Archive for April, 2011

On Saturday, I attended the closing reception of the Indoor Mural Project at 941 Geary Gallery (between Polk and Larkin). A handful of emerging and established graffiti and street artists from the world over have been working over the last few months for this big reveal of a series of site-specific works. Guests were invited to visit the gallery to see the progression and transformation of the blank canvas gallery space, although I was only able to make it to the final unveiling.

These are a few of my favorite things:

Erik Foss created this large-scale American flag made out of cardboard homeless person signs, complete with stars crafted from condoms — don’t want to know whether they’re used. The piece makes an obvious point about a gross national problem, but I also thought it was interesting to see these cardboard box signs, discards to begin with, given a permanent address. However sad, many were quite creative and humorous, and it’s nice to see that celebrated in a way. So many clever copywriters in our midst.

Bay Area-based artist Edie Colla created a wall of individually-painted news boxes using wheatpastes, newspapers, and stencils. Logo and street sign imagery nodded to the advertising that normally dominates our urban landscapes, but I was most interested to see an outdoor staple, newspaper dispensers which are often covered in graffiti, taken out of context indoors.

Chad Hasegawa‘s bear was absolutely rad. He uses a lot of grizzlies in his work with layers of torn wallpaper and that rectangular Pointilist effect, but this particular mammal has a serious presence. Be scurred.

There was a lot going in Damon Soule‘s Surrealist painting with a tower of school chairs dripping in purple tar, Moorish print turkey basters flying about, and soda cans littering the scene. Makes you think twice about tossing your recycling out with the trash . . . nevertheless, the colors are captivating and the design is seriously eye-catching.I was excited with Hugh Leeman‘s smoking, SF Giants hat-sporting man. I’d spotted a photo of the progression of the painting/drawing on the 941 Geary blog and was looking forward to seeing how it turned out. I also often see Leeman’s wheatpastes around town and I’ve been contemplating pilfering one off of a billboard for my living room.

Aerosol artist Chor Boogie‘s mural was pretty apocalyptic. The details are brilliant; even just a 2’x2’ piece of this puzzle would make a coveted abstract artwork.
If you didn’t make it, I’m sorry you missed it. Keep your eyes peeled on the sidewalk for more stellar designs by these star artists.


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You know you can trust word on the street when it comes from, well, the street. One Polk Street business owner recently shared on her Facebook page that she’s “really, really excited a salad bar is finally coming to Polk Street . . . Blue Barn.” Apparently a neighboring business owner told her it’s going into the former Jade Snow Wong Travel Space at 2424 Polk St., which would make sense, as the location has had kraft paper covering the windows lately and seems to be under construction. But, the new Blue Barn Gourmet (second to a Marina location) is also rumored to be opening at 2238 Polk St, the former address of that seriously over-priced catering place, Aimee, Andrew & Co., which is already set up for a kitchen — did I mention I’m glad they closed?

I’m excited for the possibility of having more yummy salads on Polk, but wary of the street becoming too franchise-ridden. One commenter wrote, “Now all we need is a Chow and a Plant and we’ll be good.” Eek! Or how about all we need is an adorably cute and delicious café that’s one-of-a-kind and unique to our already unique neighborhood? That sounds better to me.

Anyone got any more scoop on Blue Barn moo-ving in to Russian Hill?

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There are more than 60 properties in Russian Hill on the market, but only one built any time before the 20th century. An expansive Italianate house on Van Ness between Lombard and Chestnut, which was built in 1875, just came on the market Saturday, and it’s a remarkably rare occasion. The 136-year-old house was originally located on Larkin at Broadway (well before the Broadway Tunnel was built in 1950), but it was moved in 1904 to its current location — its saving grace from the 1906 fire.

Another of the mansion’s unusual distinctions is that it has been owned and occupied by the same family who built it — and its fine architectural details, elegant staircase, grand rooms, opulent chandeliers, carved marble fireplaces and polished wood floors — more than a century ago. Which family? Well, I’ve done some digging in public records and come up short. I would be interested to hear their story.As for the interior décor, you have all the staples you’d expect from a home of that era: stained glass windows, ornately carved wood furniture, ceiling medallions, tufted settees, and family portrait oil paintings — all of which, naturally, are just superficial.

Anyone who’s ever taken Real Estate 101 knows that “location, location, location” is key to house-hunting, so let’s talk about the latitude and longitude of this beauty. One of the greatest perks of this palace is that it’s kitty-corner to Black Magic Voodoo Lounge, the best New Orleans bar in the city and one of the few places to find an Abita beer in SF. Meanwhile, if you stick your head out of one of the front windows and to the right, you can see the Bay — score! Another plus: you’re also a step away from the bus stop, whether you ride the 30, the 30x, the 47, or the 49. Unfortunately, the house is on noisy Van Ness — can stained glass be double-paned? — and the house is uncomfortably close to Galileo Academy, the alma mater of none other than O.J. Simpson. Ayeeeeeeeee!

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Where to Be on April 30

It’s that time of year again. The time when young, urban professionals, neon wristbands at the ready, descend onto the street of Polk in search of reduced-priced drinks and loose lips to kiss. Eight years running, the annual Polk Street Pub Crawl presents “daytime drinking at its finest” (speculation!) on April 30, sending April out with a slow stumble home. With the much-awaited shutdown of The Wine Bar, we have a newcomer this year: Black Sheep. The usual participating bars, including Shanghai Kelly’s, Rouge, Cresta’s, Green’s, The Buccaneer, Rex Cafe, and Tonic, will also be joining the drunkwagon. Tickets, usually $6 a pop, go on sale Tuesday at 10:30am. But don’t you worry, sweet thing: this is no sold-out-in-seconds MGMT show. You’ve got a good two weeks to buy your tix.
Not eager to be surrounded by bros waiting twenty minutes for a $1-off light beer? Then I highly suggest steering clear of Polk Street between Broadway and Union that day. Many a Saturday, I discreetly craft a public house stroll of my own, and believe it or not, I don’t shell out six George Washingtons for it. The trick to snagging drink specials on an off-day? Put on your freshest face and your widest smile, befriend the bartenders who so gracefully put up with your inebriation, and take a roadie to-go.

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