Apr 062015
 

Memorial Court
Civic Center

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In 1932 when the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House and Veterans Building were built the project was supposed to include a memorial to veterans. The project ran out of money, and one was never made.

However, during this time the octagonal lawn in the Memorial Court has held earth from lands where Americans fought and died. This stone octagon, now encloses the earth. The Memorial has been designed so that it can be opened to accept newly consecrated earth from battlefields of the future.

Passages of Remembrance

In 1935 that War Memorial Complex architect Arthur Brown, Jr., recommended landscape architect Thomas D. Church be engaged to complete the Memorial Court. Church, a world renowned landscape architect, know for his gardens reflecting the Beaux-Arts tradition completed the design in 1936. His drawings reference a “future memorial” to be added in the octagonal area of the Memorial Court.

Soils from World War I battlefields were consigned there at the time of its completion. A similar ceremony depositing soils from World War II battlefields took place following the 1945 signing of the United Nations Charter in the Veterans Building. And in 1988, veterans groups held a ceremony interring battlefield soils from Austria, Belgium, Cambodia, China, Egypt, England, France, Germany, Guam, Italy, Laos, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

Prior to beginning construction of the San Francisco Veterans Memorial, the soil from the center of the octagonal area of the Memorial Court was carefully removed and safeguarded.

war memorial sf

The Young Dead Soldiers, a poem also used at the Presidio Cemetery Overlook, is a fitting poem for this spot.

The project artist was Susan Narduli of Narduli Studio.  The project was completed October 2014 with $2.5 million of private donations.

War Memorial in San Francisco

Mar 312015
 

2825 Diamond Street
Glen Park

Six Degrees at Glenn Park Library

Six Degrees is an artwork installed in the entrance of  Glen Park Branch Library done in 2007 for $36,000. The artists are Reddy Lieb and Linda Raynsford.

The circular art elements were inspired by the history and ecology of Glen Park. The circle, which the artists used as their main geometric design form, is intended to symbolize wholeness and community.

Specific references in the artwork are:

  • In 1889, an amusement park was built in Glen Canyon to attract potential home buyers. One of the attractions was tightrope walker Jimmy “Scarface” Williams.

Jimmy the Tightrope walker from Glen Park Circus

  • Early streetcar tracks in Glen Park are silk screened on another metal circle.

Glen Park Street Cars

  • An abstracted glass bat house refers to a recent mosquito abatement program that included the installation of nine bat houses near Islais Creek.
  • A blue painted circle represents Islais Creek.
  • In 1965, when there were plans to destroy the southwest portion of Glen Park to improve automobile transit, three woman—Geraldine Arkush, Zoann Nordstrom,and Joan Siebold, collectively known as the Gum Tree Girls— helped prevent that development.

Glen Park Library Art

  • The outline of a red-tailed hawk’s wings is painted on a yellow circle.
  • Copper cut-outs fused in glass are images of plant life in Glen Park.
  • A poem written by local poet Diane DiPrima for William Blake is fired into a circular glass medallion near the bottom of the artwork. The entire poem reads as follows:For Blakeby now it is too late to wonder
    why we are wherever we are
    (tho some peace is possible): singing on the breath
    & we have had bodies of Fire and lived in the Sun
    & we have had bodies of Water and lived in Venus
    and bodies of Air that screeched as they tore around Jupiter all our eyes remembering Love

Diane DiPrima poem

 

Art at Glen Park Library

Reddy Lieb has a BA in art and an MFA in Glass Blowing, she lives in San Francisco.   Linda Raynsford has a BFA from California College of Arts

NYCHOS

 Lower Nob Hill  Comments Off
Mar 302015
 

500 Geary
Lower Nob Hill

Nychos

 

Austrian street artist NYCHOS is in town for the opening his show “Street Anatomy” at Fifty24SF Gallery on April 18th. In conjunction with the show, he has been putting up a few pieces around town.

