Why Street Art?

Praying with Rosary Clarion Alley

Why Street Art?

It began with living in the Mission District of San Francisco and being surrounded by the beautiful bounty of street art. From community youth art projects to sides of buildings covered in images of Latino life, to San Francisco homages (The Giants, Golden Gate Bridge, Low Riders) and to long alleys dedicated to semi-permanent scenes and stories of social justice and self-expression. Everywhere I looked there was something to be seen, sometimes a well-organized mural for the guidebooks or something personal that would be covered over again in a short time. There was such a plethora I felt it needed to be documented.

I think what first drew me to street art and outside murals was the rich use of color, although large scale pieces with just black and white markings are not uncommon. The other thing I enjoy about street art is that it is just there; in the street, for everyone, to find, to experience as one moves about their day–walking to work or school and coming home. You don’t need to pay admission to a museum or have a special qualification to enjoy street art. It often reflects stories of the community, of our environs and is an opportunity for people to have a voice. Alleys and buildings are transformed from being ungainly to holding tanks for lifetimes of history. Places to shout about our current oppression or to sometimes it’s just a weird mural of cat wearing sneakers.

Duboce N Judah Temp Mural

When I talk about street art I am including planned executed murals along with guerrilla art and graffiti and those in between. There is an element of rebellion and freedom with street art. Obviously with graffiti and art that is illegally placed but even the legal stuff is bold. There is an urgency to street art and a lack of boundaries. You are going to see it whether you want to or not. The pieces are large. It’s intense but often not over thought. It goes outside convention. Most buildings were not built with the idea that whole sections would be covered in spray paint or that a fence would become an installation. But the artist saw a blank canvas or saw an opportunity to do something.


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