May 8 & Aug. 16, 2015 - Catholic SF - 2 Murals

New Marian mural adorns Church of the Visitacion

May 8, 2015

San Francisco artist Stefan Salinas created new devotional artwork to adorn the facade of Church of the Visitacion in the city’s Visitacion Valley neighborhood. With manufacturing and construction by Tile Mural Creative Arts, Jesus Lara and Miguel Campos, “The Mural of the Visitation” was ceremonially blessed April 26 after the 5 p.m. Vietnamese-language Mass. Salinas shared these images and a description of the project with Catholic San Francisco. The pastor of the parish is Father Thuan V. Hoang.

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

Luke 1:39-45: Mary Visits Elizabeth

Here we have a printed tile mural proposal to accompany a very modern church structure. What ceramic and pottery adornments outside church buildings have we to look to for inspiration? Very striking examples can be found in Italy, and date from the 15th century: the glazed terra cotta works of Luca della Robbia. With the gentle, classically posed figures and compositions, glazed in palettes usually limited to two to five colors, the tableaus sit well with tradition and yet are bold and easy to read from a distance. I felt that referencing clayware for porcelain tile work was apropo. Plus, employing the European technique of trompe de l’oeil and having the pop art movement of the 1960s somewhere in my mind (since the church that stands today was erected in the 1950s, with windows made within the next few decades) – it all came together.

And now for the rest of the elements:

God the Father is represented by the Eye of God at the upper left corner, shining down upon Mary. The sun is backing the triangle, as there are many references to Christ, God and the Holy Spirit as being sun-like. To the right is the starry sky, with the Star of Bethlehem shining brightly.

Across the top, starting from the corner of the Eye of God (Have you heard the saying “when you were just a twinkle in your father’s eye”?) are seven spheres = the seven days of creation. Each is divided into more sections, and the sphere’s increase in size, alluding to a human embryo developing, and traveling through the fallopian tube.

White roses = Mary’s purity.

Easter lilies: In early Christian art, the Angel Gabriel offers pure white lilies to the Virgin Mary, and this symbolizes that she will be the mother of Jesus. Purity; hope; life; Easter.

Daffodils = Eternal life; the resurrection.

Egg-and-dart motif in the frame: It is a pattern that has been in use from ancient Greek times, through the Renaissance and to the present day. It is a classical design celebrating life and death; the life cycle.

The tiles are made of very durable porcelain, kiln-fired at 1,800 degrees, able to withstand the elements for decades to come, and were manufactured by Tile Mural Creative Arts, out of Calabasas. They make the tiles featured in the Monastery Icons catalog. Amid the blood, sweat and tears, working on this image has been a true blessing.

– Stefan Salinas

Convert commissioned to paint new school mural

Convert commissioned to paint new school mural

August 14, 2015
Christina Gray

Stefan Salinas’ signature style as an illustrator, seen last year after the publication of his children’s book, “Catholic Churches, Big and Small,” is turning heads instead of pages this time with a whimsical wall mural outside of St. Philip the Apostle School at 24th and Diamond streets in Noe Valley. Pastor Father Tony LaTorre commissioned Salinas, a friend and parishioner at Most Holy Redeemer, to paint the mural showing an academic procession led by “‘faith” and the Holy Spirit. Salinas’ collaboration with Father LaTorre is not the first one. Salinas designed and donated a large stained-glass depiction of St. Francis and the wolf of Gubbio for the parish chapel last year.

Included in the colorful scene are little historical, religious, regional and personal details, such as Father LaTorre’s “Scotty” dog and a Giants baseball (the pastor loves the Giants). There are golden poppies, symbolizing California, and shamrocks, a nod to the largely Irish congregation led by a redheaded altar girl who is stepping on a snake, a symbol of the triumph over Satan. Architectural details include the Golden Gate Bridge, Mission Dolores, St. Philip Church and St. Mary’s Cathedral.