The Mission of CAMP is to support and produce socially engaged and aesthetically diverse public art as a grassroots community-based, artist-run organization based in San Francisco.
Throughout its history Clarion Alley Mural Project (CAMP) has used public art as a force for those who are marginalized and a place where culture and dignity speak louder than the rules of private property or a lifestyle that puts profit before compassion, respect, and social justice.
Clarion Alley runs one block (560 ft long and 15 ft. wide) in San Francisco’s inner Mission District between 17th & 18th and Mission and Valencia streets. Clarion Alley Mural Project (CAMP) was established in 1992 by a volunteer collective of six residents/ artists – Aaron Noble, Rigo 92, Sebastiana Pasztor, Michael O’Connor, Mary Gail Snyder, and Arcely Soriano – who were inspired by the murals of Balmy Alley that began in the early-70’s as an expression of artists’ outrage over human rights and political abuses in Central America and focused on Central American social struggles.
However, CAMP did not choose a single theme and instead focused on the two goals of social inclusiveness and aesthetic variety. As a result CAMP has produced over 700 murals on and around Clarion Alley by artists of all ethnicities, ages, and levels of experience, with an emphasis on emerging artists, new styles and a social justice framework. Additionally, CAMP has produced large-scale projects off-site, including the Redstone Labor Temple Project and Sama-Sama/Together an international exchange and residency with artists from Yogyakarta Indonesia.
Organizers of CAMP over the years include: Aaron Noble, Rigo 92, Sebastiana Pator, Michael O’Connor, Mary Gail Snyder, Arcely Soriano, Diego Diaz, Vince Oresman, Carolyn Castaño, Permi Gill, Kate Ellis, Maya Hayuk, Megan Wilson, Jonathan Parra, Jen Bowman, Andrew Schoultz, Ivy Jeanne McClelland, Jet Martinez, CUBA, Daniel Doherty, Antonio Roman-Alcala, Jet Martinez, Kelly Ording, Mary Scott, Tauba Auerbach, Ania Wasiutynski, K2, Christopher Statton,Jose V. Guerra Awe, Mike Reger,David Petrelli, Erin Feller, Erin Amelia Ruch, Jean Yaste, and Jamila Keba.
Since the project began in 1992 CAMP has received permission from all but two of the building owners on the alley to curate murals on the facades of the structures on Clarion Alley.
As a 20+ year-old project, CAMP has a very limited number of spaces that become available each year for new works; therefore:
- CAMP primarily reaches out to artists and/or organizations that the project is interested in exhibiting and/or working with collaboratively.
- CAMP does accept submissions for new projects; however, please note that preference is give to Bay Area-based artists and organizations due to the need for artists to be available to maintain their spaces.
CAMP’s Guiding Principles:
- Visual messaging can provide a powerful vehicle for supporting political, economic, and social equity and dismantling intersectional oppression.
- Sensitivity and awareness of cultural, racial, economic, migratory, sexual, and gender-related challenges and identities is necessary for CAMP to function as an inclusive organization that maintains space for people of all backgrounds and experiences.
- Non-commodified public spaces are critical for building and maintaining healthy communities.
- It is critical to the health and sustainability of CAMP to respect and honor the generosity of the residents of Clarion Alley in their support of the project.
- Murals and other forms of street art have a long and strong history of helping to build understanding and respect within and among communities.
- There are multiple sides to every story. Therefore, we prioritize places of alignment and recognize that full agreement is not necessary for collaboration.
Clarion Alley has been an enchanted site of bohemian culture at least as far back as the early sixties when artists like the Cockettes and Terry Riley performed in the same warehouse that the Clarion Alley Mural Project (CAMP) was based in until its demolition in 2002. CAMP has been a grass roots project from beginning to future. Organized by a revolving community of artists and activists who have volunteered thousands of hours with the added generosity of hundreds of community members who’ve helped to support the project over the years. In a city that is rapidly changing to cater to the one-percent at every level, CAMP is one of the last remaining truly punk venues in San Francisco.
