Enter a wonderland of interactive art at San Francisco’s Umbrella Alley
By Victoria Vallecorse LOCALish – Monday, April 10, 2023
SAN FRANCISCO — There’s a vibrant glow emanating from one of the most colorful alleys in San Francisco. It welcomes passersby into a wonderland of art that’s overflowing with photo opportunities.
“We have people from all over the world that come here, as well as local San Franciscans who come here with their families,” said Brian Huber, the founder of Umbrella Alley. “No matter how bad my day is, I can walk in here and people are laughing and cutting up and doing silly stuff. And I’m like, ‘Okay, yeah this is fun.'”
Umbrella Alley was once a gray parking lot housing popular San Francisco tour vehicles. Today, it has evolved into a dream-like atmosphere that invites visitors and locals to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life.
“Once you’re in here, there’s so much color, there’s so much art,” said artist Lui Nova. “There are so many murals and pieces that you can interact with.”
“Brian was interested in trying to create an environment that the city could really enjoy,” described artist Maxfield Bala.
Shrouded under an umbrella ceiling (hence the name), find massive murals and installations that showcase the diverse talent of the San Francisco arts community.
The unique work pays homage to the City by the Bay and the state of California. When you first set foot in the alley, look to your right to see the iconic umbrella mural.
“It’s supposed to be playful,” said creator Lui Nova. “There are a bunch of different colors. If you notice, they have the colors of the Pride Flag, which is also welcoming…that’s a big part of who San Francisco is.”
Visitors to the space enjoy pretending like they’re holding the painted umbrellas.
“I think as an artist, you try to make art that’s going to invite the viewer to interact with it rather than just walk by,” said Nova.
Continue through the alley, and you’ll find masterpieces galore – including a mural that incorporates illustrations of San Francisco’s landmarks made to look like a vintage postcard.
“We decided that creating a postcard, kind of a tribute to San Francisco that people could commemorate the time that they spent here, would be so fun,” said Bala of his “Greetings from San Francisco” mural.
From there, turn right and you’ll see a giant butterfly featuring a kaleidoscope of color.
“We wanted something that was really a great photo opportunity for people when they walked in here,” said Bala. “Having that sort of groovy butterfly with a lot of psychedelic patterns created something that would pay homage to the summer of love in 1969 and San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury.
Each mural provides a special photo opportunity – so snap away!
For more information follow @umbrellaalleysf on Instagram.