This piece is on the way to Eberhard Janke (Edition Janus) in Berlin for his mail art call with the theme The Unleashed TheARTre. Sending something from San Francisco, I felt the need to get out the glitter and memorialize one of our greatest homegrown theatre troupes — The Cockettes. They were before my time in San Francisco and the Palace Pagoda Theatre is no more. But I loved the performances when the Thrillpeddlers revived their shows in recent years.
Thursday, July 9, 2020
Friday, July 3, 2020
The story of Golden Gate Park is of a windswept landscape of dunes that 150 years ago were transformed into 1,107 acres a public park. As beautiful as the park is, it is essentially artificial. The waterfalls, the gardens, the redwoods, the meadows — none of it was there before. Thanks to irrigation, horse manure and gardening, the natural landscape was transformed. And while I appreciate coastal dunes, it’s hard to argue with Golden Gate Park — it is the escape from urban life we all need at times.
But the story has a twist. This week I visited unspoiled nature with a lovely walk through some typical California oak woodlands. Hiding in the northeast corner of Golden Gate Park, generally overlooked by most visitors, is a magical place. A pocket of the original landscape that was never altered.
It is difficult to capture the woodlands in photos or a painting, but it was worth a try.
Monday, June 22, 2020
Things are far from getting back to normal, but the flow of mail art (sent and received) seems to be picking up. Mail art does make for some safe, socially distant fun. A recent trip to the post office box included zines big and small. Theo Nelson is taking mail he receives and turning pieces into one-of-a-kind zines. Robin Sparrow’s delicate, shimmering, hand sewn piece made it through the mail all the way from New Zealand. And it’s good to see things are busy at Gregg Biggs’ Museum of Unclaimed Ephemera.
The mail shown here includes:
- Debra Mulnick – Idaho
- Kathy Barnett – Missouri
- Gregg Biggs – Museum of Unclaimed Ephemera – California
- – Taiwan
- - California
- Theo Nelson – Canada
- — New Zealand
- Dori Singh – California
Because I can enjoy our parks on weekday afternoons. I tend to avoid the crowds on weekends. This was true even before the pandemic. I’ve noticed that most people seem to be practicing social distancing and, until they safely settle into a spot, usually wear a mask. That said we have a certain amount of careless and self-centered fools right here in San Francisco — for example, in 2016 9% of San Francisco voters chose the racist, Russian stooge who will remain nameless.
Sunday, June 14, 2020
In 1990, Hayes Valley was a scrappy neighborhood, with affordable (!) rents. All bisected by the behemoth of the Central Freeway. A noisy, dirty, elevated structure that nearly collapsed in the Loma Prieta Earthquake. Gradually, over many years and political maneuvering, the freeway was torn down. If you never saw the freeway, it is hard to imagine it was ever there.
Commercial rents were low back then and retail pioneers started to take a chance on Hayes Valley. In those days they were local, homegrown businesses. Many of those shops were too high end for the times. Quite a few lasted about a year. There were even rumors of money-laundering fronts. That said, some succeeded for a long time and a handful of the original stores are still in the neighborhood. Today, Hayes Valley has become one of the most expensive retail strips in one of the most expensive cities in the world. No one will be opening up a shop or restaurant without deep pockets and wealthy investors.
In the 1990s one of my favorite hang outs was a small café called Momi Toby’s. I had spent countless hours there by the time I discovered the hidden world beneath the café and sidewalk prisms just out front. One day, I was in the neighborhood with an open studios map and one of the locations was Momi Toby’s.
At first, I assumed I would see an art show in the café. I stepped inside, what I thought was a wooden panel had been opened. It revealed a hidden doorway and a narrow, windy staircase. It was like a secret passage. The stairs took me below the café to a large, high-ceilinged, room that expanded below the sidewalk. Natural light filled the space. It was so unexpected — it was magical. The room was tiled with built in ovens along one wall. I discovered the building had once been home to a bakery and below Momi Toby’s was now Tinhorn Press.
Tinhorn Press is gone. Momi Toby’s eventually changed hands, the prices climbed. Now it is replaced by a smart bar. Still, when I walk down Laguna Street, I often think about the secret world under my feet. A world far cooler and more interesting than a neighborhood with shops that sell $500 shoes and thimbles of ice cream for $7.