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Author Archives:

Juana Alicia

True Colors Mural Project at Inkworks Press

Bryant Valentino Salvador Rodriguez's Detail of Mural Design

Visions of Peace and Justice prf

Inkworks Mural in Progress May 14, 2010


Allison Connor's Detail of Mural Design

Inkworks Color Sketch, True Colors Mural Project ©2010
Support Youth Arts:
THE INKWORKS MURALDonate Today to Support the Youth Arts Program and Make the Mural a Reality

See below for information on tax deductible donations to this exciting project.

After months of brainstorming, rough drafts, long discussions and many revisions, the True Colors mural arts program at Berkeley City College has finalized an amazing piece of art that is set to be painted on the facade of the Inkworks’ building in early 2010. True Colors is a project of renowned muralist Juana Alicia and will be partnering with the Streets Alive project of the Earth Island Institute to complete this epic and inspiring mural.

Featured here are final sketches competed by the students that detail various sections of the mural design. We are also using this opportunity to ask for your valued participation in making this all happen through a generous donation. The vast majority of the work that it will take to realize the vision the students of True Colors have for this important piece of public art will be on donated time. However there are certain costs that are unavoidable, such as paint and scaffolding, and that is where your support comes in!

Inkworks’ role as a long term sustainer of activism and organizing makes it a perfect match for True Colors use of mural making to educate students in critical social and environmental issues that face our local and global communities. Juana Alicia has facilitated a semester long process with the students of brainstorming, sketching and consulting with Inkworks in order to develop a beautiful final design for the mural. It will stretch across the entire front facade of the Inkworks building facing 7th street and encompass many of the important movements and campaigns that have organized in the Bay Area and beyond during the past 35 years. This colorful piece of public art is a contribution to the street life and character of the West Berkeley neighborhood that Inkworks calls home. It will be a historic piece of art, an educational tool and an additional landmark in the spirit of Berkeley’s uniqueness.

May 28th is our scheduled finish date so mark your calendars for an inaugural celebration! For previous coverage of the mural project please click here.

Painting is set to begin in early 2010 so this is a perfect time to help make this vision a reality. All donations are tax deductible and will be directly used to ensure that this vibrant and valuable community endeavor is completed.

Follow the link below to make a secure online donation:

IMPORTANT please paste the following line into the Comments and Questions section of the online donation form:

Donation for Streets Alive/True Colors Mural Arts Program on Behalf of Inkworks Press

The black and white sketches of the mural were created by Kwesi Acquaa, Joel S. Beaird, Sabrina Collins, Allison Connor, Diego Mendoza Cordero, Nube Cruz, Olivia Levins Holden, George Lippman, Amalia Gaspar, Maya Montoya, Ajene Moss, Amy Ortiz, Smokie, Heather Reaney, Valentino Rodriguez, Vanessa Verdin. Directed by Juana Alicia  © 2009 World Rights Reserved.


Benefit Party for Inkworks Mural at Casa Latina

Mural Celebration and Fundraiser

3 04 2010


Hosts:  Juana Alicia   Ariana Katovich and Jose Ruiz

Location: Casa Latina

1801 San Pablo Ave


Saturday, April 10, 7:00 PM

Phone: 510.859.9154

THE TRUE COLORS MURAL PROJECT, led by Juana Alicia Montoya,

will be painting its newest mural on the Inkworks Press Building in West Berkeley.

The mural, pictured in this invitation, is an amazing and colorful celebration of social justice movements.

Casa Latina will be hosting us in an empty storefront they just acquired for expansion of their panaderia. Jose Ruiz, owner and DJ, will be hosting the party, spinning great music, and allowing The True Colors Mural project to sell art, host a silent auction and offer other goodies to benefit the mural project.

Please RSVP to us by contacting Ariana at 510.859.9154

or email to

Sliding scale entry!! $15-25 at the door.

