May 272015

83 McAllister San Francisco

This is the Methodist Book Concern.  The book concern, established in 1789 in Philadelphia, was the oldest publishing house in the United States and used Abington press as their trade imprint. It is now the United Methodist Publishing House and it is the largest general agency of The United Methodist Church.

The Methodist Book Concern furnished reading material to church members and helped support ministers, who received liberal commissions for selling the publications. ”The preachers still feel the need of the press as their most potent ally in their work,” said The Methodist Review in 1889

Notice the MBC along the roof-line

Notice the MBC along the roof-line

The building was designed by Lewis Parsons Hobart (January 14, 1873 — October 19, 1954) an American architect whose designs also included San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral.

Hobart received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, and studied at the American Academy in Rome and the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris.

Hobart played a role in the rebuilding efforts of the San Francisco Bay Area following the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, designing several buildings, including the Methodist Book Concern that was completed in 1909.

Hobart became the first President of the San Francisco Arts Commission in 1932 and was also appointed to the Board of Architects for the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition.

Methodist Book Concern San Francisco

The Methodist Book Concern was built on the site of the Yerba Buena Cemetery.

“Sixteen More Graves Discovered on Site of Yerba Buena Cemetery. Nine more bodies were uncovered by workmen excavating for the Methodist Book Concern’s new building on City Hall avenue and McAllister street yesterday, on the site of the old Yerba Buena Cemetery, one of the oldest burial grounds in the city of San Francisco, now in the heart of the great down town district. This makes a total of twenty-five graves that have been discovered on this site since excavation was begun last week. The first grave was discovered on Friday afternoon, with a well preserved headstone erected in 1851.
When it became known that the workmen were excavating on the site of the famous Yerba Buena Cemetery, a great crowd collected to watch the uncovering of the graves. Many rotted coffins were discovered, but in every case, the bodies had completely decomposed, owing to the damp and sandy nature of the soil, and only a pile of bones remained to tell that a human being had once been interred there.

By Tuesday night the workmen had uncovered the remains of sixteen bodies and these were placed in a little box and left for the Coroner. No one was sent form the Coroner’s office on Tuesday night, however, and when the workmen went to work yesterday morning all the skulls in the collection had been stolen. It is presumed that they were taken by medical students, or ghouls. What remained of the sixteen bodies was taken away by the Coroner’s deputy yesterday afternoon, and the bones will be reburied to remain until, perhaps, the advance of civilization once more unearths them in the midst of a populated district.”

The Yerba Buena Cemetery was abolished by the city hall act, passed by the State Legislature of 1869-70, providing for the removal of the cemetery and the erection of a City Hall on the property. The validity of this act was fought long and hard in the courts, on the ground that the tract was sacredly dedicated as a cemetery, and the fight was carried to the Supreme Court of the State in the case of San Francisco vs. P. II. Cannavan, who was at that time a member of the Board of Supervisors. The act was upheld, however, and the cemetery was removed in 1871.

That portion where the bodies are being found was one of the lowest spots in the cemetery, and it is probable that the graves which are being unearthed may have been covered by sand before the cemetery was removed. The graves are from twelve to twenty-five feet below the surface.”

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, 9 April 1908.

San Francisco's First City Hall

The building does not sit flush with the street because its original address was City Hall Avenue.  These streets were all changed when the new city hall was moved off of Market Street after the 1906 Earthquake.

Yerba Buena Cemetery Map

The original address of the Methodist Book Concern was 5 City Hall Avenue

The original address of the Methodist Book Concern was 5 City Hall Avenue.            Sanborn 1905 map

The Methodist Book Concern location today

The Methodist Book Concern location today

Methodist Book Concern


After having served as the Church of Scientology building for many years, the building has undergone a substantial seismic renovation and is now condominiums.



May 192015

Savannah Riverfront
East Side – near the Hyatt Elevator
Savannah's African American MonumentThis monument was built in 2002, designed by Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) professor Dorothy Spradley, it shows a family embracing with the chain of slavery at their feet.

Maya Angelou's Poem

Maya Angelou’s Poem

“We were stolen, sold and bought together from the African continent. We got on the slave ships together. We lay back to belly in the holds of the slave ships in each others excrement and urine together, sometimes died together, and our lifeless bodies thrown overboard together. Today, we are standing up together, with faith and even some joy.”

DSC_3081Dorothy Spradley was born in 1946. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Agnes Scott College, 1967 and a Master of Fine Arts, from the University of Georgia, 1976.

