More than 1,000 murals can be found throughout San Francisco, the largest concentration of them located in the city’s Mission District. In the early 1970’s San Francisco’s Mission District became the epicenter for the community mural movement. Local artists saw it as a way to beautify the neighborhood that had become the “heart” of the city’s Latino community.
The community mural movement in the Mission District spanned almost two decades – from 1972 to 1988. The result is an outdoor art gallery full of vibrant murals adorning hundreds of walls, fences, and even garage doors throughout the neighborhood. Themes range from cultural heritage, pop culture, and everyday life in “el barrio” to social and political issues.
In October of 2021, a new mural debuted on a wall of San Francisco’s 24th Street BART plaza, celebrating La Familia Santana. In partnership with the non-profit group, Mission Arts 415, and painted by San Francisco artist, Crayone, and cartoonist, Mark Bode, the Santana Family Mural was commissioned by Annie Rodriguez and the Santanas.
Rodriguez, an educator and photographer who helps run Latin Rock Inc, along with its founder, Dr. Bernardo D. Gonzalez, III, contacted Jorge Santana and discussed the idea of commissioning a mural in his honor. Jorge liked the idea, but wanted the mural to be a tribute to the entire Santana family, including Carlos, their parents, and Salvador, Carlos’s son, a well-known keyboardist.
Rodriguez and Jorge Santana spent almost 3 years raising the necessary funds, securing the wall at the BART plaza on 24th St. and planning the piece. Santana, frontman of the groundbreaking San Francisco Latin rock bank, Malo, designed the mural working together with Randolph Bowes of Mission Art 415.
On October 29, 2021, the Santana family, along with dozens of community members, musicians, and politicians, including Mayor London Breed and community organizer Roberto Hernandez gathered together at the 24th and Mission Street BART Plaza for the blessing and unveiling of the 60-ft mural in honor of Jorge Santana.
Sadly, Jorge Santana never got the chance to see his vision come to fruition. In May of 2020, he passed away from a heart attack. But, according to daughter Michelle, ” . . . when I look at the mural, I feel a sense of peace and love . . . I feel my dad. And the feeling I get is joy.”
The mural depicts Carlos Santana, his eyes closed, head tilted towards the heavens, jamming on his guitar. Next to him is Jorge Santana, jamming in his own right, their parents, Josefina and Jorge Santana, and finally, Salvador Santana playing keyboard. Emblazoned on top of the mural are the words “La Familia Santana.”
This beautiful tribute to La Familia Santana would never have been possible if Josefina and Jorge Santana had not decided to migrate from Jalisco, Mexico to the Mission District in the ‘60s. That decision would end up forever changing the course of rock history, since both Carlos and Jorge Santana: pioneers of a music genre that’s still listened to and loved by people the world over.