Best Conceptual Public Commentary

Balmy Alley

The art of the mural flourishes throughout the Mission District, but nowhere more so than in this narrow, undeniably temperate passageway. Back in the early '70s, with (CIA-sponsored) violence and tyranny in Central America in full bloom, artists and activists and other community-minded folk descended on Balmy Alley, paintbrushes in hand, to promote peace, solidarity, and other worthy causes in the grand Diego Rivera tradition. Today this evolving work-in-progress celebrates childbirth, community life, Cesar Chavez, and the films of Cantinflas in addition to the triumph over oppression both north and south of the border. Dazzling bursts of purple, green, gold, and indigo adorn the fences, walls, and garage doors on either side of the street, expressing ideas in figurative, narrative, and abstract styles: It's the mural in microcosm. Maps to other local examples of this public art form are available at the Precita Eyes Mural Arts Center, just up the street at 2981 24th St.; pick up a snack from one of the neighboring mexicatessens or panaderias and make a day of it.


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