Savannah's African American Monument

May 192015

The Center of River Street, on the west side of the Hyatt tunnel
Savannah, Georgia

This World War II monument is also known as “The Cracked Earth” monument. The two halves of the globe are split, representing the conflict of a world divided. Inside are the names of all who served from Chatham county, Georgia.

A World Apart

A World Apart

The dream of the Chatham County Veterans Council, this memorial took ten years of fundraising to accomplish.

Architect, Eric Meyerhoff,  was approached by the City of Savannah to help design the memorial. “This was a World War, and I wanted that theme,” Meyerhoff said. “The world was divided. Pacific theater. European theater. And I came up with the world apart.”

DSC_3090Meyerhoff’s firm was instrumental in the revitalization of the riverfront.

A World Divided


The monument itself was created by Brandell Studios, headed by sculptor Kim Brandell. 
A world divided


Cracked Earth


May 182015

Father Boeddeker Park
259 Eddy Street
The Tenderloin

Father Boeddeker Park San Francisco

Father Boedekker Park has gone through a much needed and highly anticipated refurbishment.  The $9.3 million face-lift to the Tenderloins only multi-use park was long over due.  The $9.3 million renovation was made possible with a $4.93 million grant  from the California Department of Parks and Recreation, more than $3.3 million of private contribution from corporate business donors, and funds from The Trust of Public Land, as well as more than $1.7 million of City’s general fund, open space fund, and Parks Bond.

Fencer at Boedekker Park

There was already some public art in the park that you can read about here, but the fence by local artist Amy Blackstone, is new.

Amy Blackstone artistAmy’s studio is in Hunters Point, and her love of flowers has shown in several pieces she has around San Francisco.

Father Boeddeker Park

There are four 6X6 galvanized metal panels in the fence.

Amy Blackstone


May 122015

Castro Street

Rainbow Crosswalk SF Castro District

The Castro Street Design Project was a street improvement project by the City of San Francisco that improved the cable car turn around at Market Street and Castro Street between Market and 19th.  This included the fabulous rainbow cross walk you see above and historic markers placed in the sidewalk up and down Castro Street on both sides of the street for those two blocks.

Castro Street Improvements

The native Yelamu people lived nearby in the village of Chutchul relocating each winter to the bayside village of Sitlintac. A creek flows past grassland and chaparral toward the bay along the path of today’s 18th street.

1854 Castro Street

American settler John Hohner purchases a portion of Rancho San Miguel, Castro Street, named after a prominent Mexican Era Californio Family, makes the western border of the nascent neighborhood known as Horner’s addition.

1914 Castro District

Thousands attend the first known festival on Castro Street to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Twin Peaks Tunnel.  The San Francisco Chronicle declares the celebration “A riot of hilarity and merrymaking.”. The tunnel opens in 1918.

1922 Castro Street History

The Nasser Brothers open the Castro Theater. The first movie palace designed by Prominent architect Timothy Pflueger. An early usherette at the theatre, Janet Gaynor, goes on to win best actress at the Academy Awards in 1929.

1982 Castro Street

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, A queer activist and charity group founded in 1979, organize one of the world’s first AIDS related fundraisers, a dog show on Castro Street. Local resident and disco star Sylvester is one of the judges.

A Sister of Perpetual Indulgence

A Sister of Perpetual Indulgence

Sylvester LGBGT

2013 Castro Street HistoryNational attention turns to the Castro as thousands gather to celebrate the U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing same-sex marriages in California, marking a milestone in the neighborhood’s historic role as a center for LGBT rights.

There are many more plaques along the sidewalks, all part of the City’s improvement program.


May 042015

1245 Third Street
Mission Bay

First Responder Plaza SF Paul Koos

The new City and County Public Safety Building houses the police administrative headquarters, a relocated district police station, a new district fire station, San Francisco’s SWAT team and fleet vehicle parking.   Part of the design included the First Responder Plaza at the corner on Third Street, designed by artist Paul Kos who was responsible for the Poetry Garden in SOMA.

In First Responder Plaza, Paul Kos created a design around three central motifs standing for Police, Fire and Paramedic Services.  A bronze bell, a seven point star and a conifer as a natural flag pole. According to Kos, “The three main elements comprise my three tenors, all unique icons, all on the same stage at the same time.”

