‘A Mural: in 3 Acts,’ a film by Catherine Herrera, showing Tonight!


‘The whole Mission neighborhood is a massive public artwork, both sacred and profane, brimming with graff and goddess.” Carlos Santana, from the foreword to Street Art San Francisco: Mission Muralismo, written by Annice Jacoby.

Come on down to the de Young Museum this evening to see the premiere of ‘A Mural: in 3 Acts’ which captures the creation of a mural made specifically for tonight’s event!

For the last several months the de Young Museum, through its Cultural Encounters Friday Nights Programs, has been exhibiting and featuring aspects of San Francisco’s Mural movement, covering its inception up through today.

‘A Mural: in 3 Acts’ is a film commissioned to capture the mural creation process. It was a fantastic experience participating by creating this document of the muralists and their process, in great part because of the spirit and talent of this group of young muralists, working out of Precita Eyes Mural Arts and Vistor Center. All hardworking men, these guys donate their time and skill to giving back, not only through mural art but through the process. Working with youth, this group of muralists inspires the love of storytelling for younger generations, and passes on a visual tradition that not only transformed San Francisco but joined a world-wide mural movement built alongside the Mexican mural movement.

The mural captures the spirit of this art form, which is not only the final product, but the essence of its creation. While the muralists worked, neighbors, on-lookers, supporters and passers-by all stopped to ask, inquire, start new friendships.

There is so much debate around muralism – attacks that damage or destroy murals appear to be a statement as well on a culture – but what the debate and attacks miss are all the people who went into the mural, the spirit of the interactions between people, that infuses the mural. In part, perhaps this explains the heart stopping reaction when one hears a mural has been lost, for it’s a loss of community spirit that went into that mural.

My great hope with ‘A Mural: in 3 Acts’ is to share the notion of story that each mural represents so that one can better understand the spirit in the murals that one may pass by on the street – join in by sharing your spirit when you see a mural in progress – or take steps to protect a mural knowing you are protecting community spirit.

I also hope through this video to show the skill and artistry with which muralists carry forth their work. What struck me too about this project was the combination of traditional muralism with spray paint technique – most often associated with city blight in graffiti – yet, from the film, its clear, there is as much ability and spirit in their work as any traditional approach.

I want to thank Renee Baldocchi from the de Young Museum, Cultural Encounters; Annice Jacoby, author and project coordinator of Street Art San Francisco: Mission Muralismo, who has brought together a terrific range of speakers, films and activities celebrating San Francisco’s Muralism tradition; Susan Cervantes, Precita Eyes Mural Arts and Visitor Center; and Lise Swenson, independent filmmaker and advisor.

It’s REALLLLY worth mentioning that Precita Eyes Mural Arts and Visitor Center offers tours of famed Balmy Alley with a unique infusion of mural history from the center founded by Susan Cervantes Polk, an amazing woman who has created a center to celebrate muralism but, also, through the scholarship program, makes it possible for low-income youth in the neighborhood to grow through art in classes designed for kids from young tots through high school. Consider visiting today and support a community!

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