News Briefs: SF groups to dedicate upper Market mural

  • by Cynthia Laird, News Editor
  • Wednesday April 24, 2024
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"The Chant of the Earth, the Voice of the Land" mural by artist Betsie Miller-Kusz on upper Market Street will be formally dedicated at a May 3 ceremony. Photo: Rick Gerharter
"The Chant of the Earth, the Voice of the Land" mural by artist Betsie Miller-Kusz on upper Market Street will be formally dedicated at a May 3 ceremony. Photo: Rick Gerharter

Several San Francisco organizations will join together and formally dedicate the restoration of an iconic mural on upper Market Street during the monthly Castro Art Walk Friday, May 3, from 5 to 8 p.m.

Artist Betsie Miller-Kusz originally painted "The Chant of the Earth, the Voice of the Land" mural in 1981.

The Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association was involved in the restoration, and officials from the organization will join those from the San Francisco Arts Commission, the Castro Community Benefit District, and San Francisco Public Works at the dedication. Castro Art Walk representatives will attend, along with elected officials, according to an EVNA news release.

The mural, located on 19th Street between Market Street and Caselli Avenue, is viewed by thousands of commuters and pedestrians each day, the release noted. It has been restored three times by Miller-Kusz. During the recent restoration that occurred last year, the artist worked with a team of assistants and volunteers. The project was made possible with a $25,000 grant from the arts commission, as well as fundraising that was spearheaded by EVNA.

The dedication takes place shortly after Earth Day. The release noted that though the mural was not intended as a political statement when it was created, the climate crisis has made it so today. The mural features an abstract, brilliantly colored depiction of landforms behind the retaining wall. The multicolored forms sweep along at the street level, portraying flows and fissures, uplifts, and earth forces, a gentle counterpoint to the hard lines of the downtown skyline visible from the site.

The mural is coated with a varnish intended to last many years. (During the restoration process, the mural was tagged, as the Bay Area Reporter noted in a news brief on the restoration.)

The site is at almost the exact geographic center of San Francisco, according to the release.

Miller-Kusz stated, "Every brushstroke on this mural is an imprint of my gratitude to the EVNA core mural team; to the restoration assistants; to my friends, family, and community of contributors; and to the great city of San Francisco, which made this huge project possible."

Andrea Aiello, a lesbian who is executive director of the CBD, stated the mural is impossible to ignore.

"Imagine you're a local, coming home after being away, or a tourist coming to the Castro for the first time, winding down the curves of Twin Peaks," she stated. "You turn the corner and unexpectedly meet this colorful hillside mural, welcoming you into the heart of the city."

Alex Lemberg, who is nonbinary and the recent past president of EVNA, stated that they encouraged the neighborhood group's involvement in the restoration last year.

"I had no idea we'd be planning around atmospheric rivers and sweating through heat waves," Lemberg stated, referring to last year's wild weather. "For me, personally, climbing scaffolding took its toll. I'm so proud of what my dedicated colleagues have overcome and can't wait to celebrate this triumph with everyone."

The upcoming dedication is open to the public. Note that there is no power, running water, or restrooms at the site. A program will take place at 6 p.m. that will feature speakers, music, and performers. Neighbors are encouraged to bring snacks to share. The Muni bus 33 stops nearby at 18th and Market streets, as does the Muni bus 37 at Corbett Avenue and Danvers Street. It is a 0.6-mile uphill walk from the Castro Muni Station at Castro and Market streets.

Donations are still being accepted and can be made here.

SF Eagle marks 11 years under current ownership

The SF Eagle bar will celebrate its 11th anniversary under its current ownership Sunday, April 28, from noon to 6 p.m. in Eagle Plaza, located adjacent to the bar at 398 12th Street in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood.

As many B.A.R readers know, the Eagle first opened at its SOMA location in 1981. It closed in 2011. Lex Montiel and his late business partner, Mike Leon, who died in 2019, bought the business in 2012. They reopened in March 2013, reviving the Eagle's enormously popular Sunday beer busts held on its spacious outdoor patio, as the B.A.R. previously reported. The bar was then shuttered temporarily during the COVID pandemic.