DSC_2601The  “All Is Well Bell” is suspended from a large red arch. Kos was inspired to incorporate a bell into his design after seeing multiple bells at the Fire Department Museum as well as in the Fire Department Repair and Maintenance shops he visited while doing research for this project.

Kos worked with  bell foundry, Paccard, in Annecy, France the same foundry that cast many of the very large bells for the Campanile at UC Berkeley. (American bell foundries no longer cast large bells).  The bell cost $300,000.


The seven point star, made of black granite was identified early on in his process as a respectful and poetic symbol for the Police, because it represents the department’s core values: truth, justice, fortitude, temperance, prudence, tolerance and brotherhood. The 22″ high star serves as a bench, as well as a symbolic focal point.

When full grown the conifer, the third element, will serve to provide a human touch.

The art budget for the Public Safety Building was $3.2 million. While it is difficult to determine through public records exactly what was spent on the plaza alone, it appears to be in the neighborhood of $850,000.

Spiral of Gratitude

 Mission Bay  Comments Off
Apr 292015

Spiral of Gratitude

Spiral of Gratitude is part of the $3.2 million Percent for Art Program that went into San Francisco’s new Public Safety Building.

Spiral of Gratitude, by New York artist Shimon Attie, is a suspended, 17 foot tall 10 foot round glass cylinder that is lit from a skylight above. The cylinder is inscribed with a poem that contains sentiments of survivors based on information gathered in interviews by Margo Perin with the relatives, partners, and co-workers of police officers who were lost in the line of duty.

There is also a text in bas relief behind the cylinder on the concrete wall.

Photo Courtesy of SFAC

Photo Courtesy of SFAC

Spiral of Gratitude

Let us turn together in this circle of remembrance as the light shines through our words.
And we lift our gaze toward the sky to honor the men and women who risk their lives in the line of duty.
See their courage gleaming through the glass, spilling through the words of our love.
Band with us to celebrate the beloved behind every star.
Draw on their courage, their strength, their honesty.
Let us raise our heads together into this spiral of memory
to honor the sacrifice that ripples through time, through the generations.
Never do we have the gift of goodbye.
The only choice is to carry on, make our peace.
An object in motion keeps moving forward.
The voices of the fallen echo every day,
their reflection mirrored in the warmth of a smile,
the glint of an eye, the tilt of a head.
The time spent together was too short
and the missing long.
They are the fallen
and we must not fall.
We can move back or forward, upwards or down, but we cannot remain still.
We must rise to protect, as they did.
In their honor we must persist,
turn our pain into compassion,
never forget the man, woman, child they were,
and lift our heads as we ascend toward the light.

While it is difficult to determine the exact cost of the project from public documents, it is clear that is exceeded its $700,000 budget.

Apr 222015

Iris Jazz Club Cuba

Music: breathing of statues.
Silence of paintings.
You language where all language ends.
You time standing vertically
On the motion of mortal hearts.

by poet Rainer Maria Rilke

Iris Jazz Club

 IRIS Jazz Club is a cultural complex located in front of  in the city of Santiago de Cuba. The space, originally a cafeteria, was turned into a jazz club with the specific purpose of promoting jazz in the area.

DSC_2482Santiago de Cuba is celebrating their 500th year in 2015. These bronze panels were the work of Santiago born artist Alberto Lescay’s Caguayo foundation to mark this celebration. The program costs 125,400 Cuba Pesos or approximately $5000US.
DSC_2485A group of about 20 Cuban and German visual artists work with Lescay on the project.

*Iris Jazz Club









*Iris Jazz Club




 Cuba  Comments Off
Apr 222015

Germinal by Euless Nibbles

Eulises Niebla born in 1963 in Matanzas Cuba, studied at the  Escuela Provincial de arte in Matanzas, Cuba from 1975-1979, He then went on to the Escuela Nacional de Arte (ENA) Havana from 1980-1984 and then to the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA). in Havana from 1984-1989

A contemporary Cuban artist Niebla works with industrial materials to create geometric three-dimensional objects, which are then painted in bright colours. These objects have been likened to the forms in children’s playgrounds and belong to an established constructivist tradition in Latin America that pushes the boundaries of the art object and encourages the spectator to participate in the work.

The Caguayo Foundation, created in 1995 is responsible for much of the public art in Santiago de Cuba through an annual symposium. This piece was part of the 2010 symposium.

The piece was titled Germinal, however, that has no meaning.  It is possible that it was a typo, as often happens in these situations, it could be titled Germinal, which means to germinate.