The City of San Francisco, in partnership with the Clarion Alley Mural Project (CAMP), has unveiled a new mural in the Mission District’s famed Clarion Alley as part of San Francisco’s COVID-19 arts recovery efforts. This mural project, commissioned by the San Francisco COVID Command Center (CCC), supports an emerging artist, Elizabeth Blancas, and Mission-based nonprofit organizations while delivering a message of safety, love, and hope to the Latinx community, which has been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The mural was conceived of and painted by Elizabeth Blancas and features large portraits of nationally acclaimed Latinx poet and public speaker, Yosimar Reyes, embracing his Abuelita (grandmother) Mardonia Galeana, an 86-year-old entrepreneur known as Mama Doña. Both figures are wearing masks. Above their heads is the text “Tú Eres Mi Otro Yo,” a line from Chicano playwright Luis Valdez’s well-known poem Pensamiento Serpentino (originally published in 1973). This phrase translates to “you are my other me,” a Mayan philosophical concept that is a central theme in the poem.
Blancas and Reyes met in 2014 when they both worked for the Mission-based art space Galería de la Raza. Reyes, a San Francisco State University graduate, moved back to the Bay Area from Los Angeles at the beginning of the pandemic to care for his grandmother. They are both incredibly moved to be represented in such a prominent way.
“For us to be featured in this mural means that we are honoring the communities we represent,” said Yosimar Reyes. “The coronavirus impacted undocumented/immigrant communities at great disproportion and often we exist in the shadows, but this mural is declaring that we are essential to this country. I want my Abuela to be the beacon that reminds us to stand proud, because beyond being undocumented or workers, we are fighters. This mural is for undocumented communities to see their beauty and exist beyond what we do for this country.”
"It is an honor to create this mural in Clarion Alley as the Mission District is where I began finding my voice as a young artist,” said Elizabeth Blancas. “When tasked with creating a work for the Latinx community, I knew I wanted to send a message of intergenerational care, a reminder that we must take care of one another. Painting Yosimar and his Abuela Mama Doña is my way of honoring their beautiful relationship as well as uplifting our undocumented community."
The Clarion Alley Mural Project (CAMP), founded in 1992, is a collective of artists carrying on the tradition of adorning the alley with socially engaged murals.
“CAMP is deeply grateful for the opportunity to work with the COVID Command Center and artist Elizabeth Blancas to present such a beautiful and powerful mural,” said Megan Wilson, CAMP Co-Director. “The work speaks to the important need for intergenerational support and care for one another during these challenging times, and especially for our BIPOC communities, which have been disproportionately impacted by Covid. It’s a perfect fit for CAMP and for our community.”
“San Francisco is a beautiful and culturally- rich city, with a vibrant arts community,” said Mary Ellen Carroll, Executive Director of the COVID Command Center and the Department of Emergency Management. “Works of art like the new mural in Clarion Alley offers a glimpse into how hard COVID-19 hit San Francisco's Latinx community and communities of color. Elizabeth's mural is a great addition to the beloved Mission District, and an example of the warmth, unity, and resilience the Latinx community embodies. Let this mural be a reminder of the City of San Francisco's commitment and focus to ensure equitable access for communities that have been disproportionately impacted.”
Clarion Alley is located between Mission and Valencia Streets and 17th and 18th Streets in the Mission District. For more information, visit: https://clarionalleymuralproject.org/
High-resolution images of the mural are available here.