Aug 272014

Corner of Peabody and Leland
Visitation Valley

Leland Avenue Improvement Project

Opening in March 2001, Hans Schiller Plaza was the first Visitacion Valley Greenway site to be completed. Construction was supervised by the Trust for Public Land with funding from the Columbia Foundation founded by the late Madeleine Haas Russell.  The gift was made in memory of her friend Hans J. Schiller.

 Hans J. Schiller was a Bay Area architect and environmental activist. Mr. Schiller’ s career spanned more than 50 years. Schiller settled in the Bay Area in the 1940s and established the firm, Hans J. Schiller Associates, in Mill Valley. Schiller’s passion for his work was matched by his commitment to ensuring that people from all walks of life had access to parks and open space. It was these commitments  that lead to his appointment by Governor Jerry Brown as Commissioner of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission in 1978.

The Landscape architect on the project were Sarah Sutton and Chris Kukula of Wolfe Mason and Associates. 

Hans Shiller Plaza

The Visitacion Valley Greenway is composed of a linear series of six publicly owned parcels (each a block long), cutting a swath through the heart of Visitacion Valley. Over a period of 16 years it has been developed by the members of the Visitacion Valley Greenway Project in partnership with the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department (SFRPD) and the Trust for Public Land. Originally a PUC easement, it took 5 years of negotiations to gain permission to build the Greenway. The Visitacion Valley Greenway is a Parks Partner of the San Francisco Parks Trust.

Visitation Valley Greenway would never have been possible without the tireless effort of artists Fran Martin, Anne Seeman and Jim Growden.

Fran MartinFran Martin, Design Coordinator for Visitacion Valley Greenway was responsible for the tile work.

Fran holds an MA in art and worked as a sculptor until 1995.  In 1994 she began working full time as a co-ordinator of the Visitation Valley Greenway Project.

Jim Growden Gates and FencingJim Growden was the designer for the entry gates and fencing.

Jim received an M.A. in sculpture from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1972. Jim worked as a sculptor of wood and steel, for 25 in San Francisco. In 1993 he moved to Visitacion Valley where he became involved with the Visitacion Valley Greenway.

Visitation Valley Greenway Project


Leland Avenue in San Francisco

Jim Growden has created 8 of the Greenway’s 12 signature gates and finials, as well as the cut steel images of native animals and plants seen at the Native Plant Garden, as well as on Leland Avenue.

Hans Shiller ParkFran Martin created 2 of the Greenway’s gates, weir walls, tile work and patios with columns sites.

Art work in Visitation Valley


Aug 202014

1017 Market Street

1017 Market Street, San Francisco Architecture

This gorgeous building sits on Market between 6th and 7th.  It has been sheathed and scaffolded for quite awhile now, and it is a pleasure to see that it has come out from behind its blanket much better for the stay.

The seven story building, with its terra-cotta finish and steel frame construction has a unique steel and glass façade that begins above the ground floor retail space and is framed by Corinthian pillars. The giant Corinthian order columns and capitals are constructed of terra-cotta tiles; and the entablature, seemingly so massive, is in fact hollow—a galvanized-iron box. The words Furniture and Carpets stand out from that galvanized iron entablature reminding us that at one time it was the Union Furniture Store.

Mid Market Revival and Architecture in San Francisco

During the restoration they have put back the 700 lights that go around the windows.  They had simply been empty holes for many many years now.

To see some gorgeous photos of the building prior to its make over, visit Mark Ellinger’s wonderful piece Grand Illusion.

Corinthian Column, Historic Restoration

The building was designed in 1909 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.

Public Art in San Francisco

A shot of the windows before restoration:

windows prior to restoration

Aug 112014

665 Sutter Street
The Olympic Club Parking Garage
Union Square

Olympic Club Parking Garage

I have showed you the figures at the front of the Olympic Club here.  But at the back, the entry to the parking garage, are 9 female nudes.

The sculptures are by Michelle Gregor.  Michelle has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from University of California, Santa Cruz and Master of Fine Arts degree from San Francisco State University.

