Jul 282014

Heron’s Head Park
Evans and Jennings
Bay View / Hunter’s Point

Heron's Head Park EcoCenter Sculpture

Heron’s Head Park was “born” in the early 1970s, when the Port began filling the bay to construct what was to be the Pier 98 shipping terminal. The terminal construction never materialized, and the peninsula remained undeveloped.

Heron's Head Park Pier 98

Over years of settlement and exposure to the tides, a salt marsh emerged, attracting shorebirds, waterfowl and aquatic wildlife. In the late 1990s, with funding from the City and County of San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, the Port, the California Coastal Conservancy and the San Francisco Bay Trail Project, the Port undertook a major renovation of Pier 98.

Pier 98 SF

The project enhanced and expanded the marsh by removing over 5,000 tons of concrete, asphalt, metal and other debris, created a tidal channel to improve circulation, and constructed upland trails, picnic and bird-viewing areas and a fishing pier. In 1999, the former Pier 98 officially reopened to the public as Heron’s Head Park, named for its resemblance – when viewed from the air – to one of its residents: the Great Blue Heron.

Heron’s Head Park is now used for education and recreation by thousands of walkers, bird-watchers, students, and visitors from around the City and the Greater Bay area, and more than 100 bird species each year.

Heron's Head Park Hunters Point

The sculpture was created by Macchiarini Creative Design.  

Macchiarini studio and gallery was founded by Peter Macchiarini and his wife Virginia.  Upon Peter’s death the studio was taken over by his son Daniel, and now, his daughter Emma Macchiarini Mankin

Daniel started basic Metal Arts & Sculpture Training 1962-1970, with his father, Peter Macchiarini. He  studied at S.F. State University (1971-73) Arts Major Honor Society, Pottery, Painting, Life Drawing, Glass and Bronze Foundry course work.

Heron's Head Park Eco CenterMacchiarini Studios worked with The Literacy for Environmental Justice (LEJ) group on this project.   LEJ’s youth employment program trains paid interns to work on local issues relating to environmental health and food security. The interns bring a youth voice to neighborhood projects such as redevelopment of a naval shipyard Superfund site—the largest redevelopment project in the history of San Francisco.

Daniel Marrichiani Metal Sculptor

Jul 212014

1351 24th Avenue
Outer Sunset

Henri Marie-Rose sculpture at SFDPH

This travesty sits in front of the San Francisco Department of Public Health Building.

Sailor and Mermaid

The only photograph I could find was through the Smithsonian Institute.

Sailor and Mermaid by Henri Marie-Rose

The sculpture, titled Sailor and Mermaid, originally was made of copper sheets, cut, pounded, and welded, with bronze. It sits on a concrete pad. It was done in 1970 by Henry Marie-Rose.

Marie-Rose, who died in 2010, has been in this blog before with work both on a fire station in the financial district and about his work as a teacher.  His death makes this even more tragic as it is now absolutely irreplaceable.

Henri Marie-RosePhoto from the Potrero View

There is absolutely no excuse for this piece to be in this state, especially as it sits in front of a San Francisco government building. The San Francisco Art Commission, which is the owner of the piece, has a lot to answer for.

Jul 152014

Lining the 200 Block of Stevenson Street
Off of 3rd near Market

 Locks and Keys for Harry Bridges

Locks and Keys For Harry Bridges was commissioned by Millennium Partners/ WGB Ventures Inc and the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency.  The piece is by artist Mildred Howard, who has been in this site before. 

Howard is known for her sculptural installations and mixed media assemblage work, Mildred Howard has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Adeline Kent Award from the San Francisco Art Institute, the Joan Mitchell Foundation and a fellow-ship from the California Arts Council.

When Howard was asked how she came by the image of a key and lock for the project, she answered that she was inspired by Harry Bridges as he opened up doors and that her locks are open to reflect that.

Locks and Keys for Harry BridgesHarry Bridges (July 28, 1901–March 30, 1990) was an Australian-born American union leader, in the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), which he helped form and led for over 40 years. He was prosecuted by the U.S. government during the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. His conviction by a federal jury for having lied about his Communist Party membership was overturned by the Supreme Court in 1953.

