More Colorful Tiled Stairs – Lincoln Park – Tony Holiday

I was delighted to learn, recently, that San Francisco now has yet another set of colorful tiled steps… its fourth. These are the Lincoln Parks stairs. It’s a marvelous way to beautify our city – and there are so many staircases to work with!

We have pictures thanks to Tony Holiday (who also reported on the previous staircase, the Arelious Walker stairs). These are republished with minor edits from his blog, Stairways are Heaven. Go there for more pictures and his full hiking route.

Clicking on any of the pictures below will show you a larger version.

Tony writes, “The Lincoln Park tiled stairway (52 steps) is now walkable. Do go see this in person. The steps are at the west dead-end of California St. at 33rd Ave. in the Outer Richmond neighborhood. They climb to the golf course and a trail that’ll take you north a couple blocks to the east trailhead for the Lands End/Coastal Trail.”

I haven’t been there yet, but it’s definitely in my plans!

Artistic New Mosaic Stairway for San Francisco – Tony Holiday

I’ve written here about the Hidden Garden tiled staircase that was completed some months ago. Before that, there was the first of its kind in San Francisco, the magnificent 16th Avenue Tiled steps, which was completed in 2005. Recently I learned, (on Facebook!) that San Francisco has a third mosaic stairway. Unlike the other two, which are quite close to our neighborhood, this is over at Innes Street, in the Bayview at Innes and Northridge.

Tony Holiday, who hikes around San Francisco and blogs at Stairways Are Heaven,  attended the opening ceremony. This account below is a summary from his blog post, New Tiled Stairway. (Go there for more – and higher-resolution – pictures of this and other walks. His account of Forest Knolls stairways is HERE.)

[Edited to add: There’s now a third colorful tiled stairway, and we’ve got photographs (Thanks, Tony!): More Colorful Tiled Stairs – Lincoln Park.]


There’s a new tiled stairway in San Francisco’s Bayview/Hunters Point neighborhood called “Flights of Fancy.” Learned about it from the Hidden Garden Steps Website (16th Ave. tiled stairway in the Golden Gate Heights neighborhood, Inner Sunset) where there are some photos. There’s some interesting info about this latest stairway art project on SF Department of Public Work’s page.

San Francisco’s third tiled stairway is named for Dr. Arelious Walker, a pastor and author who’s known for many good deeds in the Bayview community. I quote from an Internet article:

One of the most distinguished honors a city can pay tribute to its greatest contributors is naming a street in their honor. Usually when that happens the person is deceased but in this case an exception was made and the great city of San Francisco named in his honor the street “Arelious Walker Drive” in the BayView Hunters Point and New BayView Districts. Dr. Walker is a Community Champion. His ultimate dream is to build TRUE HOPE SQUARE, a housing development with a senior citizens home, child daycare center, and a special home for those men and women that do not have any place to go when they get saved. Dr. Walker is constantly fighting to clean up the neighborhoods, keep affordable housing in every neighborhood, and to keep his dream alive so that it may come to fruition.”

987170_orig - 2  a bay view

During a Bayview “Sunday Streets” a few years ago I had a great time exploring some of the neighborhood’s stairways and Hilltop Park (with the big sundial) but had not gone quite as far east as is the new stairway. I’d heard of Innes St. in the Bayview as it runs off Third St. and is on the T-Third Metro line, so I looked up Innes on Google Maps to see if it runs through to Arelious Walker where the stairway is; it does not. At Innes near Hudson, this seemed a rather long walk from the T-Third. I was, however, able to attend the opening celebration with a friend who has a car. There’s a very nice city-and-bay-view from the top of the stairs  and plenty of other stairways in the neighborhood that snake up to and around the residences. This area is near India Basin Shoreline Park.

While here, however, I noticed that the extremely familiar #19 Polk bus (that also crawls over Potrero Hill) stops right at the foot of the stairs. So I could’ve taken this bus without long waits for a “neighborhood bus” (as in the #36 Teresita and #37 Corbett, for example).

7983072_orig - 5 foot of the stairway

Here’s some detail from the foot of the stairs.

