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Street Art in Mission District, San Francisco

Mission District: Street Art in San Francisco

Before we arrived in San Francisco, we were contacted by a couple with the same surname as Ashray: Baruah.

Rukmini and her husband Pritam had come across Backpack ME while researching for one of their trips to Latin America. They noticed that Ashray has the same surname as them, which could only mean one thing: they come from the same state in India, Assam. The world is a small place and, although India has more than 1.3 billion people, it doesn’t feel that big at times either!

Knowing that we were coming to the place they’re living in, Rukmini and Pritam got in touch with us, offering to show us around. And am I glad they did! Not only it was interesting to share stories with fellow Assamese abroad, it was also cool to hang out with fellow foodies and get to discover some of San Francisco’s most colorful and meaningful graffiti.

At the entrance of Balmy Street

At the entrance of Balmy Street

Creation

Creation

A regular day in Mission District

A regular day in Mission District

San Francisco as if out of a cartoon

San Francisco as if out of a cartoon

"A tribute to female graffiti artists and future generations"

"A tribute to female graffiti artists and future generations"

 

Rukmini and Pritam had discovered Balmy Street while taking a foodie tour in San Francisco. This alley exists since the 70s in Mission District, the area of San Francisco with a more Latin feel to it. Walking around Mission District, was like reminiscing on our travels around Latin America, which is something that always makes me feel nostalgic (but in a good way!).

Just like we had learnt in Chile, covering the walls of your house in graffiti is the only way of avoiding other graffiti artists (or wannabes) from trashing your place. It’s the Graffiti unspoken code: you shall not spray on top of someone else’s creation.

We came across true works of art, not only aesthetically, but also meaning-wise. Street artists have taken inspiration in religion, how the city has changed, daily life and family, struggle and indigenous themes always related with the exploitation and ownership of the land.

Clearly Mexican - is that lady Frida Kahlo?

Clearly Mexican – is that lady Frida Kahlo?

Land and freedom issues

Land and freedom issues

Entrance to a home in Balmy Street

Entrance to a home in Balmy Street

What's Uncle Sam up to?

What's Uncle Sam up to this time?

Virgencita

Virgencita

Although most Latins are Christian, there's space for other religions around Balmy Street

Although most Latins are Christian, there's also space for other religions around Balmy Street

 

Walking a few blocks, the Latin infused streets meet the hipster side of Mission District – the distinction happens in just a matter of a few steps, perhaps a block, but it’s like crossing from one dimension into another. Behind we leave the world of grocery stores, taquerias, cheap utility shops and vegetable stalls, to enter the land of over-priced coffee shops, alternative boutiques and, of course, way more white people walking around.

It was in this side of Mission District that we had to chance to marvel at some more graffiti, this time at Clarion Alley.

Clarion Alley

Clarion Alley

Graffiti by The Clarion Alley Mural Project

Graffiti by The Clarion Alley Mural Project

Anti-capitalist mural

Anti-capitalist mural

Calavera behind bars

Calavera behind bars

About political prisoners in the USA

About political prisoners in the USA

Of skulls and eagles

Of skulls and eagles

Indian inspired mural

Indian inspired mural

Futuristic looking - amazingly sharp colors!

Futuristic looking – amazingly sharp colors!

Pritam, Rukmini and Ashray walking down Clarion Alley

Pritam, Rukmini and Ashray walking down Clarion Alley

Wherever there's graffiti, there has to be a weed related message

Wherever there's graffiti, there has to be a weed related message

A bus to Mission District

A bus to Mission District

How to make your building unique 101

How to make your building unique 101

 

If you’re ever in San Francisco and want to treat your eyes to a proper feast, don’t leave Mission District out. Add to that a gastronomic feast at one of the omnipresent Latin eateries and you’ve got yourself a cool day to remember.

 

With Rukmini in Clarion Alley

With Rukmini in Clarion Alley

Thanks Rukmini and Pritam for showing us around!

 

GET THERE!
Balmy Street Murals: 1-100 Balmy St, The Mission District, San Francisco
Clarion Alley: 
between Mission and Valencia Streets and 17th and 18th Streets, The Mission District, San Francisco


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7 Comments

  • Rukmini Says

    Hi Zara and Ashray,

    The Mission District looks fantastic through your lens :) I am glad Pritam and I were able to show you one of our most favorite neighborhoods in the city. Hopefully we will get to share the promised cups of steaming chai sometime in the near future :D Happy Travels to Europe !!!!

    ~ Rukmini

    • Zara Says

      Hi Rukmini,

      Thanks once again for showing us around – it was lots of fun!
      And yeah… we’ll be looking forward to sharing that cup of chai with you guys somewhere around the world! ;)

      Cheers!

  • wow, that’s some amazing street art… i specially like the more Mexican inspired murals. so full of life.

    • Zara Says

      Yeah! I like the ones with Latin feel too! :)
      Not only they’re pretty, they’re also full of meaning!

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  • Jenna Says

    I live not far from San Francisco and was just there last week but I haven’t seen these streets. Definitely putting this on my list for next time. Thanks!

    • Zara Says

      Hi Jenna,
      Yeah, go visit Balmy Street and Clarion Alley next time around. In fact, The Mission District in general is a very nice area to spend some time at and, of course, eat – tons of great Latin food!

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