The San Francisco Art Institute is one of my very favorite spots in the city for its courtyard fountain and the resident fat koi, for its amazing views across the entire Bay, and for its massive Diego Rivera fresco tucked away in a side gallery. Last Thursday I was able to attend the second day of a symposium organized by SFAI and the Consulate General of Mexico in San Francisco that examined Rivera and other Mexican muralists with an eye to modern views about art and activism. Sara Daleiden did not talk about Rivera specifically but instead shared documentation from the brilliant How Many Billboards? project she co-organized down in Los Angeles, where since 2002 it has been illegal to paint a mural on private property due to a confusion about what constitutes art or signage. For a couple months in 2010 the MAK Center took over 21 LA billboards and installed specially-commissioned work by contemporary artists, further enriching the dialogue about art versus commerce. Daleiden's talk was meant to be followed by one by artist Ala Ebtekar, but in an eerily appropriate twist Ebtekar had missed his flight back from LA because he had been in court due to charges stemming from one of his public art projects. Julio César Morales stood in and presented Ebtekar's talk about the dangers of being a muralist in the public sphere after Universidad Iberoamericana professor Karen Cordero Reiman gave a paper entitled "Whose Body? Corporeal Discourse in Muralism and Contemporary Art" that contrasted historical images by Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros with more recent work by Silvia Gruner and Gerardo Suter. The evening wrapped with a roundtable discussion involving all the symposium participants, newly inspiring me to seek out the other three Diego murals in the Bay Area (at the SF City Club, at City College, at Cal). I also once again have deep appreciation for our own rich street art culture, where murals are often as much about community-building as they are about artistic expression.