3263449_orig - 6 foot of the stairs

5273362_orig - 7 climbing upClimbing up…

5899206_orig - 8 - 87 stepsAnd further up…

9134398_orig - 9 midstepsMiddle steps…

5057015_orig - 10 it turns hereIt turns here.

7434113_orig - 12 go see this in person

Go see this in person!

9795413_orig -13 nearing the topNearing the top here…

408210_orig - 14 San Franciscos 3rd tiled stairwayA closer look at the designs…

5984512_orig - 19 stairway from across the streetHere’s what it looks like from the foot of the staircase.

I was able to get a shot of the gorgeous (and delicious) cake before it was cut.

630030_orig 3 cake

Before the ribbon was cut, attendees were treated to some bongo playing and several short intros to — and speeches by — people who helped make this artwork possible. The plaque is at the foot of the stairs, attributing “Flights of Fancy” to artists Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher. (SFAC = San Francisco Arts Commission.)

274436_orig - 4 artists

“The artists were inspired by decorative patterns drawn from various cultures: Adinkra cloth from Ghana, Native American painted potter; Central American textiles; Japanese and Indonesian fabrics; Middle Eastern tile patterns and paisley designs from India.”

Beautiful Hidden Garden Steps Mosaic

Three years ago, reporting on a meeting I attended, I mentioned the Hidden Garden Steps project. The other day, a friend told me it was done, and of course I wanted to see it. So off we went.

It starts at Lawton and 16th, next to a painted bench, and connects to Kirkham.  Here’s the first flight up, with a snail…

hidden garden steps 1Goes up to a golden California poppy …

hidden garden steps 2…(and notice that many of the flowers have names of donors on them?)

hidden garden steps 3More flowers, a dragon fly, and ferns…

hidden garden steps 4

hidden garden steps 5And lots more names!

If you want to see each flight of steps in more detail – and even read the names on them – there’s a website with photographs HERE.

And there are views – including one of my favorites, the beautiful Sutro Forest.

sutro forest and UCSF

Vandalized Art on the Fence

A few days ago, I posted a photo of a painting someone had mounted on their fence. And soon after, neighbor Nola sent a message on Facebook saying that by the time I posted the photo here, the original picture had been vandalized. Today, I went to have a look – and sure enough, someone had scrawled glasses and a Hitlerian mustache and forelock on it in runny paint.

vandalized art on fence -forest knolls san francisco

I’m sad. Why would someone do this? (Unless it was the artist himself doing a Marcel DuChamp tribute.)

Here’s the original:

art on fence - forest knolls san francisco

Art on the Fence

The other night, going for a walk, I was intrigued to see this picture on a neighbor’s fence. Since it was dark, my photos didn’t come out well, with a splotchy white reflection from the flash. But a couple of days ago, I actually made it during the day.

painting on fence - forest knolls san franciscoIt’s a rather dramatic painting, with something deleted and the artist’s signature: Richard Vejmola, dated 1/8/14. Wonder who the baby is?

Thanks, whoever put it up – It’s a quirky addition to our beautiful neighborhood.

art on fence - forest knolls san francisco

West Portal Arts Fair – 6 April 2014

west portal art festivalI went back to the West Portal Arts Fair yesterday afternoon. It was sunny and windy, nice for a stroll to admire all the interesting things the artists and crafters had brought. I got a bunch of photographs – used here with permission from the stall-holders. If you’re interested – go today. It ends at 4 p.m., and after that it’s gone until next year.

I tried getting a list of all the stall-holders and what they were selling, but I couldn’t find the organizer. People kept telling me he was on the other side of the road… which was rather like “jam tomorrow.” Next year, maybe I’ll try email.

Meanwhile, here’s a bunch of the stalls that I stopped at. (I ended the trip with a shoulder bag with froggy yogis, and a small welded-scrap owl.)


This glowing art glass caught my eye – it reminded me of the Dale Chihuly exhibition of a few years ago.
1 art glass

Across the road, this stall was selling colorful switchplates and small salt-and-pepper sets.

