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One Really Awesome Reason to See San Francisco

Urban art is the wave of the future with its youthful exuberance and emotionally-charged subjects. And when it comes to street art, there's no better than the street of San Francisco. In fact, the Mission District street art is one of the very best reasons to visit the city by the bay.

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Street Art of San Francisco's Mission District

Why Visit the Mission District?

A while back I got the chance to spend the day exploring the area, taking in the sights/sounds/tastes of the rapidly gentrifying area. And while I've already documented my thoughts about visiting San Francisco, I haven't yet shared my photography journal of my Mission District Day. The photos below are my own, but I take no credit for the amazing work on display in the Mission.

My time in San Francisco was simultaneously invigorating and frustrating. There truly are many great reasons to see San Francisco, including the history and quirky personality of the city. I can easily understand how travelers might get overwhelmed when trying to decide on a San Francisco itinerary. But the street art in the mission is one of the best reasons to see San Francisco in my opinion.

unknown artist

What's the Big Deal About Street Art Anyway?

Just to be clear, I'm not an expert in street art by any means. I simply like it...a lot. But I'll be the first to say that not all street art is created equal. I've seen plenty of less-than-stellar street art and unintelligible graffiti. That's definitely not what I found in San Francisco. Quite the contrary actually. These pieces were intricate, evocative and thought-provoking. I could have spent several days exploring the outdoor galleries of the Mission District and diving further into the street culture.

I love street art for several reasons. It's unique. It's undeniably difficult and often done under oppressive circumstances. It's usually colorful, something I really appreciate (see my thoughts on Dutch art here). It's timely and fleeting, so viewing can really feel intimate and personal. What you see one day may be gone the next. Most of all, I love the freedom street artists convey in their work. Think about it: they aren't creating a piece of art to sell or display in a gallery. They are creating for the sake of creating, giving voice to their own thoughts and feelings in a very public way.

It doesn't really matter if you like street art or not. Everyone can appreciate the beauty of the street art I found in San Francisco. Why? Because it tells a story, a tale of the two cities that now inhabit the peninsula. On one hand you've got the old-school, working class neighborhoods trying to survive. On the other, you've got the newer, more affluent residents trying to lay claim to their slice of urban paradise while driving up rents and forcing out long-term residents. The worlds are colliding in the Mission, at least that's what I read in the art adorning the exterior walls, alleys and public spaces of the historic neighborhood.

Who's right? Who's wrong? I think it depends on who you ask. I'm an underdog kinda gal, so I tend to side with the downtrodden. But I can see why curious folks who are interested in culture and art would want to live there. I sure did! In fact, I believe I messaged several people that day declaring my undying love for the Mission District of San Francisco.

Our Lady by Unknown Artist
Unknown Artist
Roar by Zio Ziegler

Why Street Art in the Mission District is Different

The art you see in these photos belongs to the many amazing street artists of San Francisco. The photos belong to me, but I can't claim any rights to the intellectual property. When drafting this post I was overcome with strong desire to give credit where credit is due. I started down the rabbit hole of Google and quickly landed on Street Art SF, a pretty darn awesome website if I do say so myself.

I was immediately struck by the vivid images, the in-depth artist interviews and the thoughtful blog posts. The site's apparent goal is to not only showcase and catalog the street art but to give viewers more context and information about the art and the artists themselves. I did some deep diving in the archives and soon realized I was in WAY over my head. There is clearly a TON of street art going up around San Francisco all the time. The catalog is impressive to say the least.

Overwhelmed but determined, I filled out the contact form on the site. I quickly received a response from Jane B of Street Art SF. Jane kindly helped identify many of the artists and art works featured in the photos below. And for that help I am forever grateful! I encourage you to head over to Street Art SF (after you finish reading this post, of course) to dig deeper into the powerful work going on in San Francisco's streets. In the meantime, I bring you my travel photos in hopes that it inspires you to dig deeper and #exploremore.

Unknown Artist
Unknown Artist
A Couple by Crystal Hermann
Stop Corporatocracy by Megan Wilson
Mark Bode
Einstein Gone Blue by Eugor
Lilac Alley, Various Artists
Santa by Tadlock
Plymouth by After
Words Come First by Dare
El Defensor de la Mission by Sirron Norris
Guarina Lopez
artist unknown
Mission Makeover by Lucia Ippolito
Memorias Primas by Marta Ayala

Let's Stay in Touch

Like this post? If so, be sure to check out my list of top San Francisco attractions, my review of Alcatraz Island, or any of my other travel articles! Follow me on Instagram where you'll stay up-to-date on all my photography projects. While you're there, be sure to tune into Instastories! Get a glimpse inside my crazy life in Cali.

Thanks for all your support. It means the world to me!

Until next time my friends,

Carlie Dayle

  • Reply
    Rob Taylor
    June 15, 2016 at 8:20 pm

    What a great collection! It’s amazing how taking a theme and reviewing your travels or stories, you’re able to put together such a cool assemblage of images. Well done you and well done SF for always being relevant!

  • Reply
    June 16, 2016 at 3:49 am

    I love street art! And, this is fabulous. I’ll be going to San Francisco for the first time this summer and am really looking forward to seeing this for myself.

  • Reply
    Ashleigh Mowers
    June 16, 2016 at 7:00 am

    Love it Carlie!

  • Reply
    melody pittman
    June 16, 2016 at 8:46 am

    What a fun and informative post! I’ve been to San Fran twice but never taken the time to see all the gorgeous street art. I loved that you went out of your way to contact someone to get the artists name, how thoughtful. My favorite of course is the Michael Jackson wall but the artist Andre Karpov is really talented, too, and that wall draws me in.

  • Reply
    June 16, 2016 at 8:47 am

    What a beautiful collection of street art photographs!! And a great idea for the IGTravelChallenge. I love street art, there is often a lot of meaning behind it.

  • Reply
    Gennifer Rose
    June 16, 2016 at 11:18 am

    Hi Carlie! I am a San Francisco Bay Area native and I am glad to hear you enjoyed visiting our city. Love the collection of photos of the street art, there’s certainly to lack of it here. I did a similar post last year on my blog:

    I hope you come back to visit soon!
    xo Gennifer

  • Reply
    June 17, 2016 at 10:46 am

    Nice article and pictures!
    We subscribe to your blog 🙂
    Ultimate Paris Guide Team

    • Reply
      June 18, 2016 at 9:32 pm

      Thanks so much for your kind feedback and support! It means a lot!

  • Reply
    June 20, 2016 at 7:09 am

    Wow …that is such an awesome collection of Street Art. Very diverse too.

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