Juana Alicia participates in Arte Nuevo InteractivA ’07

Arte Nuevo InteractivA’07, the fourth edition of a biennale international curatorial project of new art, new media, electronic art and Experimental Interdisciplinary Laboratory will take place from June 14 to July 15, 2007 in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. The art exhibit is presented in conjunction with conferences, workshops, presentations, live media events, video screenings and performance with artists, curators, art historians and critics from Australia, Italy, Spain, Uruguay, Argentina, Cuba, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago, Puerto Rico, Peru, Slovenia, Mexico, England, El Salvador, Guatemala, Palestine, Dominican Republic, Colombia, United States, Canada, Chile, Iran, Germany, Lebanon and India.

Arte Nuevo InteractivA’07 ( is organized by Laboratorio Cartodogital and the office of Visual Arts of the Institute of Culture of Yucatan, Mexico. The biennale will be showcased at the galleries of Theater Peon Contreras, Centro Cultural UADY and Manolo Rivero Gallery. The Experimental Interdisciplinary Lab will take place from June 15 to June 30, 2007 at the mentioned locations, as well as in Centro Cultural de Merida Olimpo, UADY (Autonomous University of Yucatan), ESAY (Superior School of the Arts of Yucatan), UTM (Metropolitan Technological University), Teatro Merida and Centro de las Artes Santa Ana.

The Project is also sponsored by Prince Claus Foundation, SEACEX (Sociedad Estatal para la Accion Cultural Exterior de Espana), The Cultural Office of the City of Merida-Yucatan, the Cultural Office of the Spanish Embassy in Mexico, Canadian Arts Council, Robert Morris University, The British Art Council and Crossroads Schools of Santa Monica, California.

The project will present artworks in conjunction with a laboratory with artists, curators, scholars and critics from all corners of the world. Participating artists are: Santiago Ortiz, Belén Gache, Karla Solano, Polibio Díaz, GUESTROOM, Mr. Tamale, Patricia Martín, José Luis García Nava, Hackictectura, Juan Pablo Ballester, Alex Donis, Lucas Bambozzi, Michelle Blakeney, Juan José Díaz Infante, Colectivo de Cine Balata, Sara Malinarich, RicardoDomínguez, Coco Fusco, Luciano Ferrer, Christina McPhee, Miha Ciglar, Fernando Montiel Klint, Jaishri Abichandani, Jacqueline Lacasa, Christopher Coizer, Carolina Loyola-García, Juana Alicia, Tim Plaisted and Humberto Suaste among others

According to executive curator Raúl Moarquech Ferrera-Balanquet: “Through the process of selecting themes, artists, projects, artworks and curators, the biennale interconnects these elements in a fluid variable geometry that articulates the dynamics of economic production of art in many regions of the world, the discursive formation of artistic practices, the constant erasure of these artists enacted by art history and the difficulties of curatorial practices outside the museum and government institutions. The grammar evolving as result of the curatorial process has its own discursive flow. The end results of the biennale, the conferences and the lab are the transformations of the initial intentions. As in a work of art, the moment when the physical interaction takes place denotes new positions even among the artists, scholars and critics involved in the project.

Executive Curator: Raúl Moaquech Ferrera-Balanquet (Cuba/USA/Mexico) Guest Curators: Gita Hashemi (Iran/Canada), Jenny Fraser (Australia), Lucrezia Cipitelli (Italy), Jorge Alban (Costa Rica), Laura Gonzalez Flores (México), Arlan Londoño (Colombia/Canada), Miguel Rojas Zotelo (Colombia), Laura Baigorri (Spain), Lila Pagola (Argentina) Creative Director: Jose Luis Garcia Perez Museographers: Gerardo Espejo, Raul Moarquech Ferrera-Balanquet and Jose Luis Rodriguez de Armas,

Muros sin Fronteras – Viernes 1 de junio

La Escuela Superior de Artes de Yucatan
a traves de Artes Visuales presenta:

“Muros sin Fronteras: la obra de Juana Alicia”

Viernes 1 de junio, 8:00pm
Museo de la Cancion
(Calle 57 x 48, Centro)

Entrada Libre

La Llorona project, San Francisco

Juana Alicia finished her new mural titled “La Llorona’s Sacred Waters” in June of 2004 at the corners of York and 24th Streets. With fiscal sponsorship by The San Francisco Women’s Center and the Galeria de la Raza, the support of Las Trenzas Latina Student and Alumnae Organization of UC Berkeley, and funding from The Potrero Nuevo Fund, The San Francisco Mayor’s Neighborhood Beautification Fund, the Greppi and Leone family and private donors, the artist was able to complete this project on women, water and globalization, located in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District.
Read more about this project and see the photos

