San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) announced that the Mellon Foundation has awarded a $200,000 grant supporting the school’s monumental 1931 Diego Rivera fresco, The Making of a Fresco, Showing the Building of a City, one of San Francisco’s most enduring and beloved cultural assets.
The grant award will support the first phase of a multi-faceted initiative centered on the fresco, encompassing public programs, conservation, scholarship, and preserving and digitizing SFAI’s related archival collections.
SFAI is well-positioned and resourced to begin this comprehensive Diego Rivera Fresco Project. Art historian and museum specialist Zoya Kocur, Ph.D., has joined SFAI as the Diego Rivera Fresco Program Manager. She brings initiative and a depth of experience in academia, museums, and arts organizations. In addition to collegiate teaching, Kocur developed and led education programs at the Whitney Museum and the New Museum, among others.
The Diego Rivera Fresco Project will expand SFAI’s curriculum for collegiate students and provide additional access, resources, and support for artists, scholars, local schools, and diverse communities—as intended by the artist and the patrons who commissioned the work.
Created during the artist’s first visit to the United States, SFAI commissioned The Making of a Fresco after faculty members traveled to Mexico to study with Rivera in the late 1920s. SFAI’s then-president, William Gerstle, was instrumental in offering Rivera his first commission in the United States and securing visas for Rivera and his wife, Frida Kahlo. Due to Rivera’s status as an active, though a frequently expelled member of Mexico’s Communist Party, attaining their visas was noteworthy.
“The fresco I painted in the San Francisco School of Fine Arts [now SFAI] seems to me to express exactly the objective situation which produced it and to contain, technically, all the possibilities of mural painting; and, since it was executed in a technical school of the plastic arts, these, naturally, had to be its first functions.” —Diego Rivera, Portrait of America
The fresco occupies the north wall of the Diego Rivera Gallery on SFAI’s landmark campus at 800 Chestnut Street and is open to the public free of charge Mondays through Saturdays.
Learn more at sfai.edu.