The evolution of the project since its beginnings has been one of incredible successes:
- The initial transformation of the alley to a space filled with murals – color, as well as the City’s first black and white murals with a full range of styles and content – as a collective community effort;
- Over 700 murals created in the past 2 decades;
- CAMP’s annual Block Party that has been organized without corporate sponsorship and features live music, street performance, film and video projections, children’s activities since 1998;
- The Labor Temple Project in the Red Stone Building at 16th and Capp streets that includes a series of labor-inspired murals by Aaron Noble, Rigo 97, Susan Greene, Sebastiana Pastor, Isis Rodriguez, Chuck Sperry, Barry McGee, Carolyn Castaño, Ruby Neri, John Fadeff, Scott Williams, and Matt Day;
- The International exchange project, Sama-sama/Together through which six artists from SF (Aaron Noble, Andrew Schoultz, Alicia McCarthy, Carolyn Castaño, Carolyn Ryder Cooley, and Megan Wilson) completed a 6-week residency in Yogykarta, Indonesia and 4 artists from Yogykarta (Arie Dyanto, Arya Panjalu, Nano Warsono, and Samuel Indratma) completed an 8-week residency in SF painting murals, installing exhibitions, and participating in public dialogues;
- CAMP’s support of over 500 artists;
- CAMP receives over 200,000 visitors annually;
- CAMP’s ongoing collaborations with our many neighbors and community partners; and
- CAMP’s active work in support of social, economic, and environmental justice.
The Artists CAMP Has Worked With Over The Years:
The impressive list of artists CAMP has worked with includes:
Brad K. Alder; Rene Amini; Anti Eviction Mapping Project; APEX; AQUA; Tim Armstrong; Anthony G; ATOM; Tauba Auerbach; Jose Guerra Awe; Bahama Kangaroo; David Benzler; Amy Berk; BFK; BIGFOOT; BLIS; James Bode; Mark Bode; Chaos 938; Chor Boogie; Vichian Boonmeemak; Emily Butterfly; Chuy Jesús Campusano; Carolyn Castaño; Cecil; CK1; Codit, Scott Cowgill; Ryder Cooley; Andy Cox; George Crampton; DAGON; Diana Cristales-David; Shaghayegh Cyrous; Ethan Allen Davis; BEMS; Bryan Dawson & Rogelio Martinez & Sayaka Tagawa; Diamond Dave; Matt Day; Eric Derail; DESIE; DNO; Daniel Doherty; Emory Douglas; Christianne Dugan, DX; Arie Dyanto; Ezra Eismont; Emily (Butterfly); EON 75; ESA; ESPO; ESTRIA; EURO; Yuka Ezoe; John Fadeff; Farhansiki; Julio Flores and Luis Lule; Pablo Fonseca de Pinho; FREE; Friends’ School; Amilca Fuentes/American Indian Movement Youth Council; Shaghayegh Cyrous; C. Gazaleh; J Garcia; GIANT; Corrina Goldblatt; Danny Gotimer; Chris Granillo; Susan Greene; Ruben Guzman; QR Hand (poem); Chad Hasegawa; Maya Hayuk; Heart 101; Cliff Hengst; Ron Hennegler; Crystal Hermman; Max Hermann; Marisa Hernandez; Scott Hewicker; Horizons Unlimited (class taught by Carolyn Castaño and Amy Berk); Horea; Mia Houlberg; Scott Hove; Kenneth Huerta; Victor Hugo; Samuel Indratama; IVY; Roisin Isner; Marisa Jahn; Xylor Jane; Mario Joel; Chris Johansen; K2; Jamila Keba; Saroun Khan; Keith Knight; Mari Kono; LANGO; Locust; Vatos Revere Life; Michael Loggins and Jamie Morgan; LUCHA; LUNO; Chris Lux; MACE; Scott MacLeod; Carlos Madriz; Mark Martin; Jet Martinez; Alicia McCarthy; Barry McGee (TWIST); Jessica Miller; Julie Murray; Natel; Victor Navarette; Ruby Neri (Reminisce); Aaron Noble; Sirron Norris; Ivan Nunez; Oasis For Girls (Sierra Bloomer, Micaiah Caplong, Su Mei Mai, Sunum Mobin, Nancy Salcedo, Amber Sanchez, Jennifer Tse, Lily Zhen); OKAE; Naoki Onodera; Onomy; OOPS; Kelly Ording; Arya Panjalu; PastTime; Sebastiana Pastor/La Casa de las Madres; Ray Patlan; Michaela Pavlatova; Hilary Pecis; PEZ; Ray Patlán/Eduardo Pineda (Fresco); Jesús Angel Perez; Pablo de Pinho; Poor Magazine; Precita Eyes Mural Arts Center/Susan Cervantes; Texta Queen; RMA; Kyle Ranson; Mike Reger; Bunnie Reiss; Renos; Martin Revolo; Doug Rhodes; Rigo 23; Clarence Robbs (CUBA); Isis Rodriguez; Cynthia Rojas; Antonio Roman-Alcala; Al Rose (poem); Jeff Roydson; Erin Amelia Ruch; Ron Salmeron; San Francisco Art Institute (class taught by Kristin Calabrese); San Francisco Art Institute (class taught by Megan Wilson and Aaron Noble; students: Georgina Barney, Helen Bayly, Alex Braubach, Suzie Buchholz, Tom Farthing, Mei-Tsung Lee, Alice McGinn, America Meredith, Seija Metsola, Brooke Ripley, Ryan Rivadeneyra, Erin Ruch, and Rebecca Young); San Francisco Print Collective; Andrew J. Schoultz; Mary Scott; Daniel Segoria; Stev Sechovec; SESI; Steve Shada; Christine Shields; Aminah Slor; Greta Snider; SnoMonkey; Spenser; SPIE; Christopher Statton; Mats Stromberg; Shilo Suleman; Alfonso Texidor; Gabriel Thormann; Them Hellas; Sara Thustra; Brian and Jasper Tripp; TWICK; UFO; Smael Vagner; Lucena Valle; Vatos Mexicanos Locos; Josh Wallace; WARNED; Nano Warsono; Mel C. Waters; Scott Williams; Bradley Wilson; Megan Wilson; Tanya Wischerath; Lena Wolff; Nina Wrights; Zore & Hyde; Daisy Zamora (poem), and Zulah … and more.
