Growing by the Bay

Month: February 2008

Friday Roundup

Links of the week

SF MOMA walkbridge

sfmoma walkbridge

This unusual view of the walkbridge at SFMOMA was from jasper’s photostream. Foreshortened figures are silhouetted by the skylight overheard.

San Francisco graffiti

graffiti of san francisco

The image is from GypsyRock’s photostream. GypsyRock has been documenting San Francisco graffiti for some time, having amassed a photoset comprising 1110 photos.

What has always struck me about graffiti, throughout the world, is how essentially conservative it is. You might expect that such a transgressive medium would give birth to a chaotic range of expressioin, but in fact there are a few main styles that you see over and over again in different elaborations.

With such a large photoset, the graffiti depicted in GypsyRock’s images vary in quality, but some strikingly original and expressive examples are included.

Gallery 415

Pata Negra, by Luis Luna Matiz of Colombia

Gallery 415, located at 49 Geary Street, features work by emerging and mid career Latin American artists. It’s great finally to see a gallery in the city devoted to this large, diverse, and creative region. I think Gallery 415 will be celebrating its first anniversary this weekend. It is currently displaying work by Claudio Roncoli of Argentina. Shown is Pata Negra, by Luis Luna Matiz of Colombia, from the gallery’s inaugural show a year ago.

I learned about this gallery from Namastenancy.


Nature in the city

nature in the city

I once edited a book by the poet Michael McClure called Scratching the Beat Surface. One of Michael’s premises was that the natural world can be appreciated even in urban areas.

The screenshot above links to the website of Nature in the City, whose mission is “to conserve and restore the nature and biodiversity of San Francisco and connect people with nature where they live.” This initiative is a a project of the Earth Island Institute.

Don’t hold the organization’s arithmetical limitations against it. According to the website, Corresponding to the strategies for achieving our mission, our three major program areas are:

  1. Public Education
  2. Habitat Restoration & Community Stewardship
  3. Natural Resources Management
  4. Conservation Advocacy

These are worthy programs, however you add them up.

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I go Frisco!

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Bouquets to Art

The Fine Arts Museums presents its 24th annual Bouquets to Art at the de Young March 11 through 15 this year. It’s always a good idea to go early before the flowers start to look a little wilted (prepare for crowds). This year floral arrangers will prepare some 150 bouquets to accompany the museum’s regular artwork.

I posted quite a few photos of the 2006 Bouquets to Art but, although I took photos the next year, I don’t think I ever managed to find the time to put many of them on the web. The light level in museums is always low, and this is a case where a digital SLR would be a real benefit. Instead, I still shoot with my Canon A620 — without a flash of course; it pains me to see people ruining their photos that way! — and then fix the images in Photoshop. Because of the low lighting I keep the aperture wide open and the zoom at the wide extreme (I just move the camera closer if I need to zoom in). Since I can’t bring myself to post raw images, my photo prep work is a little time consuming

Here are a couple of images from last year’s event.

bouquets to art 2007

bouquets to art 2007

Trees of San Francisco

oak street, san francisco

San Francisco was hardly a forest before the swell in its population in the mid-nineteenth century — it was mostly coastal dunes, scrub, and marshland. The city’s most extraordinary transformation was achieved by John McLaren, who magically conjured up a woodland out of Golden Gate Park’s dunes.

Today the city is home to many types of trees, some of them spectacular. One website has identified the locations of the best examples of 213 species; the list is still growing. If you want to see what a particular kind of tree looks like in the San Francisco ecosystem, all you need to do is consult this list. Click the screenshot below to visit the site.

Just for fun, I used Google Maps to zoom in on a handsome Juglens nigra (black walnut), located in the panhandle across from 1809 OakStreet (image above).

trees of san francisco

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A week of travel in virtual NoCal

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Miniature Chinese landscapes at the Conservatory of Flowers

penjing, miniature chinese landscapes, at san francisco's conservatory of flowers

To celebrate Lunar New Year, the Conservatory of Flowers is presented a display of penjing, the miniature Chinese landscapes that were the precursor to the Japanese tradition of bonzai. The tiny landscapes are said to have begun as a way for China’s dynastic emperors to visualize the landscape of their far-flung empires. The landscapes will be on on display through April 27, 2008.

The photo above, by Josh Keppel, is from NBC11’s page about the show. There you can also find a slide show and a video featuring the Conservatory’s Nina Sazevich.

Explore San Francisco (student video)

The producer of this student video, David Carmona, is asking for feedback. What do you think? Does this present a fair picture of the city?

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A week of travel in virtual NoCal

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San Francisco Bay Area Photo Destinations

A good group of Flickr photosets by Thomas Hawke, who also has a set on San Francisco neighborhoods. Click the screenshot to visit the site.

bay area photo destinations

Cable cars website

san francisco cable car website

Did you know the cable cars have their own website (separate from the rest of MUNI)? Besides route maps it offers cable car history, interactive demos, even guidelines for hopping on and off.

B in the D, when I lived in Cow Hollow near the Marina, I commuted by cable car for a while. Back then residents as well as tourists rode cables car lines. Now they are more expensive that buses and streetcars, and have become basically a novelty ride for tourists.

Belgian beer

Belgian beer by the bay

belgian beer window

For a few years running I printed books in Belgium (today the exchange rate is too unfavorable), and I developed a taste for Belgian beer, as one will. (Above is a shop window photographed in Bruges around Christmas 2006.)

Now Belgian beer establishments are springing up around the bay, a development to be applauded.

  • The Trappist, Oakland, 460 8th Street Oakland
    The Trappist features “15 Rotating Taps and Over 120 Specialty Bottles.” They seem to carry all the real Trappist beers (see the menu on their website). A small place in an 1970s Victorian, remodeled and decorated to resemble a Belgian bar. No food. Yelp reviews here.
  • Luka’s Taproom and Lounge, 2221 Broadway, Oakland
    Luka’s features mussels and oysters. The mussels aren’t quite to Belgian standards, but they are still good. The also feature DJs and dancing, and they have a pool table. The space is a bit cavernous and unfinished. Yelp reviews here.
  • Monk’s Kettle, 3141 16th Street, San Francisco (in the Mission)
    Monk’s Kettle has a large beer selection, and it serves a full range of pub-style food. From the Yelp reviews it sounds crowded, and the beers seem overpriced. I haven’t eaten there, but I guess it offers an alternative to other restaurants in the area.
  • La Trappe, North Beach, 800 Greenwich St. San Francisco
    This place opened recently near Washington Square. Consensus is that the sitting downstairs offers the most authentic Belgian flavor. Offers and excellent selection of beers and traditional Belgian specialties (frites, etc.). I’m really looking forward to checking this one out.

Curiously, neither of the SF places seems to have a website.

San Francisco murder map

SF Gate provides this cheery map, on which each pin represents a homicide. What a lot of them!

distribution of san francisco homicdes

Could violent criminals be going into upscale neighborhoods and mowing down the ruling class? Let’s compare that map to this one, which I posted last week, showing San Francisco housing prices. Hmmm.

san francisco home prices heat map

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Notes from a week of travel in virtual NoCal.

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Some rights reserved 2021 Tom’s Garden. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons (attribution, noncommercial, no derivs: 3.0) License (US), although some of the work this blog incorporates may be separately licensed. Text and images by Thomas Christensen unless otherwise noted. For print permissions or other inquiries please request via