If you’ve ever taken a walk around the Mission District, you’ll often see tourists searching for the famed murals of the Mission, where narrow alley ways boast some of the city’s greatest public art.
But if you look a little further, you’ll find a different type of art covering the walls and sidewalks – mosaics.
In the late 90’s and early 00’s, Mission Graduates (then St. John’s Educational Threshold Center) began its own neighborhood beautification efforts through our Urban ArtWORKS program. Students came together, with the help of artist Gary Carlos, to create a series of amazing mosaics that surround the Mission Graduates office.
As reported in the SF Gate on December 13, 2002:
BART patrons at San Francisco’s 16th Street station are greeted by a 40-foot-tall tile mosaic carrying a message from 250 neighborhood kids, their parents and other community members: Respect.
The piece, titled “Youth Rights,” was sponsored and paid for by BART and St. John’s Education Thresholds Center, a tutoring and after-school program in the Mission. High school students from the center, with the help of lead artist Gary Carlos and Urban Institute director Ali Vieira, made the tiles by hand, broke and cut them into shapes, fired and painted them, then mortared and grouted the piece. The process took more than seven months.
The mosaic has four themes: community, opportunity, power and rights and respect. Symbols such as stars, people, birds and keys tie the themes into a single vision.
These amazing pieces of art still decorates the streets of San Francisco. We invite you to come take a walk around this Mission with us and experience our history yourself!