2 colorful switchplates

This one had such cute kiddy clothes, it made me wish I’d someone to buy them for. Unusually, it had some neat stuff for little boys as well, with dinosaurs and sharks and pirates.

3 kiddy clothes for boys and girls

This was unusual – photographs printed on slate (yes, the rock) and then mounted in slate frames. If I had any wall space left, I’d probably have got one … some pieces were really beautiful. The slate gave them a texture and a solidity one doesn’t associate with photographs.

4 photos printed on slate and framed in slate frames

Quirky fridge magnets, earrings, and what looked like Christmas decorations here:
5 cute fridge magnets and earrings

These bags were simple, and beautifully made. But what made them special was the whimsical fabrics the artist chose. (I got a bag with froggy yogis on it – frogs in yoga poses.)

6 bags handmade with fun fabrics

Comfortable clothes that still have an artisanal look attracted quite a few visitors.

7 clothes for women

A few artists let me photograph their work. (Some others didn’t want their work photographed, I guess because people sometimes rip them off by making cheaper copies.)

8 paintings

Figurines dressed as old men accompanied by furry animals, made of real fur – this stall seemed like it was planning ahead for winter and maybe Christmas.

9 furry figures

I’d seen welded scrap sculptures before, but this lot from Metal Souls were unusual – it had Dr Who themed stuff like the Tardis and Daleks, Star Wars figures like Darth Vader, a few dragons, and a whole menagerie of animals from alligators to owls.

10 welded metal daleks darth vader and more

The San Francisco-themed photographs here showed scenes familiar to us San Franciscans.

11 fine photography

Organic cosmetics, with none of the strange-sounding additives of commercial brands.

12 organic cosmetics

The bold jewelry designs here were quite elegant.

13 robert wuncie silversmith

Each of these salt-cellars and pots was hand-made.

14 handmade ceramics

Ramos Designs had really pretty sparkly and unusual necklaces and earrings.

15 sparkly unique necklaces and earrings

This man was explaining an odd-looking piece of furniture – the bed desk. It’s like a little book-holder, and can lock into various positions so it can become an easel, a snack tray, or a lap-top table. It folds flat. There’s a great little brochure that explains its versatility – or you could visit the Fair and get a demo.

16 multipupose bed-desk

The silver jewelry in this case was very pretty and delicate.

17 delicate silver jewelry

And the last stall I photographed: wooden toys. They were beautifully made.

18 wooden toys

Of course, that’s not all the stalls, even if I include the ones I saw yesterday. Some people didn’t want their work photographed, and I didn’t manage to get to all of the stalls anyway. (If anyone wants to send me more photos, I’d be happy to run them.)

This Weekend: West Portal Arts Fair (April 4-6, 2014)

west portal art festivalI was at West Portal today, meeting friends for lunch. The weather was pleasantly sunny after overnight rain, and I was delighted to see the West Portal Arts Fair had arrived. Both sides of the street were lined with stalls set up by crafters and artists. I recognized some from previous years, but others were new.

By the time we’d finished lunch (and made a detour to West Portal Books), the sun was gone. Nevertheless, I stopped at a few stalls, buying ear rings for a gift, a beautiful handmade wooden spatula from the same stall where I bought a coffee scoop last year, and yearned after some wonderful Zapotec rugs and handmade marquetry mirrors with naturalistic designs. One of them had a great blue heron, another had cherry blossoms, and yet another had mother-of-pearl inlaid in the wood, representing glass windows. A stall I didn’t recall from last year had adorable clothes for kids, I’m guessing mostly for little girls. And the White Rose Boutique had a Festival special – and an eye-catching display of hats that apparently made your feet happy…

By this time, a drizzle had started up, and the vendors were covering or packing up their stalls. I decided to go back tomorrow; the forecast is for better weather.

