Open-air artist Anthony Holdsworth has lived near 24th Street – the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District for years, but only recently decided to turn his eye to the vibrant community.
He got the idea after attending the memorial for his friend and neighbor, underground cartoonist Spain Rodriguez. Rodriguez, a founder of Zap Comix, was known for his fantastical and out-of-this-world creations. Holdworth admired how Rodriguez was able to bring his work to life using the Mission as his backdrop.
The neighborhood proved to the perfect spot for Holdsworth. Every day for a year, he would pack his bicycle trailer with art supplies and cruise along 24th Street to paint on location. He loves painting on site because it allows him to interact with the community and capture the essence of the location. Something he couldn’t do by painting from a photograph.
While working on his Mission District series, he noticed the neighborhood starting to change. Neighborhood institutions like the Dominguez Mexican Bakery went out of business and long-time community members like Rene Yanez were receiving Ellis Act eviction notices so techies can move in. After witnessing this, Holdworth’s art took new meaning. His new goal was to “capture the Latin flavor of the Mission before it’s gone,” Holdworth said. In April, Holdsworth displayed his Mission District series at Alley Cat Books on 24th Street.
Local businesses and community members have been rallying to protect the cultural heritage of the Mission since the mid 90’s. Thanks to their efforts, San Francisco recently designated 24th Street as the city’s Latino Cultural District. This new designation gives the Mission District some extra clout in deciding what new businesses and housing developments can come into the neighborhood.