Sundays with Precita Eyes: An Outdoor Gallery

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“The best way to view the murals of the Mission is through the cracked windshield of the Mexican bus that regularly tours the neighborhood, inspired by the festively decorated buses in Mexico often named for girlfriends or romantic landscapes.”

-Annice Jacoby

Precita Eyes Mural Arts and Visitors Center offers guided mural tours throughout the Mission. Photo by Erica Hellerstein.

Photo by Erica Hellerstein.

Every Sunday morning, the Precita Eyes Mural Arts Center opens its yellow iron doors and gives a guided walking tour of the neighborhood’s best and brightest works of art. Starting in the chromatic, color-splashed Balmy Alley and winding all the way to leafy Precita Park, the tour offers a glimpse into the evolving world of  Mission Muralismo.

This weekend, we decided to tag along and learn a little bit about the history behind the Mission’s most iconic murals. It was a perfect day — sunny and breezy, with thin white clouds feathered across the sky. Below, we’ve featured some of our favorite murals, and a bit of background about each piece underneath the photo.

To learn more, stop by the Precita Eyes Mural Arts Center at 2981 24th Street next Sunday for your own guided tour.

BALMY ALLEY

This alley of mostly small, post-Victorian houses, old wooden garages, and fences is covered with murals, and every mural is a challenge: a gauntlet against forgetting, an attempt to recover the memory and history – as painful as it has been these pasty 50 years – of our own continent. Monsignor Romero, the assassinated Archbishop of El Salvador, stares wide-eyed from a garage door a few yards from a mural honoring the memory of the disappeared in Latin America.”

- Alejandro Murguía

1) Five Sacred Colors of Corn: Painted by Precita Eyes founder Susan Cervantes, this mural features wooden sculptural elements and is based off of traditional Indian yarn paintings.

Mural by Susan Cervantes, Five Sacred Colors of Corn. Photo by Erica Hellerstein.

Mural by Susan Cervantes, Five Sacred Colors of Corn. Photo by Erica Hellerstein.

 

2) This mural paints a picture of a small village in rural Nepal. The artist, who stayed in a Nepali community huddled in the Himalayas, painted workers bound by chains inscribed with “International Monetary Fund” (IMF) and “World Bank.” Between the chains, flowers bloom, underscoring the message that this small community is standing up for itself and its natural resources in spite of exploitation by international corporations.

Mural of Nepali village. Photo by Erica Hellerstein.

Mural of Nepali village. Photo by Erica Hellerstein.

 

3) Based off the popular book “Enrique’s Journey,” this murals tells the story of Enrique, a young boy who rode on top of a rickety train from Honduras to the United States in search of his mother. In this piece, the artist documented Enrique’s successful but precarious journey and the many people he met along the way.

Mural based off of the book Enrique's Journey. Photo by Erica Hellerstein.

Mural based off of the book Enrique’s Journey. Photo by Erica Hellerstein.

 

4) This mural commemorates Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was assassinated in El Salvador while speaking up for human rights during mass. The small charm-like elements scattered throughout the piece are called “milagros,” and are religious folk charms that are traditionally used for healing purposes. The Balmy Alley milagro, for example, is two paint cans and two paint brushes.

This mural commemorates Archbishop Romero. Photo by Erica Hellerstein.

This mural commemorates Archbishop Romero. Photo by Erica Hellerstein.

 

5) In this piece, entitled “the past that still lives,” the artist features scenes of war and peace in El Salvador’s past and present. His murals are easily identifiable for their bright, saturated colors and hidden details (bodies in the water, people hidden in leaves, etc).

Scenes from war in past and present El Salvador. Photo by Erica Hellerstein.

Scenes from war in past and present El Salvador. Photo by Erica Hellerstein.

FEELING INSPIRED?  Balmy Alley has an open space for brave new muralists…

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LEARN MORE

Take a look at our interactive map of Mission Murals. If there are any murals you’d like to add to the list, please send a picture with the subject line MURALS to missionlocal@gmail.com.

L.A. Turns Up the Heat on Mural Competition: According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles recently lifted a ten-year ban on public murals. Something else to add to the NorCal – SoCal rivalry list?

 

 

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