In other West Portal news: The Squat and Gobble restaurant, which had burned out in October 2012, is back! We ate there the other night. They have a broader range of offerings now, and the food is predictably decent. The new decor, though, is quite bland – nothing like the rotating art they used to have initially, and the mural that replaced it.

new squat and gobble restaurant west portal san francisco

Lovely Art Fair at West Portal, April 4-6 2014


West Portal is having its lovely arts and crafts fair on April 4-6 this year. It’s a wonderful little event, with stalls of art, jewelry, ceramics, rugs, toys, and all sorts of interesting things lining the street on both sides of West Portal Avenue for several blocks.  Hopefully the weather will stay fine!

I try to go every year, if I’m in town. It’s always got unusual stuff, ideal for gifts; and the size is very manageable.  Here’s my story (and pictures) from 2013.

West Portal Arts and Crafts Fair, 2013

It was a bright blue day in West Portal, and the vendors at the street fair seemed to be getting a response. I got there only an hour or so before it closed, but I was glad I made it.


It was as colorful and interesting as usual, and it’s always a pleasure to browse.

dramatic colorful necklaces

There were the usual unusual things: jewelry designed and made by the people at the stalls, artworks I wished had wall-space for, garments, several stalls with hats and caps, rugs, candles, decorative mirrors with marquetry or metal frames, bags, and ceramics.

glass photo holders and art

pendants in bright glass


cloth bags

ceramicsI took my camera, but forgot to charge the battery, which gave up one block down. I have fewer pictures than in other years (like in 2011, HERE or 2010, HERE). If anyone wants to send me some to fk94131 at yahoo dot com, I’ll happily publish them here.

handmade wooden things

At one stall, beautifully finished hand-made wood utensils caught my eye. They looked very tactile. I couldn’t resist; I bought a lovely little coffee scoop of madrone wood, even though I favor instant coffee… and when I got it home, I was delighted by the brand-name: Moonlight Shenanigans.

coffee scoop of madrone wood - made by Moonlight Shenanigans


The fine day and the promise of the street fair seemed to have brought out not just the crowds, which was great, but an unusual number of panhandlers. None of them seemed to be West Portal regulars, to whom I admit I do sometimes give.  Today I just felt disconcerted and didn’t.

two trees to be cut down

And then, to top it off…  removal notices on the two trees on the sidewalk next to the former Squat and Gobble. They survived the fire and the demolition; but now they’ll be demolished anyway, to provide access for cranes. Necessary, but sad. They’re among the few tall trees still left in West Portal. There was a huge and beautiful tree next to the station entrance that was lost in one of the renovations. Gradually, all the tall trees will be gone and the village will have lost something of its character.

tree removal notice

Legion of Honor: Royal Treasures and Blackbirds

Yesterday, we visited the Legion of Honor. They have an exhibition of Royal Treasures from the Louvre, a collection of opulent artifacts and woven wall hangings. There’s an inlaid stone table-top that is quite incredible; if you go, be sure to notice the pomegranate seeds…

louvremainThe other highlights were a collection of cups and jugs carved out of semi-precious stones like amethyst and agate and lapis lazuli; and a collection of elegant and ornate snuff-boxes that reminded me of pictures of Faberge easter eggs. The whole exhibition, with its emphasis on rich, fine work reminded me of displays I’ve seen of Moghul art, where a similar dynamic was on display – artisans patronized by a wealthy court, trying to out-do each other in the brilliance and detail of their work.

Somehow, though, in a museum, it just seemed out of context. I’ve visited Versailles once, and there it would have all made sense.


On the way in, we walked past the big fountain at the Legion of Honor. It’s pretty devoid of life – the water is too deep for birds, and there’s nothing there. So I was surprised when I thought I saw a blackbird dive in. Of course I was mistaken. There was no bird, dead or alive, in the water.

fountain with hidden blackbirds

blackbirds under the rim of LOH fountainOn the way back, from the other side of the fountain, I saw what happened. The birds were flying under the rim into the overflow gutter, which had just enough water to make a useful bird-bath. I watched for a few minutes, and saw several birds do the same thing.


River Otter at Sutro Baths

I read the SF Birds Yahoo Group, though I’m an indifferent birder at best. It’s always interesting to know what’s going on with our feathered residents and visitors. Birder Dan Singer recently posted a most unusual sighting.

