Beloved artistic traditions weaved together in front of the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts (MCCLA) Thursday evening at the unveiling of the center's newly restored mural.
The celebration captured the Latino-American artistic lineage cultivated in the Mission. With the scent of copal in the air, Aztec dancers from the Mixcoatl Anahuac troupe, dressed in vibrant penachos, led the re-dedication for MCCLA’s newly restored mural, “Spirit of the Arts." The unveiling honored its original artists Carlos Loarca and Betsie Miller-Kusz, in addition to muralists Carlos Gonzalez, Suaro Cervantes, Paul Kensinger and Aureliano Rivera -- all of whom received a commendation from the City of San Francisco.
"[The mural is] just a testament to the vibrancy and the diversity of this community, and that’s what we’re here celebrating," said MCCLA Director Jennie Rodriguez in her opening address at the celebration. "In these difficult moments, some of us think that maybe difficult moments are in our way, but it’s a time for the community to come together, and again, pledge their support to these institutions that are here supporting the community as well and bringing a lot of value and quality of life to our communities."
The mural's month-long restoration process — a collaboration between MCCLA and the San Francisco Arts Commission — comes 35 years after the mural's original completion.
Borrowing from Aztec, Incan and Mayan iconography, "Spirit of the Arts" is sprightly, textured and rich with history and homage. It covers the entirety of the Center’s 3,700 square-foot façade. "Spirit of the Arts" was originally painted in 1982 by Loarca, Miller-Kusz and Manuel Villamor, all of whom returned to work on its restoration to commemorate the center’s role as a fixture of the Mission district's artistic community.
In its modern manifestation, the mural symbolizes heightened political stakes both on a local and national level. District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who was slated to appear at the festivities, was not able to attend due to ongoing city budget negotiations.