Locks and Keys for Harry Bridges




Mildred Howard

Jul 072014

Mason and O’Farrell Streets
Union Square

O'Farrell Mason Street Garage San Francisco

The construction of the Downtown Center Garage, now the Mason O’Farrell Garage,  harkens back to when the automobile was king.

San Francisco now has a Transit First Policy which specifically gives priority to public transit and other alternatives to the private automobile as the means of meeting San Francisco’s transportation needs.  Essentially this means that this garage would never have been built in today’s times.

Built in 1953, and situated between Union Square and the then vital theater district,  is was meant to augment the Union Square Parking Garage and contained 1,200 parking stalls.

Architecture of San Francisco

 The Downtown Center Garage is nine-levels and constructed of reinforced-concrete. Pairs of circular, spiral ramps extend up from the basement to the roof at the southeast corner of the building. The concrete slabs and walls bear the impressions of plywood board forms and the columns of the Sono-tube forms used to create them. The circular ramps are expressed on the exterior of the building as curved and slightly inclined slabs that spiral upward, helix-like, toward the roof. Thin, tubular steel railings wrap around the perimeter of the slabs, providing protection to users as well as a modern decorative motif.

Architect and Engineer Magazine 1950's San Francisco

The structure, featured in the 1955 Architect and Engineer was designed by George Applegarth (1875-1972).

Applegarth, born in Oakland, was a student of Bernard Maybeck, who encouraged him to train at the Ecoles des Beaux-Arts.

Applegarth’s most famous works were under the commission of Alma de Bretteville Spreckles.  He designed both the Spreckles Mansion and the Palace of the Legion of Honor for Alma.

In 1921 and 1922, Applegarth was President of the San Francisco Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. During the 1920′s he had begun to make plans for the parking garage that now stands under Union Square, the project was eventually given to Timothy Pflueger and not completed until 1942.  In 1952, he started researching double-spiral ramp, multi-story, self-parking structures which gave us one of his last major projects in San Francisco, the Downtown Center Garage.

Architecture in San FranciscoA shot from the 1955 Architect and Engineer.  Notice the lack of safety equipment.

Parking Garages of San FranciscoFrom the 1955 Architect and Engineer Magazine

The shopping strip along the exterior of the building was added sometime in the 1980′s.

Jul 022014

116 New Montgomery
South of Market

San Francisco's Rialto Building

I became intrigued with this building when a friend showed me this Black and White photo in the lobby of the Rialto.

SF Earthquake Rialto Building

(Note: the round building on the left is the Crossley building)

The Rialto is an eight-story H-shaped plan with center light courts.  It has a steel frame clad in brick and terra cotta. The eighth story is highly ornamented. The façade accommodated the lack of interior partition walls by providing a large space between the window mullions. This allowed partitions to be erected between the windows once floors were leased.  Since the interior lacked dividing partition walls, tenants could rent large floor areas that could be configured according to their needs.

The Rialto Building SF Originally constructed in 1902, it was reconstructed in 1910 after the 1906 Earthquake and Fire. The original 1902 building façade was maintained. The 1910 reconstruction consisted primarily of structural improvements.

Rialto Building SF Interior

In 1902, during the 20th century building boom, Herbert Law financed construction of the Rialto Building, as well as the Crossley Building.  The Rialto was named after a commercial center in Venice, Italy, a rialto is an exchange or mart.

Law hired the architectural firm of Meyer & O’Brien. Meyer & O’Brien, who despite only operating between 1902 and 1908, were prolific in the Financial District, designing some of San Francisco’s most prominent buildings, including the Monadnock Building, 637-687 Market Street (1906); the Humboldt Bank Building, 793- 785 Market Street (1906); the Hastings Building, 180 Post Street (1908); the Foxcroft Building, 68-82 Post Street (1908); and the Cadillac Hotel, 380 Eddy Street (1909).

Photo from Meyer & O'Brien lobby. Exact date not determined.

Photo from Meyer & O’Brien lobby. Exact date not determined.

Front of the Rialto Building in San FraciscoTerra Cotta work by Steiger Terra Cotta and Pottery Works

After the 1906 Fire and Earthquake Bliss & Faville was hired to supervise the reconstruction of the Rialto Building, as Meyer & O’Brien were no longer architectural partners and Bliss & Faville had gained prominence. Bliss & Faville was among the most established architectural firms in San Francisco during the reconstruction period after the Earthquake and Fire.


