Ghost Ship fire: Evocative street mural of young couple comforts family, friends

By Tracy Seipel
San Jose Mercury News


SAN FRANCISCO — As they stumble through their days, often lost in a fog of sadness, family members and close friends of a young couple who died in each other’s arms inside the Ghost Ship warehouse fire have found comfort in a narrow alley in the city’s Mission District.

There, in a powerful new mural that honors their memory, the looming faces of Michela Gregory and Alex Vega are hard to miss — upstaging even the late singer Prince, whose iconic, though smaller, profile resides toward the opposite end of this city’s famed Clarion Alley.

The colorful byway between Mission and Valencia streets and 17th and 18th streets, notable for its social conscience art and murals painted over the years by members of the Clarion Alley Mural Project, is not a somber place.

“It’s a happier place, where people can walk and pay their respects,’’ said David Gregory, whose daughter and her longtime boyfriend were among the 36 victims who perished in the Dec. 2 blaze during an Oakland warehouse party.

“Not just us, but friends and people from all over the world will see this. And, hopefully, they will learn about what happened, and why,’’ said Gregory, who has visited the work-in-progress along with his wife, Kim. “It does not bring any closure, but it helps.’’

The 48-year-old SamTrans mechanic, who spent his teens growing up in the city — at one point employed by the thrift store across from the alley — had always admired the neighborhood’s progressive street art. More recently, whenever he’d taken tours with photography groups around the city, the South San Francisco resident would often point his camera toward artist Mel Waters’ memorable works. …Read Full Story