The Virgin of Guadalupe mural on Lilac Street. (Courtesy of Stephanie)

The Virgin of Guadalupe mural on Lilac Street between 24th and 25th streets will come down sometime in the next few months, according to the building’s owner.

The reason? Rot on the siding, a quotidian end for a mural that has inspired street celebrations and was commissioned six years ago as a birthday present for the building owner’s father, who loves the Virgin.

The mural will go up again once the structure is replaced, and will be repainted by the original artist, Twick, a graffiti and street artist. Mission Art 415 will facilitate the mural production.

Mural removal can occasionally get property owners into dicey legal and ethical territory, but in this case, both Stephanie, the owner of the building, who asked that her last name be withheld, and Twick have worked together throughout the process of planning for the mural to come down and be repainted. 

“It’s a piece of art that I would have, ideally, never touched,” Stephanie said. But the rot, which could affect the rest of the building’s structural integrity if left alone, necessitates that the art comes down. The artwork currently is painted on a two-story building, with a garage on the bottom and apartment on top.

The colorful mural features the Virgin of Guadalupe in pink and blue, flanked by flowers and a cityscape. It has become a neighborhood landmark in the years since it was painted. 

On Dec. 12, the day celebrating the Virgin, Stephanie has seen people dancing on the street outside the mural. It has also been the site of wedding parties, commercials and magazines, according to Mission Art co-founder Lisa Brewer.

Stephanie commissioned the mural in 2015 as a birthday gift for her father, Mark.

“My dad is obsessed with the Virgin of Guadalupe,” Stephanie said with a laugh. “He’s this old white guy with statues of her all over his house.”

Her father, Mark, agreed. He has appreciated the Virgin of Guadalupe since he was a kid, and  was first introduced to the iconography of the Virgin at mass with his grandmother in Carmel. To this day, he still enjoys the image, which reminds him of the positive memories from his Catholic childhood.

The first piece of religious iconography he collected as an adult was a painting of the Virgin in an elaborate frame. He purchased it from a grocery store next to a taqueria he frequents, and the painting still hangs in his shop.

The painting kicked off the rest of his collection — knowing his fascination with the figure, his children have gifted him various items, including neckerchiefs and socks. He’s also come to own a few “really cool” statues of various sizes.

Mark and some of his Virgin of Guadalupe collection. Photo courtesy of Mark.

When Stephanie approached him to ask what she should paint on the new property she had bought, Mark suggested that she should put up the Virgin of Guadalupe. He had suggested it “half-jokingly” — “I was serious, but I didn’t think she would do it,” he said.

He’s looking forward to seeing Twick put up the mural again, and is planning to drive into the city to watch the process once it starts.

“The artist did an unbelievable job,” he said. “I would hate to think of it as really gone.”

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Kate Selig

Kate Selig is an intern at Mission Local.

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4 Comments

  1. When professional painters paint a wall, much of the work is actually to do with preparing the surface, removing and replacing any rotten wood, sanding, sealing and priming the surface, and so on, before applying coats of new paint.

    Is it fair to say that the average mural artist does none of that preparation? But rather just slaps on the paint over whatever is existing?

    1. Well, considering how very many murals there are in this city and this is the first time I’ve heard of one being taken down for this reason, no, it’s probably not fair to say that mural artists don’t prepare.

      1. That is speculation rather than confirmation. It could be that owners do preparation before allowing a mural to be painted. But if they don’t then does the muralist care?

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