In June 1910, the San Francisco Call newspaper ran this article:

“The reconstruction of the old Rialto building at the corner of Mission and New Montgomery streets has begun. Dr. Hartland Law, the owner, is preparing to spend about $500,000 in rebuilding it on a handsomer plan than the original structure. The old building was erected in 1901 at a cost of $650,000.

The great fire left it a complete wreck. The walls have stood, but the steel frame was so bent and twisted most of it has had to be taken out. New steel columns have been put in from basement to roof. All the steel is being fireproofed with cement this time, instead of with terra cotta, as previously. The fireproof flooring is already in on the two upper stories. All the reconstruction work will be of class A quality throughout. The outer brick work will be cleaned and treated in some way to brighten it up and make it look like an entirely new building. The corridors will be wainscoted with marble and will have a flooring of mosaic tiling. They will be wider and brighter than in the old building. The woodwork of the building will be of oak. Metal doors probably will be put in. Special attention is being paid to the plumbing equipment. There will be a vacuum cleaning system and compressed air supplied to all the offices. There will be four high speed elevators, the contract for putting them in having already been let. The light, heat and power for the building will be supplied from a plant being constructed on a lot adjoining the main building. A special feature will be equipment for sterilizing water for drinking purposes. After the heating process it will be cooled and distributed to every suite in the building by faucets. In this and other ways Doctor Low [sic] has studiously endeavored to make the new building thoroughly modern and up to date in every particular. McDonald & Kahn have general engineering charge of the whole reconstruction work and are letting all the contracts. Bliss & Faville are the architects.”

September 1906

September 1906

When the work on the Rialto Building was complete, the project was lauded as the building that restored faith in the City. The Rialto Building had been the feature of numerous newspaper articles during the reconstruction period because of its location and because the building shell had remained intact and highly visible.

Jun 302014

982 Market Street
The side of the Warfield Theater

Clare Rojas on Market Street

This piece, finished in May of this year (2014), was done by Clare Rojas (who has been in this website before), along with the 509 Cultural Center.

Public Art in San Francisco

The mural was sponsored, to the tune of $40,000, by the Walter and Elise Hass Fund.

Thanks to the Creative Work Fund, I was able to find this photo of the work in progress, as well as an explanation of the piece.

The Luggage Store Art“The proposed mural will be a natural outgrowth of Rojas’s earlier work, which was overtly feminist and employed surreal or unreal figures in a narrative intent. She plans to re-integrate symbolic figures within a large-scale abstract composition for the mural.”

Clare Rojas and her mural on the Warfield Theater on Market Street in  San Francisco

Due to the height of the building, the mural is easy to spot from many parts of town.  Due to the historic nature of the Warfield, the mural will only be up for one year.

Jun 232014

4th and Folsom
South of Market

Randy Colosky SOMA San Francisco

This piece, sponsored by the SFAC, is by Randy Colosky. It is titled Ellipses in the Key of Blue.

Elipses in the Key of Blue

According to Randy’s Website: Ellipses is the Key of Blue is 140 ft. long x 8 ft. tall, digitally printed and drawing mounted on plywood.

Randy Colosky SFAC Subway

According to the sign on the wall next to the piece: Ellipsis in the Key of Blue is a temporary mural by Randy Colosky commissioned for the construction barricade at the site of the upcoming Central Subway Yerba Buena/Moscone Station.  Colosky has worked in the building trades and is interested in the formal by products of the construction process.  The imagery for this mural was crated with drafting templates used in mechanical drawing.  Through repetition the template pattern becomes visually sculptural as it incrementally shifts, revealing how small movements make up a much larger gesture.


The drafting template offers an interesting scenario in that it is a fixed pattern. Like fractals repeating in nature, the template pattern (as it is incrementally moved in the act of drawing) generates its own algorithm. According to the artist, “this fixed algorithm takes the decision making out of my hands as to the ultimate composition, which makes the drawing process more of a meditative execution of the piece.”

I personally thought it looked just like my screen when I win a game of spider solitaire.  It is really and truly mesmerizing.

