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Clarion Alley, San Francisco's Hidden Mural Utopia, Turns 20 Years Old (PHOTOS)

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There's been a lot to celebrate this October. Halloween, more than one stretch of Indian summer, the best-looking group of baseball boys declaring victory in Detroit.

But it's not fair to overlook the smaller milestones just because San Francisco is swathed in a sea of orange and black. October also marked the 20th anniversary of our favorite local mural project, the Mission's Clarion Alley.

(SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTOS)

Described by some as "the last bastion of true art and street culture in the Mission," the Clarion Alley Mural Project was founded by a group of volunteer street artists in 1992 and has since flourished into a colorful destination for neighborhood residents and visitors alike.

At any given time, some 50 murals, ranging in tone from political-charged to solemn to irreverent to joyous, adorn the walls of the two-block stretch of street. Over the past two decades, the strip has transformed from a seedy, dangerous alleyway to a sought-after destination. (We even witnessed a wedding photo shoot there earlier this year!)

Artists span the gamut of ages and ethnicities and the artwork comes and goes fluidly, whenever a muralist (or tagger) is moved. Each October, a handful of new murals are painted during Clarion's annual block party.

Some pieces last longer than others. As SFist noted last week, Tanya Wischerath's groundbreaking design honoring transgendered activists was tagged just days after it was finished. Others, like Mats Stromberg's depiction of ghosts and the cityscape, endure for years. The legendary Banksy himself even added his magic touch a few years ago.

As Mission Local aptly observed, "It's all part of a constant evolution that's as much a metaphor for the Mission District as a product of the neighborhood itself."

Take a look at some images from the alley below, and be sure to take a stroll over there yourself if you haven't already (you'll find the entrance just south of 17th and Mission Streets):

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Around the Web

Clarion Alley Mural Project - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Clarion Alley - Mission - San Francisco, CA

Clarion Alley Mural Project | Facebook

Clarion Alley Mural Project - Megan Wilson

Clarion Alley and Post-modernism - FoundSF

Clarion Alley - NYTimes.com

San Francisco Mural Arts | Mission | Clarion Alley

The Clarion Alley Mural Project | SF Station

Clarion Alley | SF Bay Guardian

VIDEO: Clarion Alley Turns 20

Trans activists honored in Clarion Alley mural

Mural Honoring Trans Activists Unveiled on Clarion Alley, Already Tagged

Filed by Carly Schwartz