A Clarion (Alley) Call to Celebrate October 25th

DSC_0038Chris Statton delicately maneuvered his paintbrush, a swirl of bright yellow filling in the “O” in “October,” as in “October 25th,” the day of the Clarion Alley Block Party.

“The letters are the hardest part. I’m refining them all now,” says Statton, of one-time Roxie Theater fame before stepping down a year ago. Statton swats aside his hair being pushed out of his cap, a smile revealed through a paint-speckled face.

Clarion Alley is nestled between Misson and Valencia streets, a colorful bridge between two different worlds nowadays. The Clarion Alley Mural Project (CAMP) is an artists’ collective, founded in 1992 by six original members who were all residing in the Mission. The vision was to have murals showcasing social equity–an idea espoused by MEDA—turning a gritty alley to one alive with color and just a dash of that former grit.

“The block party is kind of an excuse to clean up the alley, getting rid of any graffiti and trash. It’s a way to keep the alley the best it can be. It’s been here for 22 years, as this new mural celebrates, so it deserves our care,” protectively exclaims Statton.

Plans are for plenty of live music and a kids’ costume parade at this free Saturday event on October 25th. With over 700 murals created over the years, there are usually about 50 featured pieces on the block-long space’s north and south walls at any given time. The thousands of hours of painstaking mural work is definitely something to be commemorated.

Tourist Katya, who hails from Germany, was clearly drawn to the murals of Clarion Alley as she sauntered in the midday sun.

“The colors are amazing. These murals bring the Mission to life. I had heard about the murals from friends who had visited here, but the art is even better than I had imagined,” states the first-time visitor to San Francisco, before snapping some images with her iPhone and heading off for some lunch nearby.

As Statton’s talent showcases today, Clarion Alley is a constant work in progress–a metaphor for a neighborhood that is also in constant flux. While the murals change, it is great to see this open-air art museum be a mainstay of the Mission community.