4th and Folsom Mural

It is a bit tough to shoot as the surface is very, very shiny.

serpent mural in SOMARandy is an Oakland based artist.  He received his BFA in ceramics from the Kansas City Art Institute.

Mural on the construction lot at 4th and folsom

The Central Subway is a line being built connecting ATT Park with Chinatown, going through SOMA and Union Square,  a distance of 1.7 miles at a cost of  $1.578 billion. The project is funded primarily through the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts program. In October 2012, the FTA approved a Full Funding Grant Agreement, the federal commitment of funding through New Starts, for the Central Subway for a total amount of $942.2 million. The Central Subway is also funded by the State of California, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority and the City and County of San Francisco.

The three stops, this one in SOMA, Union Square and Chinatown, all are large construction sites at this time, if you are a visitor to San Francisco, that is what is happening, and will for several more years.

Randy Colosky


The SFAC funding was accomplished with Resolution number 0603-13-151: Motion to authorize the Director of Cultural Affairs to enter into an agreement with Randy Colosky for an amount not to exceed $25,000 to design artwork imagery and create production files for the Central Subway: Construction Barricade Temporary Art Public Art Project for Yerba Buena/Moscone Station, which will be on display for one year from approximately mid-2013 through mid-2014.

Jun 172014

Entrada Court
Ingleside Terrace

 Ingleside Terrace Sundial

What is now Ingleside Terraces was the southwestern most portion of San Miguel Rancho, bordered on the west by Rancho Laguna de la Merced. Rancho Laguna de la Merced and San Miguel Rancho were apparently the last of the Mexican “ranchos” to be incorporated in what we now know as San Francisco.

The Sundial at Ingleside Terrace

The sundial was dedicated on October 10, 1913, with a rather spectacular event attended by 1500 people.  According to the dedication brochure:  “The ceremony attending the dedication of the sundial at Ingleside Terraces was one of rare delight.  It took place at the close of a warm, vivid day in the fall of the year.  The sun had gone down into the ocean, leaving the sky all crimson and gold.  The air was soft and still and heavily scented with the fragrant breath of flowers.  Far away beyond the grassy stretches of the Terraces the sea reflected the glory of the sunset, and one might easily imagine himself in an old garden on the shore of the Mediterranean. ”

Sundial in San Francisco

“The sundial and the four columns surrounding it were veiled and loomed shapeless against a rippling background of flowerbeds…”

Corinthian Column on Entrada CourtThere were originally four columns upon which sat the four classic orders of column capitals and then an urn.  The Corinthian column urn represented manhood, autumn, and afternoon

Sundial on Entrada CourtThe urn atop the Ionic Column represented youth, summer and noon. The Tuscan Column urn represented old age, winter and night and

Doric Column at Urbano Sundialthe Doric  urn shows, childhood, springtime and morning. (Photo courtesy of www.SFog.us, as I failed to recognize it in its absolute simplicity while there)

Sundial on Entrada Court

The sundial was installed by the Urban Realty Improvement Company to lure buyers to its Ingleside Terraces development. The 148-acre residence park offered a lawn tennis court, a clubhouse for social gatherings and about 750 houses priced from $6,000 to $20,000.

The sundial stands 26 feet high and 28 feet across.  The sundial was first promoted as “the largest and most magnificent sundial in the world,” but that is no longer true, not even in San Francisco . A sundial in Hunters Point that has been written up in this website and you can read about here, has a gnomon (the triangular piece that casts the shadow) that is 78 feet long, nearly triple the length of Ingleside’s.

The residential area was originally the Ingleside Race Track.  The race track was dedicated in 1895, but when the 1906 earthquake struck the owner offered the site as a refugee camp for survivors and the track never saw a race again.

Ingleside Terrace Sundial on Entrada Court

In the original brochure this was called Sundial Park and it was designed by Joseph A. Leonard.  The brochure described the park like this: “The gigantic granite gnomon of the sundial at Ingleside Terraces…bridges a limpid pool wherein two bronze seals sport at the base of a fountain…four great heart-shaped plots of grass surrounded by walks point one each to the true south, north, east and west.  At intermediate points four beautiful columns… surmounted by a bronze vase upon which, in bas-relief, is told by allegorical figures the story of the four stages of man, the four seasons of the year, and the four periods of the day.”

