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Alleyway Art in the Mission: San Francisco’s Clarion Alley

The art on the walls of Clarion Alley, in the Mission District of San Francisco, calls out with its vibrant colors, eccentric iconography, and socially conscious messages. Stroll the alleyway—between Valencia and Mission and 17th and 18th—and find Southeast Asian elephants; a black-and-white mural of forceful fists and graphics reminiscent of Picasso’s Guernica; pink, yellow, and green unicorns floating in an Atari-like landscape on a garage; and random marquees amid vivid imagery, like a marking that says, “A Hard God is Good to Find.”

The backdrop is whimsical, but the occasional piece of trash or stench of urine brings you back to your senses: the alley embodies both the beauty and the grit of urban culture. The murals, ever-changing, have been around for decades, representing the city’s cultures, political messages, and collaborative community efforts. Note: These shots were not taken this year, so the art featured may or may not still be on display. I plan to take photographs here again soon.

Clarion AlleyAnn and Katie, best friends from college.

Clarion AlleyPatrick and Jennifer, during an engagement shoot.

Clarion AlleyA hard god is good to find.

Clarion AlleyPisces sisters Ann and Katie, sitting next to a pair of fish.

Clarion AlleyPatrick.

Clarion AlleyLauren, a photographer directing subjects during a shoot.

Clarion AlleyA candid shot of Jennifer and Patrick.

Clarion AlleyKatie (and her fabulous red coat).

Clarion AlleyPatrick and Jennifer, embracing in front of a mural.

Categories: art culture photography

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Cheri Lucas Rowlands

Writer at Writing Through the Fog. Editor at Automattic.

5 replies

  1. The new site design looks fantastic! And it’s made it easier to look back over past posts, which is how I found this one! Especially love the Patrickskull (very Mex), the floor fish, and most of all the lady centaur. Keep up the great work…

    Like this

    1. Thanks for the feedback on the new design — I agree, it makes it easier to find older posts, although I’m still not definite I’ll keep the theme. This alley in the Mission District is one of my favorites — colorful walls, and lots of funky stuff, too. I love the lady centaur, too!

      Like this

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