Sep 152014

San Francisco Zoo
Sloat and The Great Highway

Bronze Cougar at SF ZooCougar III by Gwynn Murrill

Gwynn Murrill is a Los Angeles based artist who received her MFA from UCLA in 1972.  Murrill has three sculptures at the San Francisco Zoo.  Cougar III and Tiger 2 are at the front entryway and Hawk V is located at the Koret Animal Resource Center.

Bronze Tiger at SF ZooTiger 2

Gwynn Murrill has always worked with animals as her subject matter. Stripped of surface detail the sculptures are almost abstract in form.

Bronze Hawk at SF ZooHawk V

The Arts Commission purchased Hawk V for $29,000. Tiger 2 was purchased for $85,000, and Cougar III for $65,000.  All three sculptures were purchased with funds generated by the City’s percent-for-art program, which allocates 2% of capital projects for art enrichment.

While I think that all three of these sculptures are lovely, and truly adored by children that visit the zoo, I am not sure why Ms. Merrill (while a Californian, not a San Franciscan) has been given the exclusive commissions for the bronzes in the zoo.  There are many bronzes sitting throughout the zoo and they are every bit as spectacular, including two by local Doctor Burt Brent.


Sep 082014

Jewish Senior Living Group
Orignally known as Jewish Home of the Aged
120 Silver Avenue
Excelsior District

Maternite by Ursula Malbin

Ursula Malbin was born on April 12, 1917, in Berlin to Jewish parents, both doctors of medicine. While in Germany she worked as a cabinet-maker. In 1939, a few weeks before World War II, but after her family had already left the country, she fled Nazi Germany, alone, penniless and without a passport.

She found herself in Geneva when the war broke out, and there she met the sculptor Henri Paquet, whom she married in 1941. Since 1967, Ursula Malbin has divided her creative life between the Artists’ Village of Ein Hod in Israel and the village of Troinex near Geneva in Switzerland.

Ursula Malbin

Maternite was a gift to the Jewish Home by Mr. and Mrs. Victor Marcus in 1970.

Jewish Home San Francisco

According to the Jewish Home Website:

The Jewish Home of San Francisco first opened its doors to residents in 1891. The complex has undergone many periods of development, including the construction of a Brutalist-style tower known as “Annex A” in 1969, designed by Howard A. Friedman, and its associated courtyard and fountain in 1970, designed by Lawrence Halprin. The courtyard is enclosed by Annex A (now known as the Goodman Building) and the Beaux Arts-inspired Main Building on an almost 9-acre site.

Brutalist Tower at Jewish Home

The design for the courtyard employs a central fountain, a generous expanse of lawn and deciduous and evergreen trees to create an urban oasis for residents. The fountain is composed of a series of cascading, rectilinear, overlapping concrete planes, animated with water that streams over them and collects in a shallow sunken pool. The concrete planes form an almost stage-like horizontal surface, upon which reclines a mother and child sculpture by Israeli artist Ursula Malbin. The fountain and its foreground apron are nestled into a shallow-sloping lawn edged with a curvilinear concrete seat wall and wide sidewalk with moveable seating. A mixture of pine trees and pollarded sycamores create a buffer along the courtyard’s edge.

The significance of Halprin’s own Jewish heritage and his role as an active member of the 1970 Jerusalem Committee, assessing the city’s master plan at the time of this commission, brings a unique cultural dimension to the importance of this Bay Area project.


Although you must enter the main building to access the garden, the Jewish Home is extremely accommodating, and this was not a problem what-so-ever on the day that I visited.

Sep 022014

414 Mason Street
Union Square

Native Sons of the Golden West Building in San Francisco

The Native Sons of the Golden West Building on Mason street is an eight story, steel frame structure, with a highly ornamented façade of granite, terra cotta and brick.

Men of California History

Around the two main entrances to the building are placed medallions of men associated with the discovery and settlement of California. They are (starting at the bottom and moving up and to the right): Cabrillo, General John A. Sutter, Admiral John Drake Sloat, Peter Burnett, General A. M. Winn,  James W. Marshall,  John C. Fremont and Father Junipero Serra. These were sculpted by Jo Mora, who has been in this site many times before.


Men in California History

In the front of the building at the second floor are  six terra cotta panels, the work of Domingo Mora and his son, Jo. The scenes are:  “The Discovery of California”; “Civilization”; “The Raising of the Bear Flag”; “The Raising of the American Flag”; “The Pioneers”; “The Discovery of Gold.”

Civilization on the NSGW Building

*Jo Mora on the Native Sons of the Golden West Building


Jo Mora sculptures



Epochs in Pioneer History


Sadly, due to the awning on the building it is impossible to see all 6 of the panels.  I was unable to find photos of the other two anywhere, to share with you. This is the best I could do, by blowing up a photo I took from across the street.

The third Floor is marked by a line of the symbol of the State of California, the Golden Bear.

Golden Bears by Jo Mora on the NSGW Building in San Francisco
The California Bear and the Phoenix, the symbol of San Francisco, also grace the front of the building.

Pheonix the Symbol of San Francisco*

California Golden Bear on the NSGW Building in San Francisco
The Association purchased the lot from the Congregation Ohabai Shalome, for $42,500. The original Native Sons of the Golden West building built in 1895, burned down in the 1906 Fire and Earthquake.

The cost of the new building ws approximately $210,000.00

The architects of the new building were August Goonie Headman, Persio Righetti  and E. H. Hildebrand, of Righetti and Headman, a firm that operated for 5 years during the post Earthquake and Fire of 1906.

The Contractor was  P.J. Walker and Associates and the foreman on the job was Mr. J.S. Fifield.
Cornerstone of the NSGW Building in San FranciscoThe corner stone of the new building was laid February 22, 1911. It is the old corner stone saved from the fire with a new stone covering it.

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