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The Mission District, San Francisco, August 31, 2011

Mission District - San Francisco
85 Bartlett Street

Right next to a bright and colorful mural by Jet Martinez, is this fascinating mural.  It is a partial reproduction of an original found behind the altar of Old Mission Dolores.  The original was believed to be painted by Mission Indians somewhere between 1791 and 1796.

Here is all the information in the Jet Martinez's own words:

"When Ben [Ben Wood, the freelance artist who, along with archaeologist Eric Blind, photographed the mural by lowering a camera behind the 18th-century altarpiece blocking it from view] approached me, I didn’t want to do it. I grew up in Mexico. I saw a lot of murals of priests saving the souls of kneeling Indians. And this mural is really about the Catholic missionaries’ oppression of the natives. They painted those hearts — the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Sacred Heart of Mary — because that’s what the missionaries told them to do.

But my New Year’s Eve resolution was to be more open. Ben wanted me to restore the mural to what it would have been, but I didn’t want to. Huge sections were missing. To imagine what the mural would have been [would be] to put my own interpretation in it. I left the gaps.

Working with two other painters [Bunnie Reiss and Ezra Eismont] helped me remove myself a little. People would ask me, “Why are there no Native Americans working on this mural?” Because we had one Mexican-American guy, one German guy and one Jewish woman.

I thought, Native Americans were already forced to paint this once. We’re not going to make them paint it again."

I apologize for the angle on this, but the sidewalk is narrow, and lined with cars.


  1. That was really interesting and touching how Jet Martinez dealt with the restoration.

  2. Such a moving story of an artist dealing with the historical context of this mural. It is beautiful...I'm glad he left the gaps.

  3. Cool! Like the history of the piece!

  4. Thank you for including the history, which makes this art all the more meaningful.

  5. Beauutiful mural -- It's always tough to restore another's work. I really enjoyed his thoughts on the subject.

  6. Thanks for the post! I'd like to clarify that in fact I am not German at all, not sure where Jet got that one from. Scotch/Irish Russian and Italian...but no german. Also to clarify, Bunnie Reiss was contacted initially by Megan Wilson to paint this mural, after which Jet Martinez and Myself were added to the project. All in all it was a very interesting and fun project to be involved with. Thanks for the post!
    Regards, Ezra Li Eismont


I apologize for the change in my comments form, but I was being spammed by Anonymous. Thank you for all your kind words.

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