Juana Alicia in Yucatan

Juana Alicia reside actualmente en Mérida, Yucatán, México, y residirá en esa bella ciudad durante este año escolar. La Fundación Fulbright Garcia-Robles le ha ortorgado una beca para enseñar en la universidad pública de artes multidisciplinarias: ESAY (Escuela Superior de Arte de Yucatán). En colaboración con sus estudiantes, la muralista creará una obra monumental para la universidad en su nuevo sede en la antigua estación del ferrocarril en el centro de Mérida.

Juana Alicia is teaching workshops in Chicana/o Mural History, Design and Technique, which will culminate in a mural at the university’s new location, in the neo-Mayan art deco train station, an architectural jewel in downtown Mérida. ESAY is a multidisciplinary arts university, featuring visual arts, music, theater, dance and film/multimedia. It is a rich and vibrant environment, and the artist is honored to be participating in this dynamic project at the virtual crossroads of culture in Southeastern Mexico.

Juana Alicia se encuentra dando cursos en la historia, el diseño y la técnica del mural Chicana/o con el fin de ejecutar un mural para la universidad en su nueva sede dentro de la estación del tren, una joya arquitectónico arte deco en el centro de Mérida. ESAY es una universidad de artes multidisciplinarias que ofrece licenciaturas en artes visuales, música y danza. Juana Alicia quisiera agradecer a la Fundación Fulbright Garcia-Robles, a COMEXUS y a su institución anfitriona por esta oportunidad de participar en un intercambio cultural dinámico en un ambiente de una historia tan rica como la del sudeste de México.

Leer mas del proyecto / Read more about the project

A Woman’s Place


Bridging the gaps of language, culture and gender is a thrilling and difficult endeavor. The mural project that the United Electrical Workers Union proposed to me in 1998 was conceived as a way to connect communities of working people between Mexico and the United States. In this case, the content would focus on the current conditions, history and achievements of women in the labor movement. The labor of this work of art was to make visible the strength in our commonalties, and the richness of our differences as workers from two countries whose destinies have been deeply entwined. The mural, “A Woman’s Place…” also deals with these issues around the globe, but its particular focus is on the U.S. and Mexico.

As in nature, diversity in society is essential to the survival of the species. In order for us to create a just and peaceful world, which is also essential to our survival, workers in all countries need to practice citizen diplomacy, and come together to organize for the rights of all people. As an artist, I see my job as a midwife of visions. I work with communities to help unearth their highest values and their deepest problems, and give birth to an image that applies the wisdom of those values to the solution of their problems. I come from the Latin American artistic tradition of magical realism, among others, and my work as a painter is also in the role of community activist, organizer and teacher.

As with many other mural projects, I was not the only person creating the image for “A Woman’s Place…” The U.E. had planted the seeds for the mural in its various worker exchanges between union members in the U.S. and union members from the F.A.T. (Frente AutÈtico del Trabajo) union in Mexico. Delegations of men and women visited each other’s plants, factories, micro-industries and homes, often leaving their country of birth for the first time. Previous to the mural I was to paint in Erie, Pennsylvania, two other murals celebrating the friendship between these unions had been painted: the first mural by North American artist Mike Alewitz, in the national office of the F.A.T. in Mexico City, and the second one by Mexican muralist Daniel Manriequez at the U.E. local in Chicago. I proposed that the union sponsor a mural project specific to the history and role of women in the movement for international labor solidarity. The U.E. responded enthusiastically, identifying Local 506 in Erie as a strong candidate for the site. Many of the union’s membership employed at General Electric in Erie had traveled to Mexico, and had been active in building an international solidarity movement. Moreover, there were strong women in the union who had taken leadership with the men to build this cultural and political alliance.

I began to collect the individual stories of women’s lives through the use of a questionnaire, which the U.E. and the F.A.T. helped me to circulate in both countries. Among the questions were ” What was your first experience working outside the home, and what was your first struggle for your rights as a worker, “Why is the relationship between the U.E. and the F.A.T. important to you personally”, and “How do you want to participate in the mural project? By contributing photos, drawings, oral histories, writing, painting, cooking, doing publicity or fundraising?”

