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



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

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

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

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

Oct 202014

Southwest 6th Avenue and Pine Street
Portland, OR

Lee Kelly Fountain, Portland Oregon

Oregon artist Lee Kelly, often referred to as “Oregon’s Sculptor” won an international competition to design this sculpture “Untitled.”  In this work, water flows over several 20-foot-tall steel structures.

Born in rural McCall in central Idaho, Kelly was raised near Riggins, Idaho.  In the 1950s he graduated from what is now Portland State University before joining the United States Air Force. During the late 1950s he attended Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon. He presently lives in Oregon City, Oregon.



Oct 202014

Southwest 6th Avenue and Stark
Portland, OR

Talos Number 2 by James Lee Hanson

 Titled Talos Number 2 this bronze sculpture is by James Lee Hanson.

“Talos No. 2  is part of the Portland Transit Mall. It was completed during 1959–1977, and was funded by TriMet and the United States Department of Transportation.  The abstract sculpture depicts Talos, the giant man of bronze in Greek mythology who protected Crete from invaders.  The piece is 7 feet tall and  is administered by the Regional Arts & Culture Council, which offers the following description of Talos and the sculpture he inspired:

“He had one vain running from his neck to his ankle which flowed with lead, a sacred fluid believed to be the blood of the gods. This sculpture transforms the mythic figure into an abstracted form. Rather than mimicking the monumentality of the character, Kelly invokes him though this vaguely human but altogether otherworldly creature that seems to take in its surroundings from three directions at once, acting as a guardian to those who pass by”

Portland Oregon Public Art, Talos Number 2

James Lee Hansen was born in 1925 and graduated from the Portland Art Museum School in 1950.  He has spent a great time of his adult life as a teacher of Sculpture:
1964-1990 Professor in Sculpture, Portland State University, Portland, OR
1967 Instructor in Sculpture, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
1958-196 Fine Arts Collaborative, architectural art and art in public places
1958 Instructor in Sculpture, University of California, Berkeley
1957-1958 Instructor in Sculpture, Oregon State University, Corvallis



Oct 152014

San Francisco Zoo
In Front of the California Grizzly Exhibit

California Grizzly at the San Francisco Zoo

This Grizzly sculpture is by Scientific Art Studio.  From their website:

We are designers, sculptors, painters, welders, builders, crafters, fabricators, and – above all – dreamers. We live to see the world through new eyes, to laugh and play like children, and to explore boldly and fearlessly. We push boundaries and relish challenges.

For the past 33 years Scientific Art Studio has been the design and fabrication studio pushing the envelope of the latest fabrication techniques and bringing beautiful to everything we do. Under Ron Holythuysen’s creative direction, our multi-talented team has designed and built engaging exhibits, themed environments, immersive playgrounds, and engineered icons around the world.

Scientific Art Studio SF Zoo


Originaly sculpted and cast for an outdoor trail exhibit the bear statue was recast and placed in the interpretive center of Hearst Grizzly Gulch.

Hearst Grizzly Gulch


Recognized as the California state mammal and the symbol of the California state flag, the grizzly bear is now extinct in the state. Between 1800 and 1975, the grizzly bear population in the lower 48 states decreased from 50,000 to less than 1,000. The decline can be attributed to human development, livestock depredation control, commercial trapping and unregulated hunting.

Oct 042014

San Francisco Zoo
Mother’s Building

murals at sf zoo

These murals, on the Mother’s Building at the San Francisco Zoo were WPA projects.  They were done by three sisters: Esther Bruton, Helen Bruton and Margaret Bruton.

Helen Bruton has murals in downtown San Francisco that you can read about here.

Here is an excerpt explaining the sisters work on the Zoo murals in their own voices:

This Oral history interview with Helen and Margaret Bruton, 1964 Dec. 4, is from the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Interview with Helen and Margaret Bruton
Conducted by Lewis Ferbrache
In Monterey, California
December 4, 1964

LF: All right, Margaret and Helen, about the Fleishhacker Mother’s House mosaics – you were mentioning Anthony Falcier and how you learned from him.

