The massive mural that embodies the spirit of Carnaval and hovers over a brake-lining business at the corner of 24th and Van Ness streets will be restored this spring.
The mural titled “Carnaval Mural” stretches nearly the entire length of an apartment building and, despite fading over the years due to sun and rain, depicts the energy of Carnaval through it’s well-known faces and characters.
In 1983 talented muralist Daniel Galvez painted it with help from local artists—Dan Fontes, Keith Sklar, Jaime Morgan and his first artist instructor from Pacific University, Jan Sheild. The original project took six months to complete. Galvez plans to again use local San Franciscan talent to restore this iconic piece of art.
“(It) makes you feel good that something you did a long time ago is still valid and that people want to see it fresh again and bright again as it was some 30 years ago,” Galvez said. “It’s an honor to know that something that you did so many years ago is still a significant part of a neighborhood’s life, a community’s life.”
The Mission District has had a diverse history. In the late ‘70s it was experiencing a transformation from mainly a Latino neighborhood to a diverse melting pot of Latinos, punk rockers, bohemians, bikers, lowriders and hippies, all sharing streets such as Mission and Valencia.
The first carnaval in San Francisco was held on Feb. 25 in 1979 after years of organizing. Since then, San Francisco has hosted one of the most diverse carnavals in the world for over three decades.
On that day of the first Carnaval, award-winning photographer Lou Dematteis photographed the dancers and characters that would become a part of Galvez’ mural a few years later. After being given his name, Galvez went through Dematteis’ slides to find the ones that he would integrate into the mural as part of the main design.
Over the years Mauricio Aviles who had been actively pushing for the mural since before its creation, photographer Dematteis and muralist Galvez formed a mural restoration committee that raised funds and will begin working on the project this spring. The committee received a $50,000 grant from the San Francisco Community Challenge Grant to refurbish the 75-by-24-foot mural.
“We’re just hoping that the mural will contribute to the whole effort of maintaining the culture of the community of San Francisco,” said Aviles. “(It) is very unique.”
Carnaval almost disappeared last year because of financial difficulties, but community efforts were able to save the festival. This year, Carnaval will take place on May 23-25. The theme is “La rumba de la Copa Mundial — Celebration of the World Cup.” This will be the 36th celebration.
Even though the restoration may not be ready by then, it will serve the purpose of making an indelible mark in the neighborhood.
Denise Gonzales, who works at Luz De Luna, a small gift shop adjacent to the mural, said the mural is “part of our tradition. It’s a part of our history. We need to keep that flavor here.”