Last weekend I was fortunate enough to attend an invitation-only conference in San Francisco for leaders in the field of art and disability. There were 30 of us, and we came from all over the U.S. as well as Canada, Scotland and Australia. The opening reception was at the Berkeley Art Museum, where we were wined and wooed and shown fantastic art. I didn’t take any photos of that, but there was a guy on the street playing the bagpipes surrounded by inflated plastic bags on sticks. Of course I got a photo of that.
One of the best things about the conference was that it took place in the Mission district. If you’ve been to the Mission, then you know what that means: tacos. And more tacos. And even more tacos. And after the tacos there are Mexican pastries. These had just been taken from the oven as Mark and I walked into the bakery. Still warm and coated with sugar, we bought some to snack on during the short time we had to walk around and explore a bit.
One of the other fantastic things about the Mission is the abundance of murals. It seems as if everywhere you look there’s a painted wall or door or entire building. Balmy Alley is a prime example. According to a brochure I grabbed at the Precita Eyes Mural Arts and Visitors Center, “The murals began in the mid-70’s as artists’ outrage over human rights and political abuses in Central America. Today the alley contains murals on a myriad of styles and subjects from human rights to local gentrification to AIDS to Hurricane Katrina.”
It is easy to see the differences between the old and new murals. I love the newer ones with their extensive use of stencils and their take on current issues.
But my favorites are the old murals. The ones with the faded and peeling paint that look like one day they will just quietly disappear into the bougainvillea as if they understand that their time is up.
I could have walked around looking at the murals of the Mission for days. Unfortunately, there were things to learn, information to share and philosophical differences to discuss. This conference was an amazing experience.
Plus I got to have a conversation about airport security, Breaking Bad and parasites with a Canadian over sangria and Peruvian cuisine. Bonus.
Just a little fyi: If you’re planning to travel, are a little adventurous and haven’t checked out airbnb , you must. We were able to find a sweet, clean one-bedroom apartment in a perfect location for way less than the price of a hotel room.