HB: Yes, he was actually, at the time, a tile-setter in Alameda, but he was a thoroughly-trained mosaicist from his early days in the old country. He used to tell us how he came over here. He came over here to work on the courthouse in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, which evidently had a mosaic top. And then he came out to San Francisco, to join a group of Italian workmen who were doing the mosaics down at San Simeon for the Hearst Castle. Since then, we ran across another man who worked in that same crew, several in fact. In fact, I think there was one on the WPA whose name I can’t remember. But if it hadn’t been for Mr. Falcier, I don’t know what we would have done, because he gave us pointers that we would have been quite helpless without. About how to set up the drawing, how to reverse it, how to divide it in sections in such a way that when the actual mosaic was mounted on the wall – which was an operation that began from the bottom and worked up –the section that you were mounting was square enough in shape so that it didn’t sag or settle too badly at one side or another, and begin to throw the thing out of wack. Because everybody that saw us working always had the same expression. “”Oh, that’s just like working a jig-saw puzzle.’’ Well, it was a little like a jig-saw puzzle on a big scale.

Bruton Sisters Tile Murals

LF: What were the sizes of these tiles, did you say?

HB: Well, the material that we used – as I said we couldn’t get any – there was no such thing as getting “smalti,” which is hand-cut Venetian enamel material. We used for the material some commercial tile that was manufactured at that time in San Jose, California, by a small tile outfit called Solon & Schennell, or the S&S Tile Company. They made a beautiful commercial tile, too beautiful to be very successful as commercial tile, because they couldn’t really satisfy the jobbers, who insisted on a perfect match to every lot of tile, which they had catalogued by number. There was so much variation in their tile that there was a great deal of waste from a practical commercial standpoint. And the tile that we used was mostly that tile that was what they would call a second, because of the variation. We had names for these tile colors, one was called St. Francis, and St. Francis varied in color all the way from deep Mars violet to a fawn color almost, or a strong ochre color, warm ochre, but it was the same glaze, depending on where it was put in the kiln it would come – that would be the range of shades.

LF: Different shading?

HB: Yes. And it was very, very strong, very good body to the tile, except that it was so tough that before we could even cut it up in smaller pieces, use any kind of tools on it, we had to have the thickness reduced by about half. And the way we did that was, we took it to a marble works over in Berkeley, over in Emeryville, really, on the waterfront there in the industrial section, and they would mount the tile on slabs of marble set in plaster of Paris, glazed side protected of course, with the bottom side up, and rub about half of it off. Then it would come in a workable thickness. And poor Len sawed it, used to saw it in strips of about three-quarters to an inch in width. And from then on we could cut it into any size we wanted, with some good strong tile nippers. Except that there was a difficulty in setting it up, finally because of the very absorbent terra cotta back, which drew the water out. When the cement coat was put on the back of the tile, it sucked the water out unless the terra cotta was dampened beforehand. So we always had the problem, when it came to mounting it on the wall finally, of dampening the back without making it so damp that the surface, which was eventually to be the fact of the decoration, would be still kept dry enough to hold on to the paper. And we did. It just made it a little bit more complicated in the process. But it was in the mounting that Mr. Falcier was so valuable. He’d come over with us from Alameda every day. I think it took us about almost a week for each one – five days for each panel. And he’d actually mix the concrete, the mortar. Esther was helping me on that. I don’t know where Marge was, and Len, I don’t remember Len being there. It is funny, but he must not have been with us when we were actually working with Falcier. But anyway, Mr. Falcier would mount a certain amount face out – you see the paper would still be stuck on the face – and each day we’d move up so much. We might set eight or nine pieces, depending on the way the design built up, the sections built up.

LF: You would have your cartoons to go by, I would imagine?

HB: Yes.

LF: Did all three of your get together on the selection of the subject matter, the topics? Did you talk it over between the three of you?

HB: Oh, I suppose we did.

LF: Or what it suggested by the City or –?