According to his facebook page the Austrian urban art and graffiti illustrator Nychos was born in 1982 in Styria, Austria where he grew up in a hunting family. Getting confronted by the anatomy of dead animals at an early age and being an 80’s kid with an interest for cartoons and heavy metal ended up being some of the ingredients which inspired him when he started graffiti and painting at the age of 18. Over the years he developed a distinctive style which stands out – his dissections and cross sections of human and animal bodies are easily recognized. The focus and reinterpretation of dissected motives in a combination of colorful outlines can be seen as his branding. He is well known for his huge and technically outstanding art pieces in the urban environment as well as several gallery exhibitions. Nychos is the founder of Rabbit Eye Movement:

Rabbit Eye Movement (REM) originally started as a street art concept, created by the urban/graffiti artist and illustrator Nychos in 2005. It fueled and defined the artwork Nychos spread on the streets for the next seven years, and in 2012 he acquired a home for REM to live. Located in the heart of Vienna, the Rabbit Eye Movement Art Space is now a full time gallery and agency dedicated to pushing the same movement that created it.

“I created the ‘Rabbit Eye Movement’ as an homage to all the “Rabbits” out there who are active in the Urban Art Movement. It doesn’t matter what kind of mission they are following.”
– NYCHOS

Mar 232015
 

The Stanley Mosk Library and Court Building
Gillis Hall
914 Capitol Mall
Sacramento, CA

Maynard Dixon Mural Sacramento LibraryI recently toured the newly restored California State Library building.  The $62 million restoration brought the library/courts building into the modern age. (The project came in under budget at around $49 million).

Although this Maynard Dixon mural experienced a small amount of damage during the restoration, it remains in Gillis Hall for all to enjoy.

Maynard Dixon Mural in California State Library

Titled, A Pageant of Traditions, the mural is sixty nine feet long and fourteen feet tall.

The mural, painted after the library was opened in 1928, symbolically depicts the greatest influences on the history and development of California.

The left side shows the Spanish influences on California.  Amongst these you will find a Spanish explorer, Jesuit and Franciscan priests, Californios, and an Hispanic workman with his wife.  These are all pre-industrial California.

DSC_8076On the right side one sees symbolic references to the all that lies East of California. These figures include a colonial settler, a Revolutionary War officer, Native Americans and several Afro-Americans.  There is a forty-niner from the gold rush and a 1920s worker and his family.

Maynard Dixon Power and BeautyOver the entry way is a male figure depicting Power and a female figure depicting Beauty.  Three books, encased in halos, are the books of philosophy, science and art .

Maynard Dixon's signatureConsidered one of the nations greatest Western artists, L. Maynard Dixon was born near Fresno, California in 1875. He was an interpreter of western landscapes and Native American themes. He was a painter, a muralist, and an illustrator. He died in 1946 in Tucson, Arizona.

Although he was primarily self-taught, Dixon briefly studied at California Institute of Design in 1893. He worked as an illustrator for several California publications before going to New York where he worked at Scribner’s and Harper’s Monthly from 1907 to 1912.

He received a bronze medal for Trail in Oregon (1915) at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition.

Maynard Dixon

The California State Library Foundations Bulletin put out a special issue on the restoration of the building in November of 2013.  It has excellent accounts of the life of Dixon and his preparation and execution of this mural beginning on page 14.
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The library is open to the public Monday through Friday from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm, excluding holidays.

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Mar 202015
 

Ramon Conde, Vigo, Spain

This striking and strong sculpture is by Ramon Conde and stands on the Gran Via  in Vigo Spain.

Os Redeiros

Titled Os Redeiros it is of seven nude fisherman straining to pull in a net.  The city of Vigo is a major fishing port in Spain.

Ramon Conde Fisherman sculptureRamón Conde was born in Ourense Spain December 18, 1951, the son of a stone sculptor.

In 1971 he joined the Faculty of Arts in Santiago.

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He has shown all over Europe and in the United States.

