Between Valencia and Mission, 17th and 18th streets
Whether we're talking about Ray Patlán's Balmy Alley Project or Andrew Schoultz and Aaron Noble's Lexington Street mural, the Mission District is home to one of the most vibrant public art scenes on the West Coast. But the narrow lane called Clarion Alley is something special. A former heroin shooting gallery before its transformation at the hands of a group of community activists and artists in 1992, Clarion stretches for three short blocks from Valencia to Mission and displays some of the more artistically viable and socially relevant art in all of San Francisco. It not only provides an open space for some of the city's most promising up-and-comers, but it also doubles as a forum for the various ethnic, cultural, and gang factions that inhabit the Mission. Freed of the confines of a gallery, the pieces visible here are a testament to the social importance of art.