Friday, June 25, 2010

Day of The Dead - In June!

Seems like Dia de los Muertos (Day of The Dead) imagery is everywhere these days. You can see calaveras and grinning skeletons on t-shirts, hoodies, even sneakers. On a walk through the Mission District of San Francisco I captured several interesting images the other day.

I started my walk on 16th street and Dolores. I saw this cool dress on the window of Sunhee Moon, a kicky boutique for fashionable gals. The pattern of the dress seems to be inspired by Dia de los Muertos papel picado patterns! Very cool, isn't it? The design is called "Calya" and also comes in red for $195. Sunhee Moon also has "Meg" (pictured below) also in a papel picado print, but with bird and flower designs. It is $248. If you like these dresses also check out my other post about the papel picado dresses by Ronaldo Fraga.

Valencia street seems busy with the many efforts to widen the sidewalks, plant trees and add additional lightening.

The drain grills installed on the newly planted trees are also Day of The Dead inspired. They actually seem to be based on a design by Mexican engraver Jose Guadalupe Posada:

Posada's work is mostly associated with the Dia de Los Muertos holiday here in the US, but back in Mexico he is better known as a social commentator. His work was full of irony and political satire. On the same note, this mural seems to be in the spirit of Posada's work. I don't know the name of the artist, but the mural is also on Valencia street.

On the corner of 18th and Valencia I saw more interesting public art. This poster reminds me a bit of Maori tattoos but it is also reminiscent of calaveras and The Day of The Dead holiday.

Interestingly enough the Calavera poster was posted on a construction site where the former Valencia Hotel used to stand. Many people met horrific deaths during the 1906 earthquake, more than in any other site in San Francisco. Many were trapped three stories below the surface under mud, and the rest of the survivors burned alive. The image comes via The Virtual Museum of The City of San Francisco. It is available for licensing.

This corner was also the former site of a lagoon, La Laguna de Dolores (The Lagoon of Sorrows). During an earthquake the land can liquefy and become unstable. I am not superstitious but I would not want to live here...

Finally I end my walk at The Women's Building, on 16th Street. This section of the mural represents the Goddess Coyolxauqui, Goddess of the moon. The skull on her waist and arms represent blood, because according to Aztec lore, Coyolxauqui was dismembered by her brother. Here, the artist represents the Goddess whole and vigorous. A wise teacher once told me that during hard times we have to be comfortable in the dark...Just like the moon.

I used to have my studio on Lapidge and 18th, I remember when the beautiful mural "Maestrapiece" was being painted - I used to walk by almost every day. The anniversary of the mural was celebrated in September. It is hard to believe that it has been 15 years. It is nice to see that some influences from the "Latino Soul" of the Mission are still present, even during times of great gentrification.

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