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Other public works include the Arc de Triomphe (Lugo), the monument to Alonso III de Fonseca (in the Cloister of the Palacio de Fonseca, Santiago de Compostela), the monument to Coleman and Reverter and the Milkmaid (Ourense), the True Contrast (Pontevedra) or Homage to Emigration (in Vigo).

Conde currently has his studio is in Milladoiro, near Santiago de Compostela.

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Rainbow Honor Walk

 Castro  Comments Off
Mar 202015
 

Castro Street
Between Market and 20th

Oscar Wilde

There are twenty individuals honored on the Rainbow Honor Walk.  According to the Walks website: 

The Rainbow Honor Walk seeks to honor heroines & heroes of the LGBT communities through a sidewalk tribute in San Francisco’s historic Castro district to honor their contributions. The Rainbow Honor Walk is an all-volunteer organization.

The criteria for the first 20 names to be placed on the Rainbow Honor Walk are as follows: Self expressed LGBT individuals, now deceased, who made significant contributions in their fields. Criteria for additional names to be added to the Walk over the years will change and adapt according to the wishes of the community working in concert with the Rainbow Honor Walk Board of Directors.

It would be horrifically difficult for me to bring all twenty of them to you here in one blog post, so I have chosen my favorites, beginning with Oscar Wilde, whose humor has always delighted me both in his talks and his writings, but I also found reading about the selection process by the chairman David Perry gave me insight into some others and how they may very well be over looked if you are not as aware of your history.

Christine Jorgenson

“One of the names that calls up a lot of personal memories and prompts a fresh understanding is Christine Jorgensen. As a child in Catholic School during the late ’50s, I was very aware of Jorgensen’s multi-media exposure. She was glamorous, a former GI, and was being touted as the first to have this challenging reassignment surgery. Then came all the heated religious talk about Intelligent Design, existing definitions of sexual identity versus anything more insightful, and – since Christine’s medical procedures had started in Copenhagen – all the comedic one-liners around the notion of going to or getting lost in Denmark. That was then. And now – 25 years after her death – a permanent, celebratory bronze plaque is about to be bolted into Castro Street and guaranteed to fire the imaginations of a generation or two who have never heard of Christine Jorgensen.”..David Perry

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Randy Shilts, whose book “And the Band Played On” opened the eyes to the world of the AIDS Epidemic.

Alan Turing

Again from David Perry…”As board chair and co-founder, I’m not supposed to have favorites. But one of them is Alan Turing, the father of modern computing. Without exaggeration, those of us who love not only LGBT history but world history know that without him breaking the Enigma Code, the outcome of World War II would have been very different. Nazi Germany was defeated because of the genius of this openly gay man. After that incredibly heroic effort, he was vilified and chemically castrated because he was openly gay. Only recently, within the last two years, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth apologized for that and Alan Turing has begun to get the recognition he deserves. ”

Jane Adams

*

Alan Ginsberg

The total list of honorees includes:

Jane Addams (1860-1935) • James Baldwin (1924-87) • George Choy (1960-1993) • Federico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936) • Allen Ginsberg (1926-97) • Keith Haring (1958-90) • Harry Hay (1912-2002) • Sylvester James (1947-88) • Christine Jorgensen (1926-89) • Frida Kahlo (1907-54) • Del Martin (1921-2008) • Yukio Mishima (1925-70) • Bayard Rustin (1912-87) • Randy Shilts (1951-94) • Gertrude Stein (1874-1946) • Alan Turing (1912-54) • Tom Waddell (1937-87) • Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) • Tennessee Williams (1911-83) • Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)

The plaques are 3’X3′ and were manufactured by Berkeley’s Artworks Foundry.

The 1852 Shoreline

 Embarcadero  Comments Off
Mar 022015
 

162 King Street
South Beach

South Beach Shoreline

Here is a map of San Francisco prior to 1852.

Pre 1852 Map of San Francisco

In this map Townsend is the western-most street on the waterfront, one block northwest of King Street.

