Travel the length of Calle 24 from Mission Street to Potrero Avenue, through the year between Carnaval and Día de los Muertos, and experience a richness of culture unmatched anywhere else in the world. Here are just a few of the sites that enliven our neighborhood with history, spirituality, and community.
Acción Latina’s Juan R. Fuentes Art Gallery
The Juan R. Fuentes art gallery is nestled in the heart of San Francisco’s Latino Cultural District at 2958 24th Street. The gallery seeks to showcase the work of established and emerging Latino artists as well as that of non-Latino artists whose work reflects the nuances of Latino life locally, nationally and internationally. The exterior wall of the new gallery features scaled down, exact replicas of several Maya bas-relief masterpieces. The gallery is surrounded by the vibrancy of Latino culture that has made this area world renowned and a popular tourist destination. Open Tuesday through Saturday, 11AM – 5PM. www.accionlatina.org
This block long alley is the best place to see the most concentrated collection of murals in San Francisco. The murals began in the mid-80’s as artists’ outrage over human rights and political abuses in Central America. Today the alley contains murals on a myriad of subjects and styles from human rights, to AID/HIV in Africa and local gentrification.
The alley is best viewed on foot- either by yourself or on a guided tour from Precita Eyes Mural Arts (check events calendar). Park nearby or take the short walk from BART (San Francisco’s subway). The alley is constantly changing. Please come visit in person and see the beauty that is mural art. www.balmyalley.com
The Brava Theater
In a space that was once the York theater, which was itself once the Roosevelt, which opened in 1926 as a vaudeville house and later morphed into a second-run movie theater, Brava for Women in the Arts puts on stage productions in what is possibly the only female-owned theater in the country. This 300-seat, 13,000-sq. ft. renovated Deco space hosts plays largely written by women and minorities, as well as holding workshops for kids and adults in most aspects of theater production, from writing to directing to acting. See their web site for calendar of programs.
2781 24th St, between York and Hampshire.
(415) 647-2822 (box office).
Galería de La Raza
La Galería is a non-profit art gallery and artist collective that serves the heavily-Latino population of San Francisco’s Mission District. The Galería mounts exhibitions, hosts poetry readings, workshops, and celebrations, sells works of art, and sponsors youth and artist-in-residence programs. Exhibitions mounted at the Galería tend to feature the work of minority and developing countries artists and concern issues of ethnic history, identity, and social justice.
857 24th St., near Bryant Street
Precita Eyes Mural Arts and Visitors Center
The center offers weekend tours of dozens of colorful murals in the neighborhood, explaining the political and social messages behind some of the artwork. Everyone’s favorite place to view murals is Balmy Alley, which features more than 30 of them and feels like another country, with its profusion of bougainvillea spilling over garden fences. Balmy runs from 24th Street to 25th Street, between Treat and Harrison streets. Aspiring muralists can purchase art supplies from the Visitors Center or find out how to participate in mural-painting projects.
2981 24th St., at Harrison St.
24th Street Mini Park
To describe the mini park as colorful would be an understatement. The park’s design features play off the site’s existing colorful murals by transforming painted images into a kaleidoscope of hues and three-dimensional forms. Gradations of blue paving bands draw visitors into the park. Situated to the left, abstract plant forms are designed to be interactive light elements. Further into the park, a large mosaic serpent interrupts the pathway, while the entrance into the play area appears to the right. The play area contains conventional play equipment, including a teeter-totter and swing. A curving seat wall separates the play area from the sidewalk. The colorful pathway continues to a sculptural, mosaic snake that weaves in and out of the ground plane with children’s slides at its head. The tail of the snake wraps around a playful water-spray feature. 24th and York.
St. Peter’s Catholic Church
This Roman Catholic Church is a lesser-known San Francisco landmark, built out of redwood in 1886 for a parish then composed primarily of Irish immigrants. Though a 1997 fire (started by a votive candle) all but destroyed the building and its interior artwork, it has since been restored to pristine condition. Admire the Gothic trompe l’oeil painting inside, and then walk around the corner to Florida Street to check out the murals on the adjoining church buildings.
The church entrance is on Alabama St., near 24th St.