The Carnaval Restoration Committee announced at a June 28 El Tecolote benefit that the contract to restore the iconic mural at 24th & South Van Ness streets has been finalized and the project can now move forward.
“It was a great way to announce it publicly,” said muralist and community artist Daniel Galvez, who originally created the mural 30 years ago. Galvez together with Mauricio Aviles and Lou Dematteis form the restoration committee.
It was waiting for the last signature that had delayed the finalization of the contract for the mural. After that signature, the contract still had to be approved by the city of San Francisco.
“Everyone wanted to make sure they were not going to be held liable if there were any problems,” Dematteis said.
The $50,000 grant received from the city, however, was significantly less than the requested amount. With this knowledge, Galvez expects that he will have to complete the project in less time than expected.
“We can make it on the skin of our teeth on the $50,000 award,” Galvez said. “We actually requested $58,000.”
Although challenging, the lack of funds will not be a deterrent. Plans for fundraising are already circulating and with help from the community, the final amount needed to complete the project will likely be raised.
Aviles, also a cultural activist for the Latino community, is planning a formal press conference now that the project is underway.
There will be two major changes in the restoration process, the first being the artistic medium used.
“Last time I did this I used an oil-based enamel and it didn’t really hold well over time, I found out, so I’ll be using acrylic,” said Galvez. “It’s a water based medium. It’s flexible and it can move.”
The second change will be the superior varnish.
“I’ll be applying a new varnish that is specially formulated for outdoor mural work.” Galvez said. “The chemistry will add to the color facets, and length of time [that] the material holds up under severe weather conditions.”
Three of the original four artists who accompanied Galvez will be participating in the restoration: Dan Fonts, Jaime Morgan and Jan Shield.
“It hasn’t been easy,” said Dematteis, a photographer and part-time journalism professor at City College of San Francisco. “We got a lot of letters of support that were a part of our submission to the city.”
But Dematteis said he believes the restoration is symbolic of something more profound.
“It’s also part of an artistic pushback to what is happening in the Mission District,” he said. “To preserve the art and culture of the neighborhood, a lot of artists have stepped up, like Alejandro Murguia, one of the coolest current poet laureates of San Francisco.”
The projected starting date is Aug. 1, after which it will take about four months to complete the restoration of the mural.
“It’s a fine line between the political situation and the arts,” Aviles said. “And a lot of these artists have committed themselves to fight for the community and the mural is a very strong part of that.”