Michelle Gregor Sculptor

Michelle Gregor has taught ceramics at San Jose City College since 2002. She also teaches 3-D design every spring semester.

Public Art in San Francisco

“Her style is described as emblematic of the unique Californian style seen in art, as it is not too representational, but has a certain serenity and spiritual feeling about it. She comes from a generation that blazed the path of abstract expressionism in the Bay Area, specifically for female artists.”  The California Aggie

Sculpture at Olympic Street Garage

Aug 052014

1601 Griffith Street
BayView / Hunters Point

NdebeleThis abstract sculpture composed of three vertical elements, is titled Ndebele and is by Fran Martin.  It was installed in 1987.

Ndebele by Fran Martin SFAC

I have tried three times over many many months to find this piece.  It is listed at the pump station but it is actually on the side in a small gated area off of  Shafter Avenue.

Fran Martin received her M.A. in Art in 1973. She fabricated and exhibited sculpture until 1995.  Since 1994, she has been co-founder of and ardent worker at the  Visitacion Valley Greenway Project (VVGP).

Griffith Pump Station SFPUC


The Griffith Pump Station was built in 1985, and is part of the SFPUC wastewater enterprise system.

SFPUC Wastewater Enterprise System


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.


I want to thank Joe Eskenazi for this wonderful follow up article.  After he read my post he tracked down someone at the SFAC and the result was this article on Tuesday August 5th in SF Weekly

Raiders of the Lost Art: Another San Francisco Sculpture Goes Missing
By Joe Eskenazi

For 30-odd years, Cindy Casey and her husband, Michael, renovated ornate elements of city buildings and works of art here in San Francisco. Not so long ago, Michael died. Now Cindy maintains a blog about public art here in the city.

Or, sometimes, the lack thereof. On a recent trip past the Ocean Park Health Center on 24th Avenue, she was expecting to find Sailor and Mermaid, a glorious, 12-foot high copper sculpture crafted in 1970 by Henri Marie-Rose. Instead, all that remains is a stump roughly the size of a garden gnome.

As it turns out, the statue had been gone a long time.

Years ago, the artist’s son, Dr. Pierre-Joseph Marie-Rose, a pediatrician with the city’s Department of Public Health, visited the site for a meeting. He was shocked to find only the gnome-sized stump. He was even more shocked at the nonchalant explanation health center personnel offered him: They allowed the foliage to cover the sculpture for years and, when they finally cut it back, Sailor and Mermaid was gone.

The San Francisco Arts Commission believes the sculpture was swiped in the early 1990s. Dr. Marie-Rose made his serendipitous discovery in the late 1990s. It was left to him to inform his father of the loss.

In fact, Henri Marie-Rose’s lost work could stand in for any number of Arts Commission pieces. The body is undertaking a yearslong comprehensive survey to chart the whereabouts of its 4,000-plus items, many of which are unaccounted for. The commission has additionally loaned out some 754 works to 183 city agencies and offices. It does not know where many of them are.

The list of public artwork stolen or vandalized since 2007 runs to 15 pages. Among the more memorable losses are the serial thefts of the Mahatma’s spectacles from the Ferry Plaza Gandhi memorial; the filching of plaques from the Shakespeare Garden; and the theft of all four bronze tortoises from the eponymous Fountain of the Tortoises in Huntington Park. Hundreds of instances of graffiti are documented, including one wit who chose to scrawl “Just sit your fat ass down and relax” on the bronze chairs near the Church and Duboce Muni stop.

Kate Patterson-Murphy, the Arts Commission’s spokeswoman, urged concerned residents to report vandalism and contribute to the city’s ArtCare fund.

That won’t bring back Sailor and Mermaid, however.

Henri Marie-Rose died in 2010. His sole accounting on the Arts Commission’s list of public works is a copper relief emplacement on the exterior of a fire station on Sansome Street. It is mounted several stories above the sidewalk.

And, as such, it is still there.

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.