For me, one of the bright spots of this year has been Thursday Doors, a challenge by blogger Norm Frampton that encourages photographers (and those of us who point and click) to share entrances, arches, doors, and even sometimes windows from around the world, both the grand and the not so grand. Sometimes those entrances have a backstory and sometimes they’re just whatever catches the eye.
My favorite doors from this year were actually garage doors. I found them in a neighborhood of San Francisco known for its extremely diverse culture: The Mission District. Before the 1970s this area was heavily hispanic and not on any tourist’s map. Then artists and hipsters, attracted by the low rents, began to move in. They convinced home owners, restaurants and shop keepers to let them brighten otherwise dark and suspicious alleyways with their artwork.
Many of the murals (like the above) have political messages. Others are whimsical.
A few had cultural overtones. I don’t know what Che is doing in the above mural but there he is. Because the Mission District is named after 1776 Mission Dolores, it’s not uncommon to see religious murals. Some are inexplicable.
To see other Mission doors click on any of these links
Today’s offerings of street art (I like that term) were not painted on garage doors (see Part 1) but on the brick walls of a parking lot. Below is a portrait of residents of the area coming together in unity beneath the black and grey images of the leading voices of Civil Rights movement.
The following murals seem to reflect a much earlier era, however, note the wall and beyond, towns on the hills out of reach. The graffiti on the wall reads “We didn’t cross the border; the border crossed us.” How true.
It was impossible to capture the following mural without including the top of someone’s car! Note that, although it appears to depict an Aztec priest holding an orb of some sort, in the lower middle is a man with a backpack. Hum, what to make of that? (I jest. That is an actual man with a backpack who somehow got into the picture without me noticing. He shows how large some of these murals are.)
The owners of the Victorian across from the parking lot were obviously trying to blend in.
Below are images that I really couldn’t make sense of. Can you?
Alleys are generally not on a tourist’s “must see” list. In fact they’re generally on the “do not enter” list. Muggers and bums live in alleys. Trashcans overflow in alleys. Drug dealers hang like vampire bats in alleys. But in an area of San Francisco known as The Mission and famous for the annual Castro Street faire and the Brazilian inspired Carnaval a network of alleyways is slowly becoming a must-see.
These are someone’s garage doors. Most of the homes and businesses in this area back up to alleys, providing a graffiti artist’s paradise.
And then gradually the area began to attract muralists.
Because this area is heavily hispanic, many of the garage doors are blessed by the Holy Mother.
Many of the murals cover not only the garage doors but the entire back and sides of buildings and the alleys are narrow.
Thus it’s difficult for a spot-and-click photographer such as myself to get the entire image. The garage doors are beneath the GG Bridge.
Many of the murals have political or socioeconomic messages.
This one pertains to the Palestinian struggle although I’m not sure what the arrows on the right mean – no way out?