One of the city’s most famous muralists leaves Alamo Square for even more artistic inspiration.
Muralist Brian Barneclo is a veteran of many neighborhoods. Since arriving in the city in 1996, he’s lived in the Mission, SoMa and most recently Alamo Square, where his mural graces the popular restaurant Nopa. In his Market Street studio—where he’s currently at work on a mural that will span the wall of a new apartment complex in Mission Bay—he looks very much the urban artist in jeans, a hipster T-shirt and canvas sneakers. But his new neighborhood, Mission Terrace—where he’s living with his girlfriend Mary Nite, an SF native who works as an account executive at Live 105/CBS Radio—is likely not even on the average Missionite’s radar. Tucked between Mission Street, 280 and Geneva Avenue, the neighborhood retains a multi-generational working-class feel that plays well to Barneclo’s sense of place.
Barneclo’s artwork focuses on city scenes, amalgamations of neighborhoods jumbled together, with an eye for the past. He tries to paint the character of hyper-local neighborhoods—Mid-Market, the Mission—and the down-to-earth vibe in Mission Terrace, with its older shops that cater to long-time, multi-generational residents, has served as an ideal muse. Barneclo wanders its streets looking for subjects and then paints remembered scenes back in his studio.
“I find so much inspiration in the neighborhood,” says Barneclo. “I’m all about San Francisco neighborhoods, and this one continues to inspire me, every day. I’ll be walking down the streets and find secret paths and little unofficial mini-parks that people have just made. I love that.”
One of his favorite spots is the Sunnyside Conservatory, where the neighborhood came together to restore a 111-year-old, octagonal glass-and-wood conservatory. He also likes the wealth of ethnic restaurants and proximity to the heart of the Mission. Better yet, long bound by the 22 Hayes, Barneclo is now only a few minutes away from his studio via BART. “It actually takes me less time to get to my studio now than it did when I lived in the middle of it all,” explains Brian. “That’s what I tripped on when I moved out there. I thought it was the boondocks, but really it’s still the central city.”
What to Do in Mission Terrace
As you drive South along Mission Street past 280, the enclave to your right is Mission Terrace. Like the Excelsior, it’s an ethnically diverse neighborhood whose main commercial strip is Mission Street, with a slightly smaller one along San Jose Avenue. Here you’ll find one of the city’s longest-lived and most beloved burger joints:
Joe’s Cable Car. The fresh-ground chuck comes complete with booths and milk shakes. Bare-bones Beijing Restaurant has lured in the Chowhounders for its regional Chinese cuisine, including the excellent cumin lamb and fennel dumplings. The micro-famous Roxie Food Center 1901 San Jose Ave., 415-587-2345 is a bodega that’s better known for its selection of massive deli sandwiches, including a killer pastrami on Dutch crunch. Local watering hole Spitfire Rose 1790 San Jose Ave., 415-334-4511 has recently become increasingly popular with the ironic set.
For green space, Balboa Park San Jose and Ocean avenues has a public pool and tennis courts. There’s also the funky, arty and charming. Cayuga Park (western end of Cayuga Avenue), full of little trails; the 70-acre Glen Canyon Park (Bosworth and Elk streets) is also nearby.