What is Clarion Alley? Revolutionary Art in San Fransisco

Clarion Alley, tucked away in the Mission District of San Fransisco, at first appears as a small colorful back-street. It's the bright strokes that suck you in at first, but the messages and the creativity are what trap you there in wonder. 

Graffiti is a controversial and sometimes abused form of art. One of it's most redeeming qualities is how raw each spray, each brush of paint is. Street art is a way of coloring spilling what's on the inside of one mind into the outside where others can see it. 

The now famous alley runs exactly one block that is 560 feet long and 15 feet wide between 17th and 18th street. What was once a collection of graffiti spiraled into an entire mural project run by the Clarion Alley Mural Project (CAMP). 

CAMP originated with six artists in 1992 and has no single theme. Instead, the project focuses on two goals: inclusiveness and variety. This means that anyone, regardless of age, artistic level, race, sex, religion, can participate in the project. Clarion Alley has had over 700 murals and continues to grow.

The oldest mural was painted in 1994 by Chuy Campusano. Campusano passed away in 1997, but the project has maintained his original mural to preserve the art that started it all. The artists are allowed and encouraged to paint whatever they'd like without restrictions on their creativity. This leads to an abundance of ideas, social commentary, and incredibly beautiful variety. For me, the street was a concentrated area where ideas collide and burst into being. 

The art draws tourists and community members inside the alley to reflect. While there, I saw photographers, a couple walking a dog and even a nike running club. A feeling of energy floats through the air of the small alley and into the people who walk through it.

Here are a few of the projects: 

1. In Memory of Kristen Brydom: 

2. We All Deserve a Healthy and Safe Community 

3. Tree City 

4. Pico Sanchez 


5. ZAP 


Each mural is unique in it's take on the world, it's brush strokes, design and ideas. For a colorful view of the world, literally, and figuratively through the messages the art conveys, take a stroll down Clarion Alley.