By Brian Rinker
The Mission Community Market celebrated their first outdoor farmers market of the year April 14, during which Supervisor David Campos spoke, live music played and a reproduction of a 200-year-old mural was revealed.
“This kind of event is what makes the Mission special,” Campos said. He was the first speaker to kick off the market’s season opening on Bartlet Street between 21st and 22nd streets, just a block away from Mission campus.
The highlight was the mural, a reproduction of what was once the rear altar for the Mission Dolores Church before it was replaced by a newer one in 1796. It has remained hidden from view for over 200 years. The mural is thought to have been painted by the local Indians and overseen by catholic clergy.
“It is a unique artifact and may represent first contact with the native people,” said Ben Wood, organizer of the mural’s reproduction. “There is question whether the mural is native or Christian or a combination of the two. It’s not clear.”
Back in 2004 when Wood first became aware of the hidden altar, he contacted archaeologist Eric Blind to help him. Together they began systematically taking pictures of the altar by lowering a camera from the church rafters. The space in between the old altar and the new one is so cramped and dark that a person could neither see nor fit back there.
They ended up with a “stitch work” of pictures of the top section of the altar, which was then used as reference by three local artists to paint the mural exactly how it exists now – worn, chipped, cracked and with rafters peeking through.
The mural took three weeks to paint and is located on the wall behind the Mission Mercado, right across the street from City College’s Mission campus.
“It’s kind of amazing,” Blind said. “It’s so nice to stand back and stare at it.”
The mural is a permanent fixture, though Mission Community Market only happens on Thursdays between 4 p.m. and 8.pm. It comprises vendors selling fresh produce, music and art.