On a Saturday afternoon mural tour with Patricia Rose, you’re likely to encounter a gaggle of kids running after her calling out, “Teacher!” and eagerly asking if she remembers them from art class.
And as you round the corner of one of the Mission’s streets, you’ll probably also bump into one of Patricia’s neighbors whose kids she — and the rest of the neighborhood — helped to raise.
“I can’t even conduct a mural tour anymore without seeing somebody,” Patricia said. “And it’s not just seeing somebody — these are warm encounters.
“We’re a neighborhood of neighbors … There’s a deeper feeling than just, ‘Oh, I see your face at the bus stop every day.’”
Patricia said she welcomes these interruptions during the tours she gives of the neighborhood’s public art, often inviting the chance encounter to give their opinion on the piece she’s describing.
“I’ll let them do that,” she said. “Step on in and share with this group of people what this mural means to you — I love that.
“You can’t write that into a job proposal. It’s very organic, it comes naturally, but it’s a big part of the draw of working here.”
Patricia works as the mural tour coordinator for Precita Eyes — though she said her main title, and the one she’s most proud of, is Precita Eyes Muralist. The nonprofit organizes mural projects in the Mission, offers low-cost art classes and gives tours of the neighborhood’s public art — a three-pronged approach to making art accessible to a broader community.
“A lot of art is a little bit on the elitist side,” Patricia said, “You have to go to a museum during museum hours and pay an admission fee to get in — and that’s automatically cutting off a chunk of the population … But if it’s out in the street 24/7, then it’s there for everybody.”
Not only are murals a viable way for working class communities to access art, Patricia said contributing to the mural projects — from planning and designing to painting — allows folks in the Mission to speak out and express their opinions in a way that isn’t always possible.
“Especially if it’s an immigrant community, these are often people who don’t want to speak out, don’t want to make waves, don’t want to draw attention,” she said. “But through this art form they can express themselves, and there’s no repercussions … that alone is very empowering.”
She said a lot of the recent work that’s gone up in the neighborhood has centered around housing, displacement and immigration.
During the week, Precita Eyes does several private tours — particularly for school field trips — and on the weekend they open up the tours to the public. The organization started out giving tours once a month, but they became so popular that they’ve expanded to four tours each weekend.
Each tour goes in a different direction (east, west, north and south from 24th st.), so they cover almost all of the Mission.
“I feel very passionately about what we do here,” Patricia said. “It’s my community that’s the star — I just get to dance around and show it to people.”
Precita Eyes Mural Tours does public tours every Saturday and Sunday at 11am and 1:30pm. Tours start at $15/person, or $12/per San Francisco resident. For help booking a tour, ask your Scout or text “mural tours” to 415-915-2421.