The Murals of the Outer Sunset
Inspired by the upcoming whale mural to be located at the Sunset Cooperative Nursery School, a project initiated by the Save The Waves surfing and ocean-environment organization, I decided to explore the rest of the Outer Sunset and to see what other murals we have out here. Murals are a part of San Francisco, especially in a neighborhood such as the Mission. I was hopeful that I would find bountiful and beautiful public art right here in our own neighborhood.
I found further inspiration from one of the Bulletin’s columnist, Allison Baltzersen and her “Allison Walks” way of exploring every street of the city. I modified her ethos and hopped on my bike to cycle every named street (as compared to the numbered streets) of the Outer Sunset.
I started at the intersection of Sunset and Sloat boulevards, then went down to the Great Highway, turned right and came up Wawona Street to Sunset. I turned left to get to Vicente Street, then went back down the hill to the Great Highway. I did this all the way until I got to Lincoln Way, zigzagging up and down the hill, and keeping my eyes peeled for murals along the way.
The end result was an extremely enjoyable way to spend my Saturday, but it also made me proud of how much public art we have in our overlooked neighborhood. In almost four hours of biking and taking pictures, I found 20 murals. Not too shabby.
There are a number of other murals near Ocean Beach, including those in the Beach Chalet and the Outer Richmond, but that project will have to wait for a future date.
Unsurprisingly, most of the murals take inspiration from our western border, Ocean Beach.
I have my favorites, which I am giving special attention in this article, but they are all pretty spectacular. Look through them and you may find some of your own favorites. And be sure to check out the Google Map at the bottom, which shows the location of all the murals so you can find them for yourself. If I forgot any, leave a comment and I’ll be sure to go snap a picture or two and add it here.
The best Sunset District murals
The Pizza Place on Noriega
The Pizza Place, at Noriega Street and 46th Avenue, has incredible murals. On the east-facing wall is a mural that seems almost cubist, and shows a jazz club. The mural predates the Pizza Place, but the owners have done wonderful things to complement it. I talked with Cindy, one of the owners of the Pizza Place, about the motivation to expand the mural.
“A lot of our customers were having trouble finding the restaurant,” Cindy confessed, “and installing a sign is actually really expensive to do. So we went with a mural instead.”
Nicole Andrijauskas, one of the employees of the restaurant at the time the newer murals were painted, is an artist and agreed to do something “funky and full of color” to add some character to the street. The end result is brilliant. They have added a huge pizza (obviously), as well as winged pints of beer on the east side. On the north side, above the awning, is an imaginative beachscape with surfing meatballs and suntanning strips of bacon. Awesome.
The Ortega Hub
I made up this name for a two-block stretch along Ortega Street, from 38th Avenue to 40th. It applies to three consecutive buildings, each with its own mural: A.P. Giannini Middle School, the Ortega Branch of the San Francisco Public Library and Sunset Elementary School.
Giannini’s mural probably is one of my favorites, as it shows the narrative of the destruction of the city in the 1906 earthquake and fire, and how Giannini, the school’s namesake, loaned money to the city to help it rebuild. The Ortega Branch of the library is being rebuilt, but the still-standing structures nearby have some lovely beach scenes. Sunset Elementary School has a wonderfully diverse mural-scape, with two sections of tiled murals and a huge ocean scene across the front entrance.
The Queen of the Beach
Just a few houses away from where the Great Highway splits and forms La Playa is one of the most colorful and memorable houses in the neighborhood, if not the entire city. It is home to Carol, the “Queen of the Beach,” a legend in her own right, and the house fits her reputation.
The southern wall of the house is covered in a beautiful mural of our city’s namesake, St. Francis, but the mural is just the beginning of the experience. Her front entrance and garage are full of little treasures. A few years ago, while walking past the house with my mom, we bumped into Carol, who invited us inside for a full tour. We spent almost two hours in her house and in her backyard, in awe. It’s a really spectacular place.
The rest of the murals from the neighborhood
I saw murals at residences, nursery schools, playgrounds, restaurants — you name it. Enjoy this more scattered perspective of the neighborhood’s murals.
Here’s the map, with each mural demarcated with a blue pin. You can zoom in and manipulate the map, like you would with any other Google Map.
View Murals of the Outer Sunset in a larger map
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