Weekly Photo Challenge: Change – The Murals of Clarion Alley

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Good Evening:

I might have found the most beautiful mural in San Francisco; scroll all the way to the bottom and see if you agree.

But first, another example of change in San Francisco. I present another example of how the mural art in this city constantly gets painted over and replaced. I took this picture of a mural at the entrance of Clarion Alley on Valencia Street on August 21, 2004.

Blue & Green, Clarion Alley, 21 August 2004

Blue & Green, Clarion Alley, 21 August 2004

It doesn’t look quite like that anymore. It looks more like this:

Just a Little Different From Before.

Just a Little Different From Before.

Clarion, a one-block alley from Mission to Valencia that runs parallel to 17th Street, used to feature the clandestine work of graffiti taggers and only an occasional attempt at art. Somewhere over the years, it evolved into what I can best describe as a partially curated outdoor art gallery with an ever-changing collection. Indeed, two groups of muralists worked on new pieces when I visited on Friday. You can’t miss the entrance to Clarion on Valencia. Not when it looks like this:

DSCN4803

This artist’s murals appear everywhere in San Francisco, even in a cheesesteak place on Divisadero, and the theme is consistent: cute, cuddly toy animals in colors that might have come from a child’s bedroom, and yet he will always include something rather disturbing in the work. By partially curated, I mean that there appears to be an overall theme to the art, and you will see an occasional manifesto:

IMG_4663

Although you will find the usual collection of abstract art, much of Clarion’s work is political, such as these:

IMG_4674 IMG_4665 IMG_4661

Some of the art is whimsical:

Dear Face

Dear Face

Help This Starving Artist I'm Going to Mex.

Help This Starving Artist I’m Going to Mex.

But then there’s this one:

IMG_4667

Everyone who visits Clarion will stop and stare at this one. They will stroll past the others, but I watched for ten minutes, and every single person stopped and stared at the mother and child.

Vonn Scott Bair

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