Nov 252014

Mission Branch Library
24th Between Bartlett and Orange Alley
Mission District

Leo Lentelli at the Mission Branch Library

Leo Lentelli was one of San Francisco’s more prolific and well known sculptors during his time.  Sadly very little of his work survives inside of the city. There is a beautiful piece at  the Hunter Dunlin building downtown, and this sculpture over the original entry door on 24th Street of the Mission Branch Library.

Lentelli, an immigrant from Italy spent 1914-1918 in San Francisco.  During that time he did a series of equestrian statues that were part of the Court of the Universe and his sculptures of Water Sprites for the Court of Abundance for the Pan Pacific Exposition

Mission Branch Library San Francisco

Lentelli created “Five Symbolic Figures,” a series of five statues representing Art, Literature, Philosophy, Science and Law, that were placed between the pillars above the entrance to the Old Main Library at Larkin Street. These works, made of cast stone  were installed in 1918, the year after the Library opened, and were not intended to be permanent. Sadakichi Hartmann, writing for the Architecture and Engineer in 1918, praised these works for “their sturdiness of conception and attitude, their decorative expression, and a certain swing and freedom of handling.” To my horror upon learning this, and to the detriment of all, the Asian Art Museum, when taking over and renovating the Library, found that these works had deteriorated so much that no attempt was made to retain or restore them.

From the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection SFPL

From the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection SFPL

Leo Lentelli Sculpture

The Mission Branch Library is part of the group of libraries built in San Francisco with William Carnegie monies, this particular building was built under the design guidelines of the Carnegie Standards.

Carnegie Library in San Francisco Mission District

Nov 172014

San Francisco Zoo
The Parking Lot
Sloat and The Great Highway

Fleishhacker Pool Remnants

This small monument is a remnant of a once great institution of San Francisco, the Fleishhacker Pool.

Photo Courtesy of the SFPL

Photo Courtesy of the SFPL

Fleishhacker Pool, like the San Francisco Zoo was a gift to San Francisco by Herbert Fleishhacker. The idea, conceived by John McLaren, designer of Golden Gate Park, was to help bring athletic competitions to San Francisco.

The first event held at the pool was on April 22, 1925 and featured a freestyle swimmer named Johnny Weissmuller representing the Illinois Athletic Club. Weissmuller appeared several times at Fleishhacker and was a real crowd pleaser.

Photo Courtesy of SFPL

Photo Courtesy of SFPL

The 6, 500,000 gallon, filtered seawater filled pool, opened to the general public on May 1, 1925.  It cost 25 cents for adults and 15 cents for kids under 12.  For that you had use of the the dressing rooms with showers, and the loan of a bathing suit and towel that were sterilized between uses.

The pool had twelve lifeguards and a number of life rowboats.  It also boasted a tree-sheltered beach, a cafeteria, and even child care if you needed it.

The pool, while it existed was the largest in the world.  In 1943 U.S. troops used it to train for amphibious beach assaults.

Photo Courtesy of SFPL

Photo Courtesy of SFPL

Slowly slipping into disrepair the pool suffered its final blow when an outflow pipe collapsed in a 1971 storm, the city was unable to foot the bill for repairs.  The pool closed in June of 1971, and the concrete was broken up and the hole filled with dirt.  The land was granted to the zoo with the intention of adding parking.

Fleishhacker Pool filled in

The pool house however, remained, it was hoped it would become a restaurant.  Sadly it simply became a shelter for vagrants and feral cats.  The pool house caught fire and burned to the ground on December 1, 2012

Fleishhacker Pool Ornamentation

leaving San Francisco with but a remnant of a glorious past.


Nov 102014

155 Sansome Street
Financial District

115 Sansome Street, San Francisco

The sculptures over the Sansome Street entrance to the Pacific Stock Exchange, now the City Club, were done in 1929-1930 by Ralph Stackpole.

Stackpole has been in this website many times before and you can read about him and his work here.

