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Clarion Alley Murals

Clarion Alley Murals
Clarion Alley Murals

© Charles Wagner

Do you like your art raw and non-commercialized? As critique and struggle and bold dialogue? Alternatively beautiful and shocking? If so, then after you pay that handsome price for refined modern art on the walls of SF MOMA, come down to Clarion Alley in the Mission for a gritty dose of unrefined urban street art.

Clarion Alley hosts an ever-changing mosaic of Mission District art, a colorful conversation running down the length of the walls between Valencia and Mission St. Murals range from visual critiques of U.S. imperialism to detailed and vivid nature-oriented landscapes. One striking mural depicts a woman drawn in stark black and white contrast against a blood red background with birds, faces, and skulls weaved into her hair. Others are so extraordinary that words utterly fall short to describe it.

Clarion Alley art goes back to the alternative culture of 1960s and has since been a public space for artistic experimentation. In 1992, the Clarion Alley Mural Project (CAMP) was formed by a group of Mission-resident volunteers. Inspired by Balmy Alley but dedicated to its own artistic vision, CAMP was guided by two general goals of social inclusiveness and aesthetic variety. CAMP has produced more than 100 murals by Latino, Native American, Asian, White, African-American, Indian, Queer, and disabled artists.

An annual Clarion Alley Block Party is hosted by CAMP that has consistently brought over 1,000 people to the celebration, which features new murals, music, film, and food. Look for this year's (11th Annual) celebration to take place in late October.

For my money (it's free), the murals (do we dare say street art masterpieces?) beat MOMA anytime.

Attraction Information

  • Metro Stop:
  • BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit): exit at 16th St., walk down Mission St. just over 1 block and Clarion Alley will be the first right after 17th St.
  • Hours:
  • Anytime between dawn and dusk
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