Street Art in The Mission

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An important question, written directly onto the sidewalk. What’s your answer?

I spent a few days in the Mission District of San Francisco this fall.

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Stencil art I encountered in one of the mural alleys.

According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mission_District,_San_Francisco,

The Mission District, also commonly called “The Mission”, is a neighborhood in San Francisco, California, United States, originally known as “the Mission lands”[4] 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.

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Stencil art I encountered in one of the mural alleys.

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.

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Mushroom drawn directly onto the sidewalk, on Mission Street, I think.

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 img_7250other 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.

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I think these fish were created using multiple stencils.

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.

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Turtles swim across a white wall.

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.

3 Responses »

  1. Dear Friends, I invite your street art on my blank shed wall out here in the desert. All funkie endeavors appreciated. Needless to say, no hate. Love to all, Auntie M

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