Women in both countries responded with more written and photographic material than I could include in the mural. I also received valuable photographic material from Lina Katz, Miriam Ching Louie and David Bacon. As part of my research, I traveled to LeÛn, Guanajuato, Mexico, to meet with workers and leadership in the F.A.T., notably with women strikers from Irapuato, a neighboring town. The stories about their ongoing strike against the packing plant Conjeladora del Rio (CRISA) are represented on one of the train cars. Union historians, organizers and archivists also sent me vital information, and I began to design the image. It was through the collaboration of many people that the picture came together.

The story that the mural tells is one of evolution, revolution and transformation. The central metaphor is the butterfly, whose metamorphosis symbolizes women’s coming of age in the labor movement. The growth and development of women’s power and leadership has required fierce, intelligent unity and persistence, particularly in the workplace. This metamorphosis has also happened within the family and our societies at large, as women have demanded full citizenship in every sphere of their lives. For this reason, the mural represents women’s lives inside of both the workplace and the family.

I have situated the “her” stories of women’s movements in labor struggles on the cars of two trains that meet at the symbolic border between our countries, the Rio Bravo (commonly known in the U.S. as the Rio Grande). These two locomotives, like those built at the GE plant in Erie, Pennsylvania, carry the history and destiny of the women into the future. The future takes the form of two young women, one from Erie, the other from Guanajuato, who each stand in front of a braking train, surrounded by dust clouds, insisting on the power of their own visions and goals. The young woman from Pennsylvania holds a soccer ball painted like a globe, with a map of the American hemisphere on its surface. The young Mexican woman holds a placard that reads, “We demand freedom for all workers”.

I have located the trains in their respective landscapes: the autumn hills of Pennsylvania and the arid, rolling earth of Guanajato, Mexico. The butterfly, seen as a transparent overlay at the center of the design, is also shown in all of the other stages of her life span, from chrysalis to cocoon to caterpillar. In the ancient and modern iconography of Mexico, the butterfly is synonymous with movement, and the symbol of the butterfly is expressed in many ways, from a simple “x” form to an elaborate drawing or print, called an “estampa”. The Nauhuatl (Aztec language) name for this pictograph is “ollin” and it is recognized as a sort of “yin yang” symbol of Mesoamerica: the movement that keeps the universe in balance. The two central figures, Linda Leech of the U.E., and Alicia Rosas, of the F.A.T., are sending their messages of peace and solidarity to each other, across the waters of the Rio Bravo. The words of Linda’s poetry and the doves Alicia is releasing, cross paths in the air at the center of the composition, creating a “zone of understanding” at the vortex of the image. The center is also where the histories converge and begin: at the opening of the twentieth century in both countries. Each car depicts women’s labor history during different decades, moving out from the center, from past to present. On the far left and far right-hand sides of the trains, we see present day international struggles against the global sweatshop.

Both men and women support the lives of women, actually and symbolically. The “truck” or base of the train is made up of the people that form the support structure for the changing times, and who carry the weight of history on their shoulders. They are everyday people, and pictured among them is the award winning journalist and current political prisoner, Mumia Abu Jamal. On the earth beneath the train, in the foreground of the mural, the imprint of history lives. Just left of the center of the mural is a tunnel, representative of the human transportation system that was the Underground Railroad. While living near Freeport we (the mural painting team) came to understand that Erie, Pennsylvania was one of the north-most sites of the Underground Railroad, where runaway slaves sometimes found shelter in tunnels beneath homes, or more often, hid in the dug-out shelters by the side of a ravine, waiting to be ferried across Lake Erie to safety and freedom in Canada. Thanks to the Erie Historical Society, and in particular to Karen James, I learned much about the Underground Railroad. One startling revelation was that more Black people sought refuge from slavery in Mexico than in the North or in Canada. This was another connection of the histories of working people on both sides of the border!

