Mission District mural collective Precita Eyes Muralists has been painting stunning, socially conscious murals since 1977, and their walking tours have been a hit in the neighborhood for decades. The arts nonprofit celebrates its 40th anniversary this weekend with a Saturday, Sept. 30 gala at GitHub headquarters, an occasion to look back on four decades of fantastic community art.
But Precita Eyes did not originally set out to be a collective that would span decades and cover San Francisco with murals. They originally meant to just do one mural — the one at Leonard R. Flynn Elementary School that’s still there today, though back in 1977 the school was called Le Conte Elementary.
“The people who participated in that wanted to continue to paint murals,” Precita Eyes co-founder Susan Cervantes tells SF Weekly. (Cervantes was also one of the artists who painted the iconic Women’s Building mural.) “So I started a workshop down at the Precita Valley Community Center.”
With the help of her late husband Luis Cervantes, that workshop turned into a nonprofit arts education group responsible some of the most recognizable murals in San Francisco — including the Carnaval mural on Harrison Street, the Cleveland Elementary School mural, and the McDonald’s mural at 24th and Mission Streets.
Saturday’s anniversary event will feature silent auction offerings from some of Precita Eyes’ best known collaborators like Sirron Norris and Chor Boogie, leaving us wondering who Cervantes considerswthe standouts of the last 40 years.
“The last 40 years?,” she says, surprised by the question. “We’re going to continue what we’re doing, which is bringing art to the lives of the people of the San Francisco Bay Area. We’re going to prepare for the next 40 years.”
The Precita Eyes 40th Anniversary Gala is Saturday, Sept. 30 at GitHub headquarters (88 Colin P, Kelly Jr. Street) from 7 p.m.-10 p.m., and featuring silent auctions plus the Bruno Pelletier-Bacquaert Jazz Quartet, Bare Bones Butoh, Banda Sin Nombre, DJ Petrelli, and catering by La Cocina. Tickets are available online.