About twice a month, I manage to make it to one of my favorite write-ins, the Friday afternoon Shut Up and Write, at one of my favorite places, Borderlands Books/Cafe, in the Mission District of San Francisco. Borderlands is located halfway between the 16th and 24th Street BART stations. I always choose to get off at 16th Street for one particular reason, so I can stroll through Clarion Alley.
Since 1992, the entire stretch of Clarion Alley has been a canvas for over 700 murals. No work of art is permanent, so the murals are in continuous rotation. If like me, you pass through about twice a month, you’ll almost always see something new. Even if the murals haven’t changed, you can linger over the familiar ones and discover something you hadn’t noticed before.
During a recent walk, I was fortunate enough to catch artist Kenshin Tomoshima working on his latest mural.
Clarion Alley murals often reflect current events and popular culture, such as this one, Rest in Purple by Mel C. Waters, in memory of Prince.
Today, while on my way to Borderlands, I was particularly struck by two murals showing two sides of San Francisco.
Everything Must Go! By Daniel Doherty shows the tragic face of gentrification. Small businesses are being gauged out of San Francisco by exorbitant increases in rent. It’s a sad fact that the city today is not the city of my misspent youth. Much of what had made San Francisco so unique is being bought and sold by the tech elite.
We All Deserve a Healthy and Safe Community by the various artists of Hospitality House shows a more hopeful vision of the city. People of the various communities and cultures come together to celebrate diversity and to rally for an inclusive San Francisco for all its residents, regardless of income. This is the city that still exists and gives me hope for the future.
Clarion Alley is always open and is a popular tourist destination on the weekends. You can find out more on the Clarion Alley Mural Project website.