This visitor, though, isn’t feathered. It’s a river otter, at Sutro Baths. No one on the list remembers seeing one here before, though a sea otter’s been sighted in the area a few years ago.

I passed on the word to Janet Kessler, the photographer who specializes in urban wildlife, and soon she was out there with her camera. With her permission, I bring you these pictures.

Her website is at – if you’re interested in wildlife pictures, most of them taken right here in San Francisco, that’s a treasury.

What’s Planned for Inner Sunset Fourth Friday, 24 Aug 2012

Just down the hill from us: Inner Sunset Fourth Fridays!

Explore the Inner Sunset after hours!

Enjoy specials, art exhibits, refreshments, and more from local businesses every fourth Friday of the month, from 6-9pm.

On August 24th, some of the fun things to discover include:

  • live music from The Blind Willies starting at 6pm on 9th Ave;
  • photography by local Steve Kane at Pearl Gallery on Irving;
  • and live chalk art in front of Urban Bazaar on 9th Ave.

Head down to the 9th & Irving intersection and pick up a map of the businesses that are participating at any of the following locations:

  • Urban Bazaar- 1371 9th Ave.;
  • Pearl Gallery- 839 Irving St;
  • Blackthorn- 834 Irving St.;
  • Park Smile- 1244 9th Ave.

All venues, except 21+ only establishments, are family friendly.


Urban Bazaar-B-Q and party! Sunday, 29 July 2012

Down the hill from us in the Inner Sunset, the interesting and eclectic store Urban Bazaar (“Fair trade & locally handmade gifts“) is celebrating its second anniversary. They asked me to post this … they’re having an “Urban Bazaar-B-Q” and party!

The festivities will include:

  • Barbecue & beer from noon ’til we run out
  • Birthday cupcakes & treats
  • Live art by local artist Rick Kitagawa, all day

Free workshops & demos by local artists, including…

12:30-2 pm:  Terrarium Making demo with Brandi & a chance to make your own terrarium!
2-3:30 pm: Mustache on a Stick workshop with Briana!
All day: Fabric covered jewelry making with Stephanie Bolton of Since Sass, $5-10 materials fee

When: Sunday July 29th, 12:30-6:30pm

Where: Urban Bazaar, 1371 9th Ave., San Francisco
Contact: (415) 664-4422,


Sounds like fun. I looked up Rick Kitagawa. His website says, “I make paintings of monsters, illustrate creepy things, and make prints on the side as well!” (This lonesome Cthulhu is one of his pictures, which is also available, I think, as a t-shirt…)

Crafter Stephanie Bolton has a shop on Etsy, Since Sass. It’s got a whole bunch of handmade pouches and purses, but what she’s doing this time is fabric-covered jewelry.

Since Brandi of Urban Bazaar plans a terrarium workshop, I thought I’d put in this terrarium picture from their website.

Book Signing at Urban Bazaar: Nidhi Chanani, 29 June 2012

I received this heads up from Urban Bazaar, a charming little store on 9th Avenue in the Inner Sunset, just below Forest Knolls:

I wanted to let you know about another event we’re hosting at Urban Bazaar later this month. Local artist and Inner Sunset resident Nidhi Chanani will be putting on a 2 week art exhibit of some of her higher end art pieces at Urban Bazaar from June 23rd- July 8th, and we’re hosting a book signing with her and her new art print book on June 29th from 7:30-pm. Here’s the blurb:

San Francisco artist/illustrator Nidhi Chanani is taking the world by storm!

She recently won a “Champion of Change” award at the White House, and is publishing her second book of art prints in June. Urban Bazaar is one of only 2 locations where she’s holding a book signing event!

Come out to meet Nidhi, have her autograph your book or artwork, and check out some of her artwork that we don’t normally carry – wood burnings, framed prints, and more (which will be on display at Urban Bazaar from June 23rd- July 8th in a special exhibit).

There will be free refreshments, and we’ve heard tell of some kind of awesome giveaway for the first folks to purchase her book…!