On the right side of the mural’s foreground, a modern day Zapatista-style graffiti artist sprays “Tod@s somos indi@s” (We are all Indians) on the earth. She paints a reminder that many of us, on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border, share an indigenous past, and that the places we currently inhabit are on Indian land. The landscape contains the scars and legacies of our migrations and struggles for autonomy, as workers, as women, and as people of all colors. We engrave our lives on the land, which bears testimony to our work in the health or disease of our environment. The intense beauty of Western Pennsylvania and Central Mexico is threatened by the uncontrolled contamination that is the result of industrial and maquiladora abuse of all living systems. On the left side of the mural, we see the GE plant in the background exhaling steam and smoke, and on the right side’s train car, a woman makes her way across the polluted Irapuato River on her way to the oppressive working conditions, under armed guard, at the Congeladora del Rio fruit packing plant.

The process of painting the mural was intense. We began the work on August 7, 2000. I was fortunate to have wonderful assistants: RosalÌa Mariz, who helped transfer my sketch to the wall, and three young women who assisted me for two high-pressure weeks. Tomashi and Rhea Vedro had been my excellent teaching assistants in Oakland, and Vaimoana L. Niumeitolu, a friend of Rhea’s, was a bonus surprise assistant to the project. During the cartooning (drawing the outline) and the painting, we worked fifteen-hour days, as a team of two to four women. Tomashi, like me, had traveled to Erie from San Francisco. Rhea and Vaimoana had ridden a Greyhound from New York City to join our effort. My daughter, Mayahuel, who was seven years old at the time, also assisted.

Our multiculti team of three Latinas, one Anglo woman, one Black woman and one Tongan woman made many friends in the union and in the Erie community, and people supported us by doing childcare, bringing meals, photographing the process, looking in on us at night, publicizing the project and planning the inaugural celebration, which took place during the U.E.’s national convention, during the last week of August. The mural appeared to be nearly complete at that time, and we were painting frantically behind the curtain five minutes before it was unveiled to conventioneers and community members. Union members from across the country and members of the local Latino community received the mural with great enthusiasm, with a wonderful party, complete with live music, eloquent words and great food. Nevertheless, I would continue to work on the painting for several weeks after that night. My assistants went home to their respective coasts, taking my daughter home too, and I remained to unify the styles in the painting and bring the work to completion.

Erie, Pennsylvania and Guanajuato, Mexico are a study in contrasts. As a U.S.-born Latina and former farmworker from California, these worlds were both familiar to me, and represented in many ways, the duality of my own cultural experience. The lifelong work of trying to make sense or poetry out of these contrasting realities fit perfectly with the nature of the project. How do we create understanding between these often-disconnected realities? How do we code switch in the language of organizing? It was through the worker exchanges between the women of the U.E. and the F.A.T. unions of the U.S. and Mexico that women from both sides of the border gained insight and compassion for the struggles and challenges of each other’s families and communities. I found that the people that had actually visited each other’s countries had the greatest insight into the strategy of international organizing and building solidarity across racial, cultural, gender and geographical borders. They are the citizen diplomats that can communicate to their compatriots, who can break down national stereotypes and media distortions. When we see that everyone loses when jobs move out of the U.S. and become slave labor in Mexico or other parts of the developing world. The workers from both sides who have met and experienced the other’s lives are forging an understanding that poor and working women all over the world need to unite in order to prevent the globalization of capital from devastating our human rights and environmental health.

These women have found a voice and an identity while resisting this devastation . They have gained a new respect for themselves, as well as from their families and co-workers. This has certainly come at a price, as reflected in the accounts of many of the women, who told stories of suffering beatings, ostracism, rape, sexual harassment, physical violence and legal persecution, at the hands of husbands, bosses, armed thugs, and the respective governments themselves. For these women, the work of labor organizing has been a difficult but rewarding path toward independence from many of those forms of violence. Many of these women also spoke eloquently of the transformation of the children and men in their lives, who were also positively affected by the women’s activism. In some cases, women found themselves isolated and abandoned, in others, men and families changed, inspired by the courageous and positive examples of women who risked much to struggle for the welfare of all. I was inspired by the beauty of these stories to create this mural and to make visible both the hardest battles and the most beautiful triumphs of these working women.

I thank the United Electrical and Machine Workers of America, in particular Local 506, for the opportunity to paint these stories.

