Friday, August 3, 2007

Check out the murals in Balmy Alley

One of the great things about living in the Mission is the number and quality of the murals that you stumble by in the midst of your daily routine. Depending on where you live, that might happen while biking past the Women's Building to Dolores Park, scavenging for clean needles in Clarion Alley or vomiting on the ground on Clinton Park after an afternoon-that-turned-into-night at Zeitgeist. Worth a special trip, though, is Balmy Alley.

Make it an afternoon, perhaps. Get huevos rancheros or tacos at Taqueria Vallarta--located right at the 24th-Street mouth of Balmy--grab a tall boy or two from the corner store across the street and then head into the alley. You will find a block-long stretch of garages and the backs of houses painted in all manner of styles by a number of different artists. (If you're really good, you'll probably recognize the work of a few artists who have done other murals around town.) And once you pop out at 25th, make sure to keep an eye out for another Mission icon: the passed-out drunkard pissing himself in Garfield Square.

Balmy Alley connects 24th and 25th Streets and is between Treat and Harrison. The Women's Building fronts 18th Street between Valencia and Guerrero. Clarion Alley connects Valencia and Mission, between 17th and 18th. Clinton Park is a tiny street off Valencia that smells like hell. If you really dig murals and want the whole shebang, check out the walking tour offered every Saturday morning by the community arts organization Precita Eyes.

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