Thanks,  Brandi

1371 9th Ave.
San Francisco 94122

I looked online, and found  Nidhi Chanani’s light-hearted and delightfulwork. The two pictures here are reproduced from her website. (The link to that is HERE.)

Julius Caesar in Fatigues with Machetes

I discovered the African-American Shakespeare Company last year, when I saw its ad for Twelfth Night and went to see the play. It was innovative and colorful and included a wonderful singer, Leslie Ivy. I thoroughly enjoyed  it and decided to keep an eye open for other plays from them.

So that’s how I ended up at Julius Caesar today, in the intimate little Buriel Clay theater at Webster x Fulton. It’s the second-last weekend of its run; there are only two more shows, 31 March 2012 at 8 p.m. and April 1 at 3 p.m. and I can’ make it next weekend. It had to be today. I’m so glad I went.

Director Peter Callender set this, one of Shakespeare’s most political plays, in a fictionalized West African country, as a parable about the continuing conflicts and unstable regimes in much of Africa. The costumes were army fatigues, mainly camouflage khaki, and the weapons weren’t swords, they were machetes (though sometimes in the battle-scenes, machine-gun fire could be heard off-stage). All the actors spoke with appropriate accents, which were a little difficult to follow until my ear tuned in after about 10-15 minutes.

It was also a story about human politics, with Cassius as the instigator, Brutus as the young idealist often wrong but never in doubt, and Casca as the cynical but practical conspirator.  Six actors seamlessly played all the roles. They were entirely believable as comrades, as enemies, and most of all, as people who understood how their world worked.

It felt like being backstage of the evening news… when you read about a coup or two factions in bloody conflict, is this how it starts? If you’ve ever wondered how relevant is Shakespeare, really, this is the play to watch.

[ETA: As a bonus, they have a small exhibition space next to the auditorium, with interesting displays rotating through. Today’s exhibit was about dark-skinned dolls.]

Cole Valley Hold-up

This came from the San Francisco Police Department’s  Park Station newsletter… and I thought it was too good not to share.

It happened on the 900 block of Cole St. (Carl Ave.)

Officer Ferraz and posse responded on a call of a man with a gun, wherein a passerby called 911 to report a robbery in progress. The officers found a masked gunman standing behind a liquor store’s counter. The gunman refused to put down his pistol and the officers overpowered and disarmed him.

They then discovered that the gun was a replica, that the gunman was an actor, and that the filming crew recording the scene from across the street had not applied for a permit from the San Francisco Film Commission.

I wonder what the film-makers are going to do with that cinema verite footage…

ETA: And the next thing I know… the story’s on Reuters!

ETA 2: Apparently there was no cinema verite footage because the camera crew got scared when the police arrived, and stopped filming. Also, there was no permit needed because they were filming on private property…

Picasso at the De Young

It’s very near here, the Concourse at Golden Gate Park. I’m a member of the Fine Arts Museums of SF, so admission would be free (or at least, covered by my annual membership).  It was a weekday, and it was raining. So why not go to the Picasso exhibition at the De Young?

As usual, they did not permit photography inside the exhibition, but no one seemed to mind photos in the hall outside, which is where this was taken. It features one of the most striking pictures in the show, a portrait of Dora Maar. She was also an artist and photographer, brilliant and sharp-edged. (This poster shows the picture many times its actual size; it’s really fairly small.)

The exhibition was beautifully presented, showing not only Picasso’s path as an artist, but also his relationship with the multiple women in his life: His girlfriends Fernande Olivier and “Eva Gouel”; his ballerina wife Olga Khoklova; his mistress Marie-Therese Walter with whom he had a long affair, secret until she bore his daughter;  Dora Maar, the woman in the picture; Francoise Gilot, mother of his son Claude and his daughter Paloma; and his second wife,  Jacqueline Roque. He generally seemed to cheat on each wife or lover with a younger woman. Each of these women featured in paintings.

I strongly recommend the recorded audio tour (unless of course you’re already knowledgeable about Picasso).  It’s 6 bucks for members (and 7 for others) and is definitely worth it. It puts what might otherwise be a rather overwhelming assemblage of paintings into context.