View this work’s photo album


“Santuario/Sanctuary” at San Francisco International Airport

Santuario is a collaborative work between Juana Alicia and Emmanuel C. Montoya, located at the new international terminal of the San Francisco International Airport. The collaborative work, a two-story fresco framed by a suite of bas relief sculptures, will be open to the public for the first time on Sunday, December 3, 2000, when over 50,000 people are expected for the day-long festivities. Our piece, entitled œSanutario/Sanctuary”, is one in a total of seventeen works of public art that were commissioned for this beautiful new building that has been declared a museum. œSantuario” is located in Gateroom 97 of Terminal G, and spans the second and third floor walls of that gateroom.

Our mixed media work honors the significant role that the San Francisco International Airport plays in the lives of Bay area residents and travelers from around the world. The artwork combines a mural in the traditional “fresco buono” technique of the Italian renaissance with a bas relief sculptural “frame” of shore birds. We have created a monumental work that has a strong visual impact when seen from a distance, but is also a “slow read”, rich enough in detail and nuance so that the viewer can spend a long time in its presence, discovering new layers and meanings. The work represents our cultural tradition in the fresco mural, which spans a millennium, from its origins in Teotihuacan to the Mexican mural movement to the contemporary Chicano mural movement, in which we have participated actively.
About the Imagery

The concepts central to our design are the themes of: migration and permanence; movement and stillness; and intimacy within a public space. The airport is often the setting for some of the most dramatic moments and milestones in our lives. In our design we honor the wonderful and significant meetings and partings that happen in the airport, to bring to the foreground and freeze those moments in time, while creating a light-filled context of movement, flow of life and the energy of travel.

We are in some ways creating a mirror of the airport’s interior and exterior environments: human activity framed by the natural surroundings of San Bruno Mountain, Candlestick Park and the Bay. Bas relief shore birds encircle the entire scene, creating a frame of flight. The airport is in a geographic location that was once bay wetlands, a “migratory resting spot” for the multitudes of pelicans, avocets, cormorants, redwing blackbirds and egrets to name just a few. With their presence, we wish to remind people of the original inspiration for flight and to draw a parallel between the migrations of humanity and those of the natural world. We are honoring the movement in the universe: the motion and emotion associated with travel and with growth.

The architectural decoration on either sides of the windows echoes the “real” birds, and the circular form at the top of the space implies a sun, a planet or the circle of life itself.

It has often been said that flight is the dream of humanity: in the movement created from the small child being tossed into the air, to the feather-like flight of a paper airplane, the fantasy is fulfilled!

The large figures in the immediate foreground are also musing, in a dreamlike state: the young woman moves toward the viewer, absorbed in her thoughts, which are echoed in the figures behind her. The elderly gentleman moves into the scene, contemplating both past and future. We seek to represent not only the diversity of the international communities that visit San Francisco, but also our own citizenry, rich in its own diversity, a hybrid of cultures that form the new, transforming nature of culture on the Pacific Rim.

The mother and son meeting in traditional greeting on the far left are from Cambodia, but also reflect the influence of western culture in the little boy’s attire. Directly behind them is a family with roots in Michoacan, Mexico, joyfully reuniting. In the background, Euro-Americans, Middle Eastern Americans and African Americans hurry to their destinations. A Guatemalan refugee carries traditional and modern bundles, while a racially-mixed couple embraces near the windows. Both the “native-born” and international visitor interact, embrace and greet each other, essentially indistinguishable in a milieu of mutual respect and great diversity.
About the Process

Our work is a collaborative effort between the two of us; we arrived at the concept and the composition together, working on and critiquing each other’s ideas and drawings, so that the final drawing was a blending of each other’s styles and approaches. True to the nature of the past seventeen years of our association, we assisted, critiqued and learned from each other in the process of creating the full-scale work. However, in the actual execution of the project, Juana Alicia executed the fresco painting, Emmanuel the bas relief sculpture.
Emmanuel Montoya: Bas Relief Elements

