Balmy Alley – Murals in the Mission

10 06 2008

 (www.SpiritInTheCity.com)

Besides my home, I think Balmy Alley is my favorite place in San Francisco.  I always take out-of-town guests here.  It is a tasty bite of the best that San Francisco has to offer.  This little street in the Mission, off of 24th Street (between Treat Avenue and Harrison Street), is lined on both sides with colorful murals.  Each one tells a story. Some are whimsical, many are more serious, grappling with important issues affecting our global community.  Some of them are older, dating back to the 1980’s, some are brand new. All of them are beautiful. 

There are many other murals around the City, especially in the Mission. Precita Eyes is a collaborative nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching and beautifying urban environments and educating communities about the process and the history of public community mural art. They involve all kinds of people in the creation of murals that reflect their particular concerns, joys and triumphs. They have an amazing program for kids. I’m a card-carrying member. If you enjoy the colorful Mission District, I encourage you to support this organization, too!

The best way to see Balmy Alley and the other Mission murals, of course, is on foot. You can do it on your own, or Precita Eyes offers weekly Mission Trail Mural Walks on the weekends.

What’s some of your favorite public art in San Francisco?

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Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)

30 10 2008

It’s coming up… my favorite San Francisco holiday: Day of the Dead. This is one of those gems that you just can’t appreciate without being there. The first time I went seven or eight years ago, I actually thought, “I bet Mardi Gras used to feel something like this before it became a tourist event.” It’s that magical and real and beautiful.

Day of the Dead – Dia de los Muertos in Spanish – comes at a time in the year when cultures all over the world consider that the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead is thinnest. Native peoples in various parts of the Americas, including Mexico and Central America, believe/d that life is really a dream, and that when we die we awake to real life.  Hence, death was something to celebrate – a perspective that is still alive in some areas.  In some parts people go to the cemeteries and spend the day partying with their dearly beloveds.

Here in San Francisco, we dance with death in a different way. On November 2 there is a procession through the Mission district, starting at 7:00pm at 24th and Bryant, and ending at an altar exhibit at Garfield Park. You’re welcome to bring an offering for the community altar. 

Additionally, there are altar projects around the Mission District all week.  See www.dayofthedeadsf.org for all the details.

The picture above is me (second from the right) and some of my peeps who do this every year that the weather’s not too crappy. Let’s get the rain over with quickly!

What’s your favorite San Francisco holiday and why?  Comment below!

 If you like this post, you might also want to look at these: Balmy Alley, Mission Mission, Despacho