For my last article I will be focusing on art in the Mission District. One of the things that I love most about the Mission District are the murals that decorate many of the streets. From Clarion Alley, to the beautiful art work that covers the Women’s Building, the neighborhood is decorated with paint. I decided to head to the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, or MCCLA, to learn more about art in the Mission.
The center, which is located on Mission and 24th Street, is four stories tall and hosts an array of classes ranging from ballet folklorico and tango, to guitar, to screen printing and etching. The center also hosts a youth program and is a venue for art showings and music events. I was able to meet with Leticia Paez, who is in charge of Arts Education and Outreach, and Pedro Reyes, who works with events and media for the center.
They both emphasized the critical role that art played during ’70s within the Chicano an Latino movement in San Francisco. Mission Grafica is the in-house printmaking studio located on the fourth floor at MCCLA that was present during the Chicano and Latino movement and aided in making posters for the movement. “It was very political. That’s the bottom line. It was a political movement for Chicanos at that time,” Paez said.
Today, the MCCLA continues to run and aims to help people within the community through their different programs.“Its really important because the arts have been eliminated in most of the schools so they don’t really have that creative outlet in schools right now. A lot of the children lack anything that’s creative,” Paez said.
Reyes, who is a father, added that he believed arts was fundamental in creating a sense of community for children as well as teaching them about different cultures. Reyes was first introduced to MCCLA when his son went through the different classes and youth program. His younger twin daughters are now involved with the center and have taken an interest in ballet folklorico. “I think that it taught them that this is part of their culture. This is something that they can use to really empower themselves and be able to build community around it,” Reyes said.