If San Francisco were a book, it would be a collection of short stories, with each neighborhood a different story, unique and driven by it's own plot, its own tone and flavor, but connected to the other stories by reoccurring themes and some of the same characters wandering in and out of scenes. I love short stories. I always have. I think Martha Brooks Paradise Cafe and Other Stories was the first collection of linked short stories I read with the awareness of a real theme binding all the stories together. That theme was love—one reoccurring in San Francisco as well, from the summer of love, (hippies, flower power, make love not war) to I Left My Heart in San Francisco to Giant’s fans loving their team, to the love of all things literary in the week-long yearly Litquake Festival going on right now.
One of the stories in the San Francisco Book of Stories (not a real book, mind you, but as I write this post, I am thinking this might be a fun future project) is Hayes Valley, where the themes of revival and reappropriation have created a vital, incredibly stylish neighborhood of small, locally owned shops, cafes and a stretch of green—Hayes Green—with public art that fills a corridor once monopolized by a freeway on-ramp. Here, “Esctasy”, a thirty foot maiden made from found objects, structural steel scrap, and old machine and car parts, reaches for the sky. Created at Burning Man by artists Dan Das Mann and Karen Cusolito, this six ton sculpture exemplifies its’ environmental message of resourcefulness as part of the creative process. I like that. Writing fiction is all about resourcefulness. A combination of finding, inventing and recycling.
Mounted around the Amazonian, stand twelve shiny kaleidoscope sculptures, a permanent installation by Wang Po Shu, available for those who would like a more naturally psychedelic view. It sometimes helps to looks at old things in newly distributed and/or fractured ways. From a different point of view—perhaps the view point of a fly. Or a dog. Or a kaleidoscope.
On a recent visit to Hayes Valley, I discovered a delightful addition in the parking lot right next to the green; a pop-up museum, The Museum of Craft and Design, complete with a storage container reappropriated into a museum store selling lovely hand- crafts. Looming above is Ben Eine’s huge painted mural reading BRIGHTERFASTER. (Yes, it’s a commentary on our misplaced values, but I can’t help wondering if anyone really wants duller, slower? Maybe less bright and less fast is a better way to think about it.)
A delicious added bonus next to the pop-up museum comes in two more back-to-back storage containers; one houses Ritual Coffee, where every cup is individually made to order. The other is home to Smitten Ice Cream where your order is churned and frozen on demand in a liquid nitrogen machine in 60 seconds flat.
And just in case anyone was wondering about that orange grid view of the sky in last week's post; that’s designers Jason Kelly Johnson and Nataly Gattegno’s Trilux Woven Luminance Pavilion—the museum’s temporary installation of three large woven cones, that you can enter to contemplate the sky. Or eat your ice cream. Or think about looking at things from a different point of view.