The historic Women’s Building, set in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District, has served the District’s dynamically shifting populations for 100 years as a setting for political activism, women’s resources, classes, fundraisers and weddings. A hub for intellectuals, nonprofits and women’s rights advocates, the Women’s Building is also home to “MaestraPeace,” the internationally renowned wraparound mural adorning the building’s exterior. Covering two exterior walls, MaestraPeace is educational and inspirational–honoring the generations of courageous woman leaders around the world. San Francisco choreographer Jo Kreiter celebrates the Women’s Building’s rich legacy and the collaborative spirit of the female muralists whose artistry brings women’s history to life.
Kreiter’s unique dance company, Flyaway Productions, presents “Singing Praises: Centennial Dances for the Women’s Building”–an aerial dance and acrobatic performance whereby skilled dancers use the elements of flight and suspension to expand the sustenance and majesty of this particular corner of San Francisco. “I create work from broad notions of art as a catalyst for change,” says Kreiter. “Our aim is to merge image and choreography, shifting the audience’s relationship to time, gravity and a century of history. I want to celebrate…the Women’s Building for dedicating itself so fiercely to the noble goods–justice, equality, opportunity–that all women deserve.”
The performance takes place on the exterior of the building, making creative use of fire escapes, balconies, ledges and ladders to engage the personalities of the women featured on the mural. “I am inspired by the process by which it was made,” says Kreiter. “I love thinking about the collaborative process and daily decision-making that happened in the Lapidge Street over time as it was made. I think a collaborative process is essentially a peace process and it has kept us company as we have been working on Lapidge Street all summer.”
Covering two exterior walls and soaring four stories high, MaestraPeace was painted in 1994 through multi-cultural and multi-generation collaboration of seven women artists. The largest and most colorful mural in the city, MaestraPeace portrays famous women leaders such as Audre Lorde, Rigoberta Menchu and Quan Yin.
Although the building and surrounding community has changed greatly since Women’s Liberation, the struggle for equality remains alive. “There is incredible sexism in the community still, when it comes to work and financial opportunities,” Kreiter says. “A strong voice has not yet translated into full equality of opportunity.”
Kreiter is deeply committed to celebrating the contributions of local women as well as international women leaders. “We want the community to take away from our performance an appreciation of women, women artists and activists, a sense of awe, a feeling of belonging to the City and most importantly an inspiration to do something creative.”
Friday-Saturday, September 10-11, 8 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.; Sunday, September 12, 8 p.m.
Thursday-Saturday, September 16-18, 8 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.
Location: 3543 18th St. at Lapidge, between Valencia and Guerrero, San Francisco.
The Women’s Building Mural MaestraPeace, The Women’s Building
Flyaway Productions, July 26, 2010, Singing Praises: Centennial Dances for the Women’s Building, Retrieved from http://www.flyawayproductions.com/pressroom.html.