Ingleside Terraces Original Map

I have also found reference to this Sundial as the Urbano Sundial, I assume because Urbano Road essentially was paved over the course of the race track.


Jun 092014

San Francisco Flower Market
6th and Brannan


With the face of San Francisco changing so very rapidly right now, I thought I would take a look at a block of buildings that has been a stalwart in the South of Market area serving an single industry, the San Francisco Flower Market.  There are only 5 grower owned Flower Markets in the United States, and San Francisco is privileged to have one of those.

San Francisco FLower Mart

A coalition of three ethnic groups founded the organizations that began the early San Francisco Flower Mart. Italian growers started the San Francisco Flower Growers Association; Japanese growers founded the California Flower Market, Inc.; and Chinese growers ran the Peninsula Flower Association. Each group brought its flower growing expertise and individual personalities to the mix. When they joined collectively in 1926, the flower industry in San Francisco changed forever. Today, two of the original stockholders operate the Mart. These stockholders are members of the California Flower Market and the San Francisco Flower Growers Association.

San Francisco Flower Mart

Darold Fredricks of the Daily Journal wrote an excellent history of the Flower Market some of which I have excerpted it here:

Before 1900, a unofficial flower market sprung up on Market Street around Lotta’s Fountain. There was a transportation system in place with the trolley cars on Market Street and others that converged in this area. Twice a week, the growers and retailers met between Lotta’s Fountain and Podesta and Baldocchi flower shop at 7 a.m. and inspection of the blooms were made, deals from buyers consummated and demand gauged for the shops.

Flower Vendors Downtown San Francisco

All went well until the 1906 earthquake. Because of the increasing number of growers that sprung up down the Peninsula and the problem of keeping the area clear of large crowds, the flower market was banned from the Lotta’s Fountain area and they had to find another site at which to gather. They found a place between Montgomery and Kearny streets. This site was indoors.

Kearny Street Flower Vendors

Due to the destruction of many buildings and the rapidly developing market for flowers, the three main ethnic groups of growers — Italians, Japanese and Chinese — developed their own market locations. The Italians grew field variety of flowers and ferns; the Chinese raised outdoor pompons and asters; and the Japanese specialized in greenhouse-grown flowers, chrysanthemums, roses and carnations. These groups felt they could find adequate space for their wholesale market they split up. The Italians started the San Francisco Flower Growers Association, the Japanese growers founded The California Flower Market, Inc., and the Chinese ran the Peninsula Flower Growers Association. They nevertheless remained close to the Kearny/Market Street vicinity.

Old Time Shots of Flower Selling in Downtown San Francisco

The growers met with increasing resistance by developers in the city as land became too valuable for only plots of flowers. With a surplus of land available down the Peninsula, groups began planting swaths of land around Millbrae and San Mateo. The San Francisco Water Department rented land in Millbrae and the Cozzolinos and Betrocchis, the Ludemanns , DelDons and a few others purchased growing land to meet the challenge of the increasing market. The Mock family settled in San Bruno and the Leong family in San Mateo.

In 1924, however the three groups relocated to large central complex at Fifth and Howard streets.

In 1956, the organization of growers moved to a new building at the corner of Sixth and Brannan streets. Here there was room for 100 vendors in the 135,000 square feet of space.   

This is a fun video, made in the 1970′s, of the flower market.

In 2007 there was a lot of scuttlebutt about the closing of the flower mart,  Amy Stewart, author of Flower Confidential commented, “This isn’t the ’50s or ’60s. No one wears corsages or orders a centerpiece for a dinner party from the florist down the street,” Stewart said. “People buy their flowers at Costco, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s”, only time will tell.

Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 8.33.08 AM

This story was an adjunct of a friend asking me about a little fellow on the exterior of the building.  Ron Chiappari at the Flower Mart and Kim Hernandez of McClellan Botanicals (where my grandmother bought her orchids, as do I) have both been very helpful in my quest to determine who he is and why he is in the sidewalk on Brannan street, alas, no one knows why.  If you have any information, please contact me.. the mystery continues.

