“Working Class For An Affordable Mission” directed and designed Lucia Gonzalez Ippolito, and painted by Pancho Pescador and Pablo Ruiz Arroyo.⁣ It was sponsored by Mission Housing Development Corporation to commemorate it's 50 year anniversary and honor the Mission Coalition Organization.

Lucia Gonzalez Ippolito, an artist born and raised in the Mission, has unveiled her latest mural, “Working Class for An Affordable Mission.”

“Working Class for An Affordable Mission”  is on Cypress Street between 25th and 26th streets.

It was commissioned by Mission Housing to celebrate its 50th anniversary, and to honor the legacy of the Mission Coalition Organization, a consortium active in the 1970s that focused on fighting for affordable housing for low-income residents.

Lead artist Lucia Ippolito said she wanted to honor the organization and working-class people through the comic-style mural. 

By the time she worked out solutions to a few logistical challenges — many of them stemming from the difficulty of painting a mural atop a 60-foot wall — 33-year-old Ippollito was already seven months into her pregnancy. 

“The plan was that I was going to go out there and paint it by myself,” she said. 

Lucia Gonzalez Ippolito sits on top of the lift that the painters used to paint her new mural “Working Class for an Affordable Mission.” Photo by Clara-Sophia Daly.

But “I can’t breathe spray paint right now,” and it’s dangerous for her to be dangling 60 feet above the ground. So, Pablito Ruiz Arroyo (also known as Pablitosomething) and Pancho Pescador, two well-known muralists in the community, stepped in to work from Ippolito’s design.

“We got each other’s backs as artists, because we are a tight-knit community and we’re all we’ve got,” said Ruiz Arroyo. 

Pescador added, “It’s impossible not to love” Ippolito, and help out. 

The colorful mural is full of references to the Mission and its working class: union laborers, low-riders, iconic buildings and nods to historic neighborhood murals. 

It was painted from an electric lift 60 feet above the ground on the back wall of Mission Housing’s 30-unit affordable housing building at 1045 Capp St. The building for low-income seniors is currently under renovation. 

Mission Housing has owned the building since 1990, when The Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Company gifted it to the organization.

Ippolito grew up in the Mission and was encouraged to create political art by her parents; her father was an artist from Yucatán, and her mother a political activist. The Mexican American artist, teacher, and activist has worked on numerous murals throughout the Mission, and is co-founder of the San Francisco Poster Syndicate, a group of students and artists who print free political posters at protests and community events.

Ippolito was a lead collaborator on Alto al Fuego en la Mision, a mural honoring the life of Amilcar Perez Lopez, above the Calle24 offices on 24th and Capp streets.

On the lower right segment of the new mural, Ippolito depicted the new 100 percent affordable housing complex located at 1950 Mission St. surrounded by native California wildflowers. There is a construction crane in honor of Maria Crane, former chair of Mission Coalition Organization. And a banner that says “Affordable Housing Now!!!”

The mural with the “Keep Hoods Yours” tag circled. Photo courtesy of painter Pablito Ruiz Arroyo.

A house with a “For Sale” sign is located next to house with a “Keep Hoods Yours” graffiti tag, an anti-gentrification statement that Ippolito says means “keeping the neighborhood local and native,” a statement that resonates with Mission natives like herself.

Other figures hold up fists under a purple sky. Shoes hanging from telephone wires reference the building’s roots as once owned by the Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Company. 

“The Mission Exchange” of The Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Company, circa 1927. Photo: public domain.  The building became known as “The Mission Exchange,” when 2,300 Mission District phone customers were connected to the rest of the city. As many as 4,000 people would be served within a few weeks. It is now Abel Gonzalez Apartments, a 30-unit complex for low-income seniors.

The mural also features a drawing of construction workers with a banner that says “Laborer’s Local 261 San Francisco CA” in honor of the union that now has offices at the corner of Shotwell and 18th streets. On the orange vest of one of the laborers, it reads “Mission Housing 1971-2021,” honoring Mission Housing’s 50-year anniversary. 

A portion of the mural incorporates a section from muralist Michael Rios‘ mural from 1972, referencing police brutality. Rios’s mural, which people call the “Mission Coalition Organization Mural,” was located at 23rd and Folsom streets, but it’s no longer there.

“I like murals within murals … paying homage to other muralists,” said Ippolito, who called Rios a legend and “one of her favorite artists.” 

Michael Rios’s mural from 1972, courtesy of Chris Carlsson and foundsf.org. Ippolito was inspired by his art and included a portion of his mural in her own. The original mural was known as the “Mission Coalition Organization Mural” and was located at 23rd and Folsom. Can you figure out which part is in Ippolito’s new mural?

Ippolito is also working on the “Road Map to Peace” Youth Center mural for at the Mission Language and Vocational School, where the Latino Task Force has been hosting its food and resource hub during the pandemic. 

Ippolito says, “We’re honoring those who work in the community, and we’re working together as a community from the design I created to make this happen.” 

“I really enjoy the parts that are about affordable housing that are kind of more subliminal … I just feel like it’s very close to home … just the Mission and what the Mission represents and our ‘cultura,’ you know?” 

Clara-Sophia Daly

Clara-Sophia Daly is a multimedia storyteller and reporter who has worked both in print and audio. A graduate of Skidmore College where she studied International Affairs and Media/Film studies, she enjoys...

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2 Comments

  1. The artists talks about “keeping the neighborhood local and native.”

    I hope we’re not going to bring back restrictive racial covenants.

  2. Wonderful and powerful new mural with a sense of humor and natural beauty! Congrats on another potent message about neighborhood pride and working-class power.

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