This is not exactly “out of the way”, but this is also not in every tourist’s must-visit list when in San Francisco. Not – I’d say – because it has no appeal whatsoever; but more because of where it is.
We’re talking of Clarion Alley, a small street in San Francisco notable for the murals painted by the Clarion Alley Mural Project (or CAMP).
Clarion Alley is said to encapsulate San Francisco’s Mission District, a neighborhood that may be culturally rich but is also “rife with tension”. This is because – all too apparent – the Mission District is in a stage of “advanced gentrification”. Here, the average income and rent have continuously increased. Perhaps not surprisingly, and meanwhile, the non-white population has shrunk from 71.8% in 1990 to 57.3% in 2013.
Along Mission Street itself, there are numerous homeless people who have – in a way – established “homes” there, by living in tents or sleeping on cartons or lying down on the sidewalks.
CAMP emerged to use murals and street art to support political, economic and social justice messaging. And since its establishment in 1992, over 800 murals have already been created in the Clarion Alley, a stretch of pavement that only measures 560 feet between Mission and Valencia (parallel to 17th street).
In total, over 100 artists have created pieces here, including Aaron Noble, Rigo, Brian and Jasper Tripp, Sebastiana Pastor, Horea, Spencer, Erin Feller, Diana Cristales, and so on…
The artworks here touch on the intersectionalities of issues.
For instance, in San Francisco, the aforementioned homeless population is approximately 7,499, according to Homeless Point-In-Time Count and Survey (2017). Broken down, 5,518 are single homeless adults, 1,363 are unaccompanied homeless youth, and 1,100 are those on the waiting list for shelter bed.
Interconnected issues include: 55% say they’ve been homeless for a decade or more; 41% say that have drug or alcohol addiction; 39% claim mental health issues; and 11% say they have HIV or AIDS.
FYI: 29% of the city’s homeless population identify as LGBT, according to the 2013 San Francisco Homeless Count Report.
The Clarion Alley pieces touch on these… and MORE.
A museum in New York can charge well over $40 for a visit; here at the Clarion Alley, checking out street art is free.
And in not so many words, these ought to be checked.
To see for yourself how – different we all may seem – we are all fighting the same fights.
In Clarion Alley, art has captured this.
And truly, in the end, this should unite us.
Clarion Alley is located between Mission and Valencia Streets, and 17th and 18th Streets in San Francisco, USA.