Armadillo on Brannan Street


May 262014

Foundry Square
1st and Howard

Foundry Square, San Francisco

These two sculptures are by Thomas Houseago.  The standing is titled Boy III and the one laying is Sleeping Boy.  These are both white coated bronze.

Thomas Houseago Boy IIIPhoto Courtesy of the San Francisco Planning Commission

Sleeping Boy by Thomas Houseago

This information about the artist comes from the San Francisco Planning Commission.

Thomas Houseago was born in Leeds, England in 1972. In 1989 he received a grant to attend a local art school called the Jacob Kramer Foundation College, and later continued his studies at Central St. Martin’s College of Art in London. After finishing college in London, Houseago attended De Ateliers in Amsterdam, after which he worked in Brussels for several years until 2004 when he moved to Los Angeles with his wife Amy Bessone.

Although Houseago had previously shown his work in Europe, his art has gone largely unrecognized in the United States until 2007 when a collector from Miami purchased eights of his sculptures. In 2008, Houseago had his first solo show in the United States titled Serpent, at the Los Angeles based David Kordansky Gallery. Houseago was inspired for that showing by Virgil’s The Aeneid and the Hellenistic masterwork Laocoon and His Sons.

Thomas Houseago draws inspiration for his art from the past, in particular the myths of Ancient Greece. He portrays the human body with the abstraction of the modern era, while rejecting the late-modernist notion of the purity of materials. His intense and impatient personality is reflected in his art, which tends to be rough and crude at times. Houseago is drawn towards materials like plaster because of his ability to heap it on to his sculptures with little precision. These particular works, Boy III and Sleeping Boy, are cast bronze with a white patina finish, a new medium for Houseago.

Thomas Houseago Boy II

Thomas Houseago’s sculptures advance a psychological hold over their viewers through a highly evolved artistic language that embodies multiple contradictions: his works are simultaneously three dimensional and flat; sculpture and drawing; sharply angular and bulbous. They exude menacing strength whilst at the same time conveying vulnerability. Their rough surfaced forms seem inchoate, yet sophisticated, to be strangely autonomous: they are empty and yet alive.

Houseago has described himself as a realist. His concern, more than with the appearance of his sculptures, is to impart a sense of anima into the works: “As a sculptor, I am trying to put thought and energy into an inert material and give it truth and form” he has said. His sculptures reject the ironic re-workings of readymade vocabularies so prevalent in contemporary art in favor of a deeply individual reckoning with matter. His influences are the heavyweight sculptors of Western art— Picasso, Brancusi, Rodin, Moore and Michaelangelo can all be felt in his art, but his work equally draws from the everyday art forms of music, cartoons and movies: “I see Modernist art through the lens of pop culture, not the other way around.”


The process of making is extremely evident in Houseago’s sculptures. Materials such as plaster, iron rebar, hemp fiber and un- treated wood exert a raw physicality, and their rough forms reveal the actions that have made them. In Sleeping Boy and Boy III, bronze sculptures that arrest the plasticity of clay, the molding process has left each body part riven, with no attempt made by the artist to smooth over the joins or to fill in the hollows of their forms. Houseago’s sculpture is wantonly unrefined. His limbs emphasize their fragmentation rather than the humanist concerns of his art historical forbearers. In both works, Houseago draws broadly on Classical sculpture, seeing them through his own, unique vision. Boy III reaches back through time to refer to the kouroi, the proto-classical representations of male youths that emerged in ancient Greece. But the pose of Houseago’s youngster is informed less by those Archaic Period sculptures than the struts of fashion and pornographic photography, one arm looped behind the head, the other jutting so that its hand is on a hip.

Thomas Houseago Sleeping Boy at Storm KingSleeping Boy by Thomas Houseago at StormKing

The Financial Times did a very detailed article about Houseago and his creative process with some very informative photographs.  You can read the article here.

Thomas Houseago Sleeping BoyPhoto Courtesy of San Francisco Planning Commission

Sleeping Boy by Thomas Houseago

The two planted walls behind the sculptures at Foundry Square are 27 feet in height. One of the walls is “hedge-like” while the other is  a multitude of different colored leafage. The firm of  SWA is the landscape architect. “The original idea was to consolidate the open space for all four buildings in a single plaza. The four corner bosques soften the intersection and create open space.”