Image by Enrique Moran Five Hundred Pixels
Inspired by Diego Rivera's 1930s San Francisco murals and provoked by US foreign policy in Central America, 1970s Mission muralistas (muralists) led by Mia Gonzalez set out to transform the political landscape, one mural-covered garage door at a time. Today, Balmy Alley murals span three decades, from an early memorial for El Salvador activist Archbishop Óscar Romero to a homage to Frida Kahlo, Georgia O'Keeffe and other trailblazing female modern artists.
The earliest works in Balmy Alley by Mujeres Muralistas (Women Muralists) and Placa ('mark-making') transformed back-alley fences into a united artistic front. Now nonprofit Precita Eyes restores these murals, commissions new ones by San Francisco artists and runs muralist-led tours that cover more than 50 Mission murals within an eight-block radius of Balmy Alley. On November 1, the annual Mission parade Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) begins in this alley.