On January 18, 1930 Junius Cravens of the Argonaut wrote of this piece:

“As one studies Stackpole’s fine decorative sculpture group, ‘Progress,’ which overhangs the east entrance to the office building, one finds in it a symbol,whether employed conscious­ly or not, of the aforesaid future. A huge nude male figure, in high relief, dominates the group, his outstretched hands resting upon the arc of a rainbow. Above the rainbow, to the right and left,are stylized suggestions of rain and lightning, symbolizing water and electric power. Be­neath it, and flanking the main figure, are two smaller male figures in low relief which represent progressive labor. The group as a whole is beautifully balanced in design, and is executed with mastery.”

Ralph Stackpole on the City Club of San Francisco







Barnyard Watchdogs

 Zoo  Comments Off
Nov 032014

San Francisco Zoo
Entry to the Children’s Zoo

Bronze Geese statue at SF ZooBarnyard Watchdogs by Burt Brent

This cute sculpture and climbing item is by Dr. Burt Brent. Dr. Brent is a reconstructive plastic surgeon best known for his work in reconstructing the absent outer ear. He has repaired ear defects in 1,800 patients, most of them children born with ear deformities such as Microtia. He also reconstructs ears lost or due to some form of trauma. Dr. Brent is now retired.

Brent grew up in Detroit, Michigan, and was highly influenced by his maternal grandfather who taught him cabinetry and woodworking. Although he considered a career in art, he was always surrounded by medicine, because his father was a physician who had an office in the basement of their home.

Burt Brent Geese at SF Zoo

As an avid naturalist, Brent is a member of the Society of Animal Artists and has created sculptures of numerous of birds and mammals, two of which grace the San Francisco Zoo.

Hearst Grizzly Gulch

 Zoo  Comments Off
Oct 212014

San Francisco Zoo

Grizzly by Tom Shrey


This grizzly by Tom Schrey graces the Hearst Grizzly Gulch building at the SF Zoo.  Tom has a degree from California College of the Arts and presently works at Artworks Foundry.

Hearst Grizzly Gulch Tom Schrey Scultpure


The following was excerpted from a June 15, 2007 SF Gate article by Patricia Yollin:

Three summers ago, two grizzly bear orphans in Montana were trying to fend off starvation. Now they are coddled ursine superstars living in San Francisco.

On Thursday, the public got its first glimpse of the twins’ opulent new home as Hearst Grizzly Gulch, a $3.7 million habitat at the San Francisco Zoo, opened for business. Kachina and Kiona, whose species adorns the California state flag, quickly demonstrated that they knew how to work the Flag Day crowd.

Proximity is one of the exhibit’s highlights. A thick glass window is the only thing separating humans and carnivores in one section of Grizzly Gulch, which also includes a meadow, 20,000-gallon shallow pool, heated rocks, 2-ton tree stump, dig pit, herb garden and 20-foot-high rock structure.

“My initial reaction was, ‘Where are we going to put them?’ ” recalled Manuel Mollinedo, the zoo’s executive director.

SF Zoo Bears

The sisters, now 4 years old, moved into a concrete enclosure that’s part of an old-fashioned bear grotto built in the 1930s. It will serve as night quarters and adjoins the new habitat, the result of a fundraising campaign by Carroll — who said he envisioned an endless series of “$100,000 lunches” before Stephen Hearst, vice president and general manager of the Hearst Corp., set up a $1 million donation.

Hearst was mindful of his family’s connection to grizzlies. His great-grandfather, San Francisco Examiner publisher William Randolph Hearst, arranged for the 1889 capture of a wild grizzly that he named Monarch — his paper’s slogan was “Monarch of the Dailies” — who inspired the creation of the city’s first zoo.

WPA habitat at SF Zoo

The Zoo’s first major exhibits were built in the 1930’s by the depression-era Works Progress Administration (WPA) at a cost of $3.5 million.  The animal exhibits were, in the words of the architect, Lewis Hobart, “ten structures designed to house the animals and birds in quarters as closely resembling native habitats as science can devise.” These new structures included Monkey Island, Lion House, Elephant House, a sea lion pool, an aviary, and bear grottos. These spacious, moated enclosures were among the first bar-less exhibits in the country.

