by Kerri Young
“Music is Freedom” mural by Delvin Kenobe Leake on Francis Street and Mission Street, funded by Excelsior Action Group and the Cucalon Family. Dedicated to the residents, families, and community of the Excelsior as a tribute and celebration of culture and diversity. (Heritage photo, December 2019).
Some of San Francisco’s most outstanding art is found on city streets, in exuberant neighborhoods like the Excelsior. As part of our Heritage in the Neighborhoods project, we’ve mapped some of the best known examples of public art in this southern district. Many pieces were created as part of the Excelsior Action Group’s (EAG) ongoing mural program, with participation from students, San Francisco-based artists, and Excelsior community members. Many standout mosaic pieces can also be found in the Excelsior, from the tiled steps in Kenny Alley to the Ever Upward Sculpture at Geneva and Mission. While some murals have since been painted over, you can visit EAG’s Mural Program page for examples of community murals painted in the past. Themes depicted in Excelsior’s public art include neighborhood pride, significant local places and buildings, multiculturalism, natural landscapes, and more. In addition to EAG, we’d like to thank SF Mural Arts for their past work in mapping the Excelsior’s murals (as well as others around the city), and Heritage’s very own Research Assistant William Beutner, who has also completed research on art in the Excelsior.
We’ve included highlights of murals and mosaics that we know currently still exist today. This map is by no means comprehensive as we could not go out and confirm as many as we would like, so we welcome your suggestions! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have knowledge of (and even have photos of) existing Excelsior art that we’ve missed.
Detail of the “Last Supper”-themed murals on the the facade of the Royal Baking Company Building at 4773 Mission St.
“Waiting for the 52 Excelsior” (2001) by Marta Ayala on Excelsior Avenue at Mission Street.
Detail from “The San Francisco You Should Know,” created by Precita Eyes Muralists in 2009 to acknowledge the history of the Excelsior District and the heritage of its residents.