember if I visited The Women’s Building on my first trip to San Francisco or if I discovered it later. I do know I was glad to see it down 18th Street on the recent autumn morning I explored Valencia Street. (The Women’s Building is located at 3543 18th Street.) After eating a delicious vegetarian burrito at Taqueria El Buen Sabor (699 Valencia Street), I strolled over to The Women’s Building.
According to http://womensbuilding.org/about/mission-history/,
In 1971, a group of visionary women founded San Francisco’s Women’s Centers to incubate emerging Bay Area women’s projects. Having outgrown their tiny office on Brady Street, the group bought Dovre Hall in 1979, a former Sons of Norway meeting hall and neighborhood bar. The women transformed the four-story building into the first woman-owned and operated community center in the country: The Women’s Building.
Fifteen years later in 1984, seven muralists created one of the largest murals in San Francisco: MaestraPeace Mural. This magnificent piece of public art, which covers two sides of our building and reaches five stories high, depicts the power and contributions of women throughout history and the world.
The Women’s Building is a women-led community space that advocates self-determination, gender equality and social justice.
Each year we welcome over 25,000 women and their families, connecting them with social services, community involvement opportunities, the arts, wellness and educational events.
According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Women%27s_Building,
In 1997, the Women’s Building underwent a major renovation prompted by mandatory seismic retrofitting. In the course of that effort, it evicted the Dovre Club, a bar that had been in the corner of the building on 18th and Lapidge Streets since 1979. The original owner of that bar had an oral agreement with the Women’s Center that the bar could stay in place during his lifetime; after his death in 1997, the bar made an effort to stay in place but ultimately relocated.
I think if I lived in San Francisco, I would utilize the services offered in The Women’s Building. However, since I’m only a visitor, what I like best about the building is the mural.
The Women’s Building website (http://womensbuilding.org/the-mural/) says,
One of San Francisco’s largest and best known murals, MaestraPeace and serves as a visual testament to the courageous contributions of women through time and around the world.
The mural was fully cleaned and restored in 2012 by the original muralists with the assistance of a new generation of muralistas.
Wikipedia, on the aforementioned website, adds,
the mural… covers both the outside of The Women’s Building as well as the interior entrance hall and stairway. It features images of feminine icons from history and fiction, and the names of more than 600 women written in calligraphy.
I spent most of my visit to The Women’s Building trying to get decent photos of the fabulous mural. It wasn’t easy for me to capture such large expanses of wall with my little digital camera. To get a much better idea of how stunning the mural is, check out The Women’s Building website, or, even better, take a trip to San Francisco and see it in person.
I took all of the photos in this post.
I spent a few days in the Mission District of San Francisco this fall.
The Mission District, also commonly called “The Mission”, is a neighborhood in San Francisco, California, United States, originally known as “the Mission lands” meaning the lands belonging to the sixth Alta California mission, Mission San Francisco de Asis. This mission, San Francisco’s oldest standing building, is located in the northwest area of the neighborhood.
I did a lot of walking between 16th and 24th streets and Guerroero Street and South Van Ness Avenue. Mostly I was looking at murals, but I was also enjoying the hustle and bustle of big city life. It had been a long time since I’d been around so many people and been able to do such intense people watching.
There are murals all over the place in The Mission. I took a lot of photos of a lot of murals, planning to do a lot of blog posts featuring the often political art. Alas, while I was researching the murals, I found a disclaimer on the Balmy Alley murals page (http://www.balmyalley.com/Murals.html):
Please remember that murals are copyrighted works of art. Photographs are for your personal enjoyment only. Any photos OR video taken of copyrighted murals for the purpose of reproduction (including t-shirts, album covers, web sites, guide books, music videos, commercials, etc) can only be used with written permission from the muralist(s).
I’ve contacted the community-based mural arts organization, Precita Eyes Muralists Association, to get permission to use my photos of murals in my blog posts. Before they will grant me any permission, I have to complete a multi-page form. Completing the form is on my list of things to do, but I haven’t been able to get to it yet. There will be no photos of the murals of Mission District alleys for my readers for a while.
In the meantime, I will share some of the examples of street art I encountered while I was exploring the neighborhood.
The artrepublic website (http://www.artrepublic.com/art_terms/39-street-art-html/) defines street art as
Street art is any art developed in public spaces. The term can include traditional graffiti art work, as well as, stencil graffiti, sticker art, wheatpasting and street poster art, video projection, art intervention, guerrilla art, flash mobbing and street installations.
Whereas traditional graffiti artists have primarily used free-hand aerosol paints to produce their works with ‘tagging’ and text-based subject, street art encompasses many other media, techniques and subject matter including: LED art, mosaic tiling, murals, stencil art, sticker art, street installations, wheatpasting, woodblocking, video projection, and yarn bombing.
(For a cool list of Top 10 Types of Street Arts, go here: http://listdose.co/top-10-types-of-street-arts/.)
Some people wonder if there is any difference between street art and graffiti. The Herron School of Art and Design (http://www.herron.iupui.edu/blog/06042012/street-art-vs-graffiti) says,
Graffiti limits an individual to what he or she can do with a spray can, on the spot. Street art, on the other hand, while employing some of the application techniques of graffiti, often involves a finished product that is ready-made and brought to the location -think stickers, wheat paste prints, and stencils.
Street art and graffiti are both powerful forms of public art that use visually striking, bold images and metaphors to convey a message. And in both cases, artists are risking legal punishment for spreading these messages.
Most of the art pieces I saw were created from stencils and spray paint. According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stencil_graffiti,
Stencil graffiti is a form of graffiti that makes use of stencils made out of paper, cardboard, or other media to create an image or text that is easily reproducible. The desired design is cut out of the selected medium and then the image is transferred to a surface through the use of spray paint or roll-on paint.
The process of stenciling involves applying paint across a stencil to form an image on a surface below. Sometimes multiple layers of stencils are used on the same image to add colours or create the illusion of depth.
My favorite part of street art is the DIY (Do-It-Yourself) ethic. Street artists don’t need a museum or a gallery or an agent or a patron. Street artists just need their art supplies and an empty patch of sidewalk or wall.
I also appreciate encountering street art for free, while I’m out and about. I don’t have to pay admission to a museum; the whole neighborhood is a museum for a street art aficionado.
Folks who want to learn how to cut a stencil or to connect with stencil, street, and graffiti artists should check out the Stencil Revolution website (http://www.stencilrevolution.com/). To see examples of street art from around the world, go to the Street Art Utopia website (http://www.streetartutopia.com/).
I took all the photos in this post.