CAMP’s Community Support
In addition to our mural work, CAMP has been very active in the community through participation in public presentations about public art and its role in social activism, including panels and presentations at Intersection for the Arts, the Commonwealth Club, Southern Exposure, San Francisco Art Institute, UC Berkeley, Stanford University, USF, and at the Cemeti Art House in Yogyakarta Indonesia. CAMP organizers Aaron Noble and Megan Wilson participated in the Penny Stamps Distinguished Visitors Program at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor to present CAMP, work with students individually, and provide consultation on developing a mural program to a group of community members in Detroit. Noble and Wilson also taught a public art course at the San Francisco Art Institute through the Painting Department that used CAMP as the framework and studio for the class. CAMP organizers Aaron Noble, Rigo 23, and Permi Gill participated in the public planning process of the 1998 BART station renovation at 16th and Mission Streets. In 2010, CAMP was a featured presenter at the de Young Museum as part of the series Street Art San Francisco: Mission Muralismo. In 2012 CAMP members Antonio Roman-Alcala, Jean Yaste, Jet Martinez, and Megan Wilson presented the work of CAMP at an event organized and hosted by Shaping San Francisco.
As part of our 20th Anniversary in 2012 CAMP artists painted the lobby, bathrooms, and created a window installation at our community partner, the Roxie Theater. Additionally, the Roxie hosted an evening of shorts from CAMP over the previous 20 years, including early footage from the first year of CAMP, filmed by Fiona O’Connor, narrated by Rigo 23.
In addition to the direct community, CAMP draws over 200,000 visitors annually to the Alley to view our murals. CAMP also hosts an annual Block Party in October that has consistently brought over 1,000 people to the celebration, which features new murals, live and DJ music, film and video projections, and more.
Changes To The Neighborhood Over The Past Two Decades
Over the past twenty years, San Francisco’s Mission District has radically changed. Especially since the first dotcom boom in the late nineties, the neighborhood has seen its rents increase tenfold. The average rent for a 1-bedroom in 2016 is $3,733. Additionally, many longtime small businesses have been forced out by rising rents and the district has been hit by an epidemic of resident evictions.
Sadly CAMP has also been greatly impacted by the extreme gentrification of the Mission District since the late nineties. What started as neighborhood-based project committed to diversity and inclusion, is now a magnet for lots of folks hoping to profit off of the image that CAMP has created – from the developers and real estate agents who use CAMP as a selling point for the “cool, hip Mission experience,” to those who use the space for fashion shoots, to corporations hoping to include the “gritty urban street art” image to sell their products, to any number of paid tours by folks unrelated to CAMP, spreading misinformation about the project, artists, and murals.
CAMP itself was evicted from our warehouse at 47 Clarion in 2000 to make way for new condo lofts. In addition to its long history as a space for artists, including Terry Riley, Steven Arnold, and the Cockettes, 47 Clarion was the original office and studio for CAMP. We were then evicted from our garage on the alley in 2005.
Many of the artists who once lived in the neighborhood have also been displaced due to the outrageous and unaffordable hikes in rents to the area and the eviction epidemic. It’s been truly heartbreaking to watch so many people who have spent years working hard and investing in the community be forced to leave because, while they have plenty of creativity, energy, and love for the neighborhood, they don’t have enough money to keep their homes, small businesses, and community-based organizations.
Moving forward, CAMP will continue to be a force for those who are marginalized and a place where culture and dignity speak louder than the rules of private property or a lifestyle that puts profit before compassion, respect, and social/economic/environmental justice.