I executed these images of shorebirds as Bas Relief wood sculpture. Bas Relief (low reliefs), are sculptured panels that have a very slight projection from their background. Alto Reliefs (high reliefs) have as much projection as a full free-standing sculpture shape, but are still considered reliefs because they attached to and often composed on a wall or a panel limitation. The idea is create within a materially-limited area the illusion of a full-bodied shape.

used kiln-dried Basswood to create these pieces; it is a light-colored soft wood, easy to carve. This sculpture will require little maintenance, dry dusting every one to two years.
Juana Alicia: Fresco Painting

The painted mural was done in the renaissance tradition of fresco buono or true fresco. I worked an experienced plasterer, Diana Durand, in preparing the wall, and did the actual painting myself. I also had an excellent assistant, Tim Hern›ndez, who ground pigments as well as creating and perforating tracings of my original drawings in order to transfer them to the wall.

I did my masters thesis in fresco painting at the San Francisco Art Institute in 1990, and Stephen P. Dimitroff and Lucienne Bloch were my teachers and supervisors on the thesis. It was our understanding at the time that if they were to invest so much time in training me, that I would commit myself to continue the tradition of fresco painting in the future. Although I created many small fresco panels, and many monumental murals in other media, this would be my first large public commission in this medium, and the second fresco on this scale created in San Francisco since the 1930’s. Lucienne Bloch and Stephen Dimitroff painted a beautiful 10′ x 40′ fresco at Saint Mary the Virgin Episcopal Church in 1965, which was re-dedicated in 1995. I seek to continue the tradition of this wonderful technique, examples of which have endured worldwide over many centuries. Fresco pigments are light-fast, as each molecule of pigment is encased in a crystal of lime as the plaster dries.

There are many examples of such works that are exposed to strong and direct sunlight on a daily basis, such as the cycles of murals at La Secretaria de Educaci§n Pèblica (The Secretariat of Public Education) and at the Palacio Nacional (The National Palace), both in central Mexico City. These are both located in the Z§calo section of the capital, and are exposed to perhaps the highest imaginable levels of pollution, but are in excellent, brilliant condition, sixty to seventy-five years since their creation.

Both the sculptural and the painted surfaces of our work will be relatively free from maintenance, requiring dusting or cleaning every five to ten years. The fresco can be cleaned with a light sponging when required. Ann Rosenthal, Conserator for Coit Tower and the Beach Chalet murals, says, “For a painting, if the artist’s technique is sound, there’s no more durable medium than fresco. It has to be all mineral, and is not subject to the same fading as other organic materials are. Fresco doesn’t require cleaning more than absolutely necessary- it would need inspection and dusting every one or two years, but needs to age and probably within our lifetime would not need a wet cleaning. If the mechanical systems within the airport provide for filtered air on a regular basis, it would not need a wet cleaning for fifty years.”

For these reasons, as well as a love for the luminosity and beauty of the medium, I have chosen fresco.

*Stephen and his wife, Lucienne Bloch were assistants to Diego Rivera in his murals created at the Detroit Art Institute, Rockefeller Center and the San Francisco Art Institute. Stephen is a master plasterer in fresco, and Lucienne an accomplished and recognized fresco painter in her own right. They have restored Rivera’s murals at both the Detroit Art Institute and the San Francisco Art Institute.

View this work’s photos

UCSF Medical Walls Mural – Completed

SANARTE: DIVERSITY’S PATHWAY, mural environment at UCSF Medical Center,
400 Parnassus Avenue. Ceramic tile murals and embedded sidewalk by
Juana Alicia ©2005 World Rights Reserved. An original work, owned and
commissioned by the University of California, San Francisco.
Photography: Anobel Odisho ©2005 World Rights Reserved

Encantada Gallery Show Extended


Juana Alicia
Pinturas * Paintings
June 30th to July 31st – Extended til August 5!

Gallery hours:
Tues – Sun, 12 – 6 pm
Fri – Sat, 12 to 8 pm

Public parking 21st @Bartlett Street and Valencia @20th Street
For more information/Para mayor información:
Contact Juana Alicia or

Images: “Broken Promise…”raku fired ceramic sculpture, 16” tall, Phoebe Ackley ©2005
“Milagro: Mano y Corazon”, handmade ceramic tile, 1’ x1’, Juana Alicia ©2005

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