Women’s Strife Upheld in Mural Restoration

Written by Peter Hernandez. Posted in Arts/Entertainment, Culture, News

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Published on August 01, 2012 with 2 Comments

“Maestrapeace,” a weathered mural in San Francisco’s Mission District celebrating the contributions of women around the world, will soon get a long-overdue refurbishment thanks in large part to a  $55,000 Community Challenge grant.

By Peter Hernandez

August 1, 2012

The iconic and historic “Maestrapeace” mural that adorns the Women’s Building in San Francisco’s Mission District will soon be restored to its original glory, thanks in large part to a recent surge in grant funding from the City and County of San Francisco and SF Beautiful.

The San Francisco Women’s Center received a total of $60,000 in July, nearly half the funds needed to complete the $130,000 restoration project.

The “San Francisco Seven” – the seven female artists who completed the mural 19 years ago – will use scaffolds to restore the mural’s vibrant reds and yellows using an acryloid seal to ensure longevity while combating graffiti as well as discoloring due to aging and weather.

Work is expected to begin mid-August and completed by mid-October, said artist and Precita Eyes co-founder Susan Cervantes, who is coordinating with artists to begin the work.

The three-story Women’s Building located on 18th Street between Guerrero and Valencia streets will also benefit from new window fixtures and concrete flatwork to properly frame the mural. The original mural was painted in 1994 at a cost of $43,000.

“It’s out in the community where everyone can see it and witness it and interpret it in their own world – and in their own lives,” said Women’s Building Development Director Tatjana Loh.

Images of artist Georgia O’Keefe and 1993 Nobel Laureate Rigoberta Menchu, among dozens of Aztec and Chinese goddesses, conjure introspection from the community with its sheer size – a total of 10,400 square feet.

The “San Francisco Seven” will be paid the same amount, if not less, than they were originally paid, Cervantes said. She declined to disclose how much the artists would be paid.

“They didn’t get paid enough in the first place,” Loh said.

The mural remains symbolically relevant to the community. Its ethnic inclusiveness mirror’s the Mission District’s cultural diversity and the heterogeneous population that utilizes the social services offered, services that includes access to technology, computer classes, job searching and low-cost legal advice. An estimated 20,000 residents use the building’s services each year.

Cervantes conceptualized a fantasy goddess in the piece that was met with controversy when the San Francisco Landmarks Advisory Board threatened to block public funding for the project due to the erotic and sexual nature of her bare breasts and spread legs, which served to “embody light and life-giving energy.”

The original artists, many of whom have aged since the original mural was completed, are working against time. Three can no longer climb the scaffolding due to their age and they still have to coordinate a mutually suitable time to do the work. Rain is also a concern, Loh said, particularly if the project runs behind schedule.

“I think it’s been long overdue,” Cervantes said. “If we had done it ten years ago we could have saved a lot of the color.”

Peter Hernandez

My name is Peter Hernandez. I am 21, a Mission district resident, a journalist, a musician, an avid cook, and a purveyor of San Francisco's finest bike routes. I moved here from San José in 2010. I decided upon journalism when I realized it was a device through which I could dabble in the myriad of life paths and to expand my understanding of culture and community through investigation, reporting, and critique. I believe in journalism's authority and its ability to make change. I see my future working in journalism to my fullest ability, but I know I must exhaust every ounce of productivity in me, and I know I will have to network the hell out of this city. I realize the contraction plaguing this industry, and I must be flexible and expansive in my studies in order to adapt to it.

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Comments for Women’s Strife Upheld in Mural Restoration are now closed.

  1. A wonderful project. 
    Biking and walking around our city, especially in the Mission, there are many other fading murals that document our history. It would be nice to see some of them get similar TLC.

  2. That’s just damned gorgeous!