Iván López grew up walking past the blank wall on 21st Street near South Van Ness.
He was usually en route to his parent’s soccer store, Elite Sports, on Mission Street near 22nd. He now runs Artillery AG, an art gallery and ceramics store a few doors away.
When Limón Rotisserie wanted to offer customers something beautiful to look at, they chose López, who has lived in the Mission since he was three.
In this project, López says he “wanted to pay tribute to the food and vegetables that people consume, and to both the indigenous cultures of Latin America as well as contemporary cultures.”
The mural’s centerpiece features two chickens, in honor of the restaurant, and other essential ingredients like corn, garlic, potatoes and limes. “At first, they wanted a rotisserie chicken,” López says. But he wanted to “give these living creatures a higher respect … as a source of opportunity for people to gather around the table.”
Mountains fill the left side …
… and the ocean the right side. “These are the ecosystems that allow systems to provide nourishment for the community — as Limón does,” says López. “The left side is about the ancestry of the ingredients, which are a part of our [Latin American] heritage.”
López painted gender-neutral images of indigenous people in blues, oranges and purples, as he wanted to “invoke their inner color rather than their external representation, and acknowledge how we have evolved from their wisdom.” A jaguar, llama and condor were incorporated into the mural to symbolize the importance of the Andes for inspiring the Peruvian fusion food served at Limón Rotisserie.
The Mission’s tribute is a pink low-rider and a bridge, which “represents the era of urbanization and the industrialized culture that can manufacture a bridge and a car.”
The monarch butterflies flying across the mural “represent people moving North to South, and is also in honor of the people who work behind the scenes at the restaurant.”
“It is great in this time to be able to bring art into the neighborhood — it’s joyful!” says Lopez, who spends the majority of his time working at the gallery he co-founded in 2009.
Most importantly, head chef Melissa Palomino is happy with the mural.
Artist Iván López celebrates the completion of the mural with partner Kelly Ortega and son Ámate López-Ortega.