Original Animal enclosures SF Zoo



Bizim Cebish Muellim

 Azerbaijan  Comments Off
Oct 202014

Baku Boulevard
Baku, Azerbaijan

Sculpture of Baku, Azerbaijan

Baku Boulevard is a beautiful walking esplanade on the Caspian Sea that fronts almost the whole of Baku.  There are hundreds of bronze whimsical statues along the boulevard.

This fellow is a character from the Movie “Bizim Cebish Muellim”.

I found no signatures on any of the sculptures and there is no markings anywhere to say who the sculptors were, but it is a divine way to spend the afternoon, strolling and appreciating the quality of public art that defines the boulevard.

sculpture along Baku Boulevard in Azerbaijan

Twelve Beauties

 Azerbaijan  Comments Off
Oct 202014

İçəri Şəhər
Old City or Inner City
Baku Azerbaijan

Twelve Beauties by Nail Alakbarov

This sculpture by Nail Alakbarov cuts along the edges of İçəri Şəhər.  The description that accompanies the sculpture far better explains the situation than I ever can…

This composition represents a sculptural image of seven armudi glasses standing on top of each other. Armudi is the name of traditional Azerbaijanian glass used for drinking tea, it can be translated as “pear-shaped” since it resembles a pear. On the other hand such shape could be associated with the contour of a female body. Thus the glasses also symbolize seven beauties from a similarly named masterpiece written by Nizami Gencevi.

The sculpture is installed in Icheri Sheher among ancient architecture. The aim of this project is to combine a national aspect with the international. As the people of the era of globalization tend to say: “Think global, act local”. In other words the artist provides contemporary art that is cosmo political by definition with a national content. Being a representative of local artistic intelligentsia, the artist is trying to express his concerns about the loss of cultural identity in the countries that have already faced globalization. Though the work is a piece of contemporary art, it still demonstrates a prevailing Eastern-centric vector.

Historical Background

In Azerbaijan, where tea-drinking is widespread, tea is regarded as a symbol of hospitality and respect to guests. Serving tea before the main course is an old tradition. It is a customary to drink tea not from porcelain cups but from special pear-shaped glasses that are called armudu. Their shape resembles a pear with slightly smaller top than the bottom distinguished by a narrow “waistline”.

There are numerous interpretations why these glasses have such an unusual form: it is easy to handle, it resembles a shape of a woman’s body, etc. As a matter of fact, the reason is quite simple: the tea in the bottom section of the glass cools down slower than in the upper one, keeping the temperature of the tea same. Determined by its functionality and beautiful shape armudu is definitely a perfection in terms of design. Every Azerbaijani city, no matter how big or small, has a tea-house. Tea houses play an important role in the social life of the citizens, people discuss news, read newspapers, make plans, play backgammon, maintain relations. Tea is also a very important aspect of the Azerbaijani engagement process. Parents of the bride show their respond to the groom by serving him a tea, if they serve it with sugar it means “yes”, if without – it means “no”.

Nail Alakbarov

This project was sponsored by YARAT! which was founded in 2011 by Aida Mahmudova, YARAT! is a non-commercial, private organisation dedicated to the promotion and nurturing of Azeri Contemporary art nationally and internationally.

Nail Alakbarov graduated from the A.Azimzade School of Art and continued his master’s degree at the Azerbaijan State Academy of Fine Art.

He continued his education at the national French art school École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-arts and in 2012, Alakbarov received his master’s on cinematography at the Lumière University in Lyon.

Oct 202014

5th Avenue between Yamhill and Taylor Streets
Portland, OR

Responsibility of Raising a Child

Along the TriMet route you will find this 2004 bronze buy Rick Bartow. Rick Bartow weaves Native American symbols of parenting and life cycles throughout The Responsibility of Raising a Child. The sculpture started out expressing the difficult circumstances of single parents, but by placing the infant in the basket it becomes a hopeful, encouraging and optimistic work.

