Adrian Arias “River to the Sky” Mural

Adrian Arias

River to the Sky


“River to the Sky” statement

This mural is a fusion between the history of the Black Hawk Jazz Cafe, BLM and the ancestral roots of the Ohlone peoples and my ancestral Mochica culture.

Miles Davies recorded two albums at the Black Hawk Jazz Club, April 21-22, 1961, and Billie Holiday performed there on her last West Coast club tour.

These two icons of jazz had very deep moments of personal struggle, and their music and art was always the engine of their existence and their passion to continue in life. I feel that it is important to invoke their presence in the Tenderloin.

There are California Poppies, which are medicinal plants that help with anxiety, nervous agitation, insomnia, and it is also anti-inflammatory and analgesic.

The presence of a Black Hawk flying in a yellow sky represents determination and clarity. Spiritually hawks represent being in control of your own reality by using a combination of intuitive wisdom and quick decision making. He represents the power of being focused and confident at the moment of creation. When a Falcon is close, it can be noticed that spiritual awareness increases, and a greater alignment is felt between body, mind and spirit.

There is an Ohlone design, which I have taken from a basket that they created a long time ago, representing the flow of the water and the continuity of the rivers. With this design I have created a river that goes to the sky, wanting to rescue the idea of the underground rivers that exist in San Francisco, and that were part of Ohlone life and culture. This design, in the shape of a zig-zag, is a brother design of my ancestral culture, the Mochica, from which I have been inspired to draw fishes and waves.

The hummingbird represents the connection between the world of the living and the dead. Hummingbirds bring messages from our ancestors, to bring joy and hope

On the ear of Billie Holiday, there is an inscription “Say Her Name” as an earring, which speaks of an activist action in response to the deafening silence that has occurred for years surrounding the violation of women’s rights, their mistreatment and unjustified killings.
And in huge blocks you can read BLM, which represents the strongest revolutionary movement that has been strengthened after the death of George Floyd, and that continues to grow and be part of an emblem of defense of our rights as minorities of color.

–Adrián Arias

About the Artist

Adrian Arias (American, born in Peru) is a visual artist, poet, performer, curator, activist, and cultural promoter, who brings together multidisciplinary artists to engage in community projects with messages of social justice, racial equality, climate change, peace, beauty, health, and hope in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Arias is one of the founders and creators of MAPP (Mission Arts Performance Project) and creator of festivals in the San Francisco Bay Area such as: VideoFest, Luna Negra, and ILLUSION shows in San Francisco.

Adrian uses his dreams as creative initiatives, which he makes come true in performances and community projects, such as his multimedia shows called DREAMS, or most currently Tarot in Pandemic & Revolution, where 23 visual artists and 43 poets from the SF Bay Area have participated.

Adrian Statement: The truth of the creative moment

Art is a tool for mental and corporal liberation, therefore, a force for social justice.

Just like my ancestors from the Moche culture, from ancient Peru, I believe in art as an expression that mixes our reality with the images created in our dreams. The Mochicas were great observers, imaginative teachers, recreating their gods, using art to teach daily life, the body and rituals to transform and create new realities.

Adrian Arias, the ever brilliantly inventive visual poet of the gesturing Word,” – Jack Hirschman, Emeritus Poet Laureate of San Francisco.