In October 2021, during LGBTQ History Month, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors granted the SF Eagle city landmark status. It's the second leather bar in the U.S. of the same name to become a local landmark, as the B.A.R. reported at the time. (The other is the Eagle bar in Atlanta.)

In a news release announcing the anniversary party, Montiel stated the bar has become a vibrant community space.

"The event is not just about celebrating our milestone but also about embracing our community's values of inclusion, accessibility, and lifting each other up," he stated.

Indeed, as the B.A.R. recently reported, SF Eagle held a fundraiser for the Cat Club, a nightlife space that had been burglarized.

One of the highlights of the anniversary party will be SF Eagle's collaboration with Big Ass Amazingly Awesome Homosexual Sheep, or BAAAHS, promising an experience that exudes the bar's commitment to inclusivity and diverse expression, the release noted.

Christian Williams and Giovanni Matiz, organizers of BAAAHS, stated they are excited to help celebrate SF Eagle's anniversary.

"BAAAHS is a community-driven organization dedicated to bringing joy through music, art, and participation — with a little silliness on the side," they stated.

For more information, go to

SFAF to hold city budget teach-in

With San Francisco experiencing a difficult budget year, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and its HIV Advocacy Network will hold a teach-in on the city's process Monday, May 6, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Strut, the foundation's community health center at 470 Castro Street in the LGBTQ neighborhood.

HAN is a grassroots group of HIV and LGBTQ activists in the Bay Area fighting to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

As the B.A.R. has reported, the need for HIV funding comes as the city stares down a budget deficit that could be as large as $1 billion — and some programs have already seen huge cuts and don't have funding stability.

The city's two-year budget process for fiscal years 2024-25 and 2025-26 is now underway. SFAF's Laura Thomas and Lance Toma, CEO of the San Francisco Community Health Center, are the co-chairs of the HIV/AIDS Provider Network, a group of city HIV/AIDS nonprofits that advocate city officials for funding. They previously told the B.A.R. that just keeping funding at current levels will be difficult considering the budget crunch.

Last year's budget included $1.25 million for housing subsidies for people living with HIV for 2023-24 and $500,000 for 2024-25. The budget also included $500,000 to help HIV/AIDS nonprofits with rising costs, as the B.A.R. previously reported. The funding was far short of the $7 million requested by HIV advocates.

Last December, Mayor London Breed asked city departments for 10% cuts across the board. A deficit of about $800 million is expected over the next two fiscal years, and Breed has said it could reach $1 billion by Fiscal Year 2028.

It is in this climate that the AIDS foundation wants people to get involved. According to an email announcement for "Action=Life: Queering the San Francisco Budget," the teach-in will feature a range of speakers including policy experts, frontline workers, and community activists who will guide attendees through the budget process, dive deeper on issues such as housing and health care, and share advocacy strategies.

Organizers noted this is a critical opportunity for community members to get involved and advocate for queer and HIV justice.

There is no cost to attend and food will be provided. To register, click here.

Eurovision viewing party in SF

Parivar Bay Area and the LGBT Asylum Project are holding a Eurovision Song Contest grand final viewing party and fundraiser Saturday, May 11, beginning at 11 a.m. at the DNA Lounge, 375 11th Street in San Francisco.

The Eurovision Song Contest is held annually by the European Broadcasting Union. This year's event takes place in Malmö, Sweden.

Proceeds from the San Francisco event's ticket sales and a silent auction will benefit the Center for Immigration Protection, a new nonprofit that Parivar Bay Area and the LGBT Asylum Project launched last year, as the B.A.R. previously reported.

CIP strives to provide comprehensive and accessible support services, including legal assistance and social integration, while promoting awareness, education, and acceptance, according to an email announcement.

All ages are welcome for the viewing party, the announcement stated. Tickets to the CIP fundraiser start at $20 general admission, and can be purchased here.

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