Southbeach Shoreline 1852 in sidewalk on king street

Thanks to Found SF and the Oakland Museum, you can see what the area looks like today:

Mission Bay old and New

brass squiggly line in sidewalk

If you are interested in more information about the  water that lies under our fair city, I suggest you take one of Joel Pomerantz’s Thinkwalks.  He is a local expert on the indigenous water of San Francisco, and gives fascinating tours around different parts of the city.

The waterfront art project is part of the San Francisco Art Commission for the Waterfront Transportation Projects.

Feb 022015
 

Koret Health and Recreation Center
2130 Fulton Street
Inner Richmond

Sprinter at the Koret Center

This bronze sculpture sits directly to the right of the entry door to the University of San Francisco’s, Koret Health and Recreation Center.

It is an 8′ tall bronze by Edith Peres-Lethmate. According to the Smithsonian the sculpture is a large-scale version of a sculpture executed in 1976. The sculpture was commissioned by the University and was funded by the university’s Class of 1986.

According to the Koret blog ““Sprinter,” was originally created on a smaller scale in celebration of the 1984 Olympic games.”

Edith Peres-Lethmate Sculpture

Edith Peres-Lethmate was born 1927 in Koblentz Germany and is primarily known for her sports sculptures.  Ms Peres-Lethmate still resides in Germany.

Edith Peres-Lethmate

Camilo Cienfuegos

 Cuba  Comments Off
Jan 292015
 

Revolution Plaza
Havana, Cuba

Camilo Cienfuegos by Eliecer Aquiar

On the Ministry of Ministry of Communications building is another line sculpture by Enrique Avila Gonzales.  This one is of a lesser known revolutionary hero, Camilo Cienfuegos, shown here with his signature cowboy hat.

The sculpture was erected in 2009. The words “Vas bien, Fidel” (You’re doing fine, Fidel) on the bottom right, refers to a reply given to Fidel at a January 8, 1959 victory rally. How am I doing? asked Castro You’re doing fine said Cienfuegos.

Camilo Cienfuegos disappeared while he was traveling in a small plane from Camagüey province that same year.

Jan 282015
 

Plaza de Revolucion
Havana, Cuba

Che Guevera in Havana, Cuba

Che Guevera in Havana, Cuba

Plaza de la Revolución  “Revolution Square” is one of the 13 largest outdoor plazas in the world. The square is notable as being where many political rallies take place and Fidel Castro and other political figures address Cubans. Fidel Castro has addressed more than a million Cubans on many important occasions, such as 1 May and 26 July each year.

This sculpture of Che Guevara is a single line replica of the famous Alberto Korda photograph of Che.  The sculptor on this was Cuban artist Enrique Avila Gonzales.  The words “Hasta la Victoria Sempre” (Onward forever to victory) are in Che’s handwriting.

“Of all the faces, the one which required the most work was that of Che. It happened to be a contest in which I participated by invitation, along with 15 other projects. My hesitation was deciding on the material, maybe ceramic, maybe concrete…

“I did many, many drawings and sketches of possible formats, until I saw my son tracing lines on a piece of paper. I was surprised by its tremendous economy and simplicity, and right away the lines came to me and I immediately saw Che’s character in them. All that remained was choosing the material, and at that point of inspiration, it couldn’t have been anything other than steel, like his mettle.

“Another thing was Korda’s photo. It is so artistically impeccable. It is perfectly suitable for any other visual art form. When I was chosen to do the project, I went right away to his house and told him: Look Korda, I’m going to do a sculpture of your photo.

“He started to laugh and we had a toast to its completion. Once it was finished and installed, in 1993, I took him to see it and said: Well, there you have your photo.”

There is almost 15 tons of steel in the piece, donated by the French government.

The Korda photo was takin on March 5, 1960, during a memorial service for victims of the Le Coubre freighter explosion.  It was not until 1967 that the photo passed into iconography with Kordas blessing.  Korda,originally a Cuban fashion photographer, who died in 2001 never received royalties from the photo and as a supporter of the revolution believed that spreading the image would help spread Guevara’s ideals.