Santuario/Sanctuary - CODAworx


Submitted by Juana Alicia

Client: San Francisco International Airport

Location: San Francisco, CA, United States

Completion date: 2000

Artwork budget: $150,000

Project Team


Juana Alicia

Divine Intervention/Intervención Divina


Emmanuel C.Montoya


SANCTUARY/SANTUARIO, fresco painting and sculptures for San Francisco International Airport, Juana Alicia (fresco) Emmanuel Catarino Montoya (bas relief sculptures) ©2000, 19’ x 23’. International Terminal G, Gate Room 99. San Francisco, California.


The goals for integrating this commissioned work were, for us, to create a warm and welcoming set of images that reflect the sanctuary nature of the San Francisco Bay Area. San Francisco's breathtakingly beautiful natural environment is a sanctuary for wildlife, and, in particular, the water birds that are featured in the wood carvings of Emmanuel C. Montoya. The area has another sanctuary legacy, in terms of providing a home for immigrants from all parts of the world, as well as being a cultural haven for those seeking gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights. And finally, San Francisco is a cultural sanctuary, with incredible diversity in the arts. In the fresco painted by Juana Alicia, the airport arrivals and leave takings of families and friends are celebrated, from the embraces of lovers to the reuniting of parents and children.


This project was designed and executed by Juana Alicia (fresco) and Emmanuel C.Montoya (sculpture). We worked in collaboration with the San Francisco Arts Commission and the San Francisco Airport Commission, to satisfy the needs of the entire community and anticipated audience. We also worked with the engineers at the architectural firm of HOK (Hellmuth, Obata Kassabaum) to design the fresco panels in a way that would be visually seamless and would be able to sustain a major seismic event. Other people involved in the the project included fresco assistant and poet, Tim Z. Hernandez, who helped transfer the cartoon, and a woman plasterer that prepared the surfaces for the fresco.

Additional Information

This large scale fresco buono, or true fresco as in the Mexican and Italian mural traditions, was inspired by my mentors and fresco teachers, Lucienne Bloch and Stephen Dimitroff, who were assistants to Diego Rivera. I studied with them to receive my MFA in Painting at the San Francisco Art Institute, and Stephen was to have plastered the fresco for me, but for his unfortunate death a year before the mural was painted. I am lucky and honored to have studied with these masters.