Tagging has defaced many murals in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Chinatown Community Development Center (CCDC) youth intentionally selected a mosaic tile muralist to collaborate with, to create a piece that was easy to maintain and to prevent graffiti. “Blooming on Fragrance Alley” is the result of the youth, with artist Margarita Soyfertis, and the property owner collaboration. A dozen youths from Chinatown CDC’s Adopt An Alleyway and Youth for SRO programs explored the history and stories of the alleyway, decided on a concept, composed the design, and laid out the tiles. The garden-flower theme references the meaning of the alley’s Chinese name “Hang Ah,” meaning “Fragrance,” as the alley once housed a number of perfumeries.The mural’s concept seeks to open up the tight alleyway space by providing a three-dimensional perspective of the scenery, viewed through the artwork’s window and moon gate openings.
Since 2008, CCDC youth have spearheaded a “Public Art in Alley” series as a key component complementing the ongoing Chinatown Alleyway Master Plan and renovation. Youth have also completed a mural in Jack Keroauc Alley with artist Robert Minervini, a Keywords Studio exhibit at Ross Alley with artist Xu Tan, and murals in Wentworth Alley with Margarita Soyfertis and Justin Hoover in partnership with Chinese Culture Center.