HB: I think it was, not – as a matter of fact, I think that particular thing was pretty much my job of designing. Somebody else, probably Esther or Margaret might have suggested the subject matter actually, but I remember it was a matter of – I remember hardly doing more than one sketch of that, especially St. Francis. I think I put it down and that was it. Of course, there was more work put on it as you got to getting it full size, but I think that first sketch, which was rather unusual for me because the more work I did the more fooling around that I do in design, and maybe not really improving it.

Bruton Sisters Interview

LF: You had to submit the design or the sketches to Dr. Heil or someone in his office?

HB: Yes, and then of course, you’d bring in a sketch and a proposal of what material was to be used.

LF: Did you estimate your time and what you needed?

HB: Oh no, you couldn’t possibly, because we’d never done such a thing before. But I don’t remember that it took, I’m afraid that I couldn’t say exactly how many months it took, whether we were two months on it, or three months, or whether – considering both the panels, we might have been perhaps three months.

LF: This was the first work done in the building?

HB: I think Helen Forbes and Dorothy Puccinelli were working at the same time. In fact, I know they were. But we were not there anything like – that project continued for a long, long time, but of course we didn’t actually have to work out there at the building until it came to installing the panels.

LF: I see. Where did you do your work then?

HB: At home in Alameda.

LF: In Alameda, that’s interesting.

HB: That was the house that we’d always lived in, and we had a wonderful big studio in the top floor, the whole top floor with great big dormer windows on three sides.

WPA Tile Murals SF Zoo

LF: And you completed the mosaic murals in the house and had them moved?

HB: They were in sections, you see. We did it on the floor. We laid it out on the floor as we completed it section by section. One thing that made this particular material still more complicated was that the color was only on the fact. So we used to have to lay it out roughly on the face so we could see what we had done, what we had before us. But, of course, when it came to mounting it, the mounting paper, the heavy paper on which it was mounted and transported, had to be put over the face. So when it was laid out on the floor, then we mounted paper over the face so it all disappeared. In other words, it was completely covered up and dismantled. And we had to get the paper off the back and clean it up so that the mortar could go directly on the back.

LF: This is the Fleishhacker Zoo Mother House? In other words, it was a sort of resting place, and so on, for mothers and their children visiting the Zoo? Is that correct?

HB: Yes. It was a memorial given by Mr. Herbert Fleishhacker, as I understand it, given in memory of his mother, Delia, because it says across the face of it, “To the memory of Delia Fleishhacker.” And I remember Mr. and Mrs. Fleishhacker came over one day to see it. They wanted to see it while it was still on the floor to see that there was not going to be anything offensive slipped in, and they had to climb three flights of stairs to get up to it, but they did it.

LF: This was when it was being installed or — ?

HB: Just before, when it was completely laid out.

LF: In your house?

HB: At home in Alameda, yes, because they wouldn’t see it again until it was all on the wall, so that was something they had to do, if they wanted to see it.

LF: I’ve never seen this because naturally a man can’t go in to see –

HB: No, but this is on the outside.

LF: It’s on the outside? I thought it was on the inside.

HB: Oh no, it’s –

LF: It doesn’t say here in the thesis where it was located so –

MB: It’s right on the outside of the building.

HB: I have a number of other photographs that will give you a better idea. That doesn’t give you an idea of the outside. (Interruption to look at photographs).

Mother's Building San Francisco Zoo

LF: You were talking about the mosaics, Miss Helen Bruton, on the outside of the Fleishhacker Zoo Mother’s Rest House. I had thought they were inside, but they are outside. They have stood up against the weather, have they?

HB: They just seem to be exactly the same as they were. That was one of the things I was interested in. The other day I looked at them hard, to see what was going on and I can’t see that there’s been any deterioration at all. Of course, they’re not actually exposed to the weather. It’s a loggia, they’re at either end of a long loggia perhaps sixty feet long, and you can turn from one to the other which makes it –

LF: You believe this was finished then probably in the late spring of 1934?

HB: Yes, yes, I would say that very definitely because I think we have a little tile with the date on it. It’s there on the panels.

Signature Tile for Bruton Sisters