In a city that prides itself on its cultural prominence, it is no wonder why the street art located in the Mission District is front and center when it comes to alternative forms of art expressions. While many people may be more inclined to visit the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art to get their fill of culture, it would be wise to consider supplementing that visit with a visit to the Mission District, especially for art lovers in particular.
The Mission District’s street art is well known, not just because of the sheer number of murals that are present, but because of the themes that they portray as well. Back in the 1980’s murals started appearing in the Mission District to confront human rights violations and political corruption in central America. However, the themes present in the district have expanded tremendously since then, with murals focused on gentrification, as well as on government injustice (particularly towards young black Americans). In short, the street art at the Mission District are not just works of art, but social statements of the highest magnitude.
But even from a purely artistic standpoint, the street art is truly something to behold. Almost all of the street art uses vibrant colors to capture their audiences and given that most of the artwork is done in the form of murals, they are typically very large pieces of art that captivate viewers in part due to the sheer size of the artwork. Seeing a larger than life piece of artwork can definitely be breathtaking – so just imagine walking throughout an entire district where walls are seemingly all covered with such larger than life works of art. It’s almost hard to comprehend unless you actually go there and see it for yourself.
And what really brings everything together (at least in my mind) is the simple fact that this artwork is deeply intertwined with the neighborhood as a whole. Being able to successfully integrate artwork into a place that normally doesn’t facilitate it is a truly marvelous achievement that I will just never get over
There are more than 700 murals that have been done in the Mission District over the years and counting. Although it may seem a bit silly to make it a point to check out street art (or what some might erroneously call “graffiti”), the artwork on display in the Mission District is unlike any other art around the world, making it a very worthwhile destination. I was even surprised to learn that many of my close childhood friends had yet to visit this iconic destination in the heart of San Francisco, despite living there for decades. So if you are ever in San Francisco, checking out the Mission District Street Art is something that you absolutely have to find time to do, even if it is just for a quick stroll through a few of the streets. Even if you aren’t a fan of digging into the political or social themes embedded in each mural, the artistic value alone is well worth experiencing for yourself.