Rick Bartow


TriMet sculptures in Portland

Rick Bartow was born in 1946 in Newport, Oregon to a Yurok and Wiyot father who relocated to Oregon for work and married Bartow’s Euro-American mother. His artwork is influenced not only by his Native American heritage, but also by the effects of a thirteen-month tour of duty in Vietnam. He graduated from Western Oregon University in 1969 with a degree in Secondary Art Education, prior to being drafted into the Army.

Bartow is highly prolific working in sculpture, print, etching, monotype, ceramics, mixed media, and painting.

Public Art in Portland OR

Public Art in Portland OR

Bartow is currently working on a permanent outdoor installation for the Smithsonian Institute-National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC.


*Rick Bartow


 Portland  Comments Off
Oct 202014

Along NorthWest Davis Street
Portland, OR

Nepenthes by Dan Corson

These amazing structures are by Seattle based artist Dan Corson and are titled Nepenthes.  There are four of them along NorthWest Davis Street ,each standing 17 feet tall covered in photo-voltaic cells.  The elements glow at night.

Nepenthes, named after the magical greek potion that eliminates sorrow and suffering.

From an article by DesignBoom: By referencing the patterns of Oregon native vegetation and other carnivorous plants and inserting a quirky expression of nature into an urban environment, these sculptures celebrate historic Chinatown’s unique and diverse community. The structures are created out of robust layers of translucent fiberglass with embedded with LED lights wrapping around a steel spine. a custom created solar panel on top energizes the batteries, and also allows circular shadows to back-light the tops of the sculptures in the daytime. Each sculpture is physically identical, yet they all have a unique translucent color and patterning that gives each piece its own distinctive personality. From an urban planning perspective, the project was designed to increase pedestrian connectivity between two important neighborhoods. The project was funded by TriMet and managed by the Regional Arts & Culture Council and is now a part of the city of Portland’s public art collection.

Giant Photovoltaic Flowers in Portland Oregon

According to Corson’s website:

Dan Corson’s Artwork straddles the disciplines of Art, Theatrical Design, Architecture, Landscape Architecture and sometimes even Magic. His projects have ranged from complex rail stations and busy public intersections to quiet interpretive buildings, meditation chambers and galleries. With a Masters Degree in Art from the University of Washington and a BA in Theatrical Design from San Diego State University, Corson’s work is infused with drama, passion, layered meanings and often engages the public as co-creators within his environments.

Photo courtesy of Dan Corson wesbiste

Photo courtesy of Dan Corson wesbiste

Burls will be Burls

 Portland  Comments Off
Oct 202014

6th Avenue between Burnside and Ash
Portland, OR

Bruce Conkle, Portland OR

According to the TriMet website:

Burls Will be Burls, by Bruce Conkle, is a tribute to snowmen and to the forests of the Pacific Northwest. The cast bronze figures of Burls Will be Burls represent what might happen when a snowman melts and nourishes a living tree—water is absorbed by the roots and carries the spirit of the snowman up into the tree where it manifests itself as burls.

TriMet, Portland OR Public Art, Bruce Conkle

According to Conkle’s own website:

Bruce Conkle declares an affinity for mysterious natural phenomenon such as snow, crystals, volcanos, rainbows, fire, tree burls, and meteorites. His work combines art and humor to address contemporary attitudes toward nature and the environment, including deforestation and climate change. Conkle’s work often deals with man’s place within nature, and frequently examines what he calls the “misfit quotient” at the crossroads. His work has shown around the world, including Reykjavik, Ulaanbaatar, Rio De Janeiro, New York, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami, Seattle, and Portland. Recent projects include public art commissions for the Oregon Department of Transportation, TriMet/MAX Light Rail, and Portland State University’s Smith Memorial Student Union Public Art + Residency. In 2011 Bruce received a Hallie Ford Fellowship and in 2010 and an Oregon Arts Commission Artist Fellowship. His 2012 show Tree Clouds was awarded a project grant from the Regional Arts and Culture Council.

Burls will be Burls