Start of SF Festival Season ’09

          Clear blue sky and 70-degrees in San Francisco, Sol breaks through May clouds, spring rains, and deep dark man-made-cave delirium with the start of the festival season. Sunday afternoon 10 May shines with Art in the Alley in North Beach. To shake off the voodoo mal of a weak economy, a hearty guild of artists turnout for the annual fest in Kerouac Alley between City Lights Bookstore and Vesuvio, landmarks of the 1950’s beat movement. Alt Tal, a jazz trio–alto sax, standup base, and on drums, one of my favorite Vesuvian bartenders, Andy–tunes up smooth sounds to warm the shade and cool the intensity of afternoon sun. E and I stroll from the Grant end, China Town, to Columbus feasting on sumptuous color and form. After speaking with a few of the Artists and admiring their work while slackin’ to a set of jazz, we hand shake with Bill and Tom. Parched, our merry troupe steps into V’s for a Stella and Herrudura, neat.

{ARTISTS: John Kraft, Mary Ann Scanlan, Adam Gastelum, Lars Laurinovics, Coco Hayward, Hugh Linn, Graham Linn, Vince Storti, Marsha Bellavance, Riki Chen, Ronald Sauer, Fanny Renoir, Jennifer Barone, Edward Barone, Samantha Kopf, Constantina, Phyllis M Grosz, Josephine Ramos, Julia Farrow, David Lovins, Hilary Williams, Zabrina Tipton, Eric Brooks, Jason Pogo, Abi McCannon, Rosemary Manno, Roger Strobel, Danny Machiarini, Rebecca Peters, Emma Macchiarini Mankin, Jessica Loos, Elizabeth Ashcroft, Funky & Fabulous, Van & Ello}


         Overcoming the glue of good conversation and top-shelf tequila, E and I leave Vesuvio and hop on to the #30 bus, inbound to downtown. This weekend, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art opens a new sculpture gallery on the roof. Members and contributors, we are excited to see the new space. Tickets are free but on a time basis, so we stop on the third floor to see William Kentridge’s interpretation of the Magic Flute with music, mixed 3d media, and mechanical puppet constructs. Thirty minutes until our ticket time, so we only catch the end of the third movement.

          A short amble through the fifth floor gallery and over a glass-walled bridge leads to the new open-roof sculpture garden. The garden is small, but expansive; a tall, 1950’s building with Art Nuovo details towers over the eastern wall, and pulls the mind into wider being. The sculptures are moments, guideposts/forms, or subjective foot holds to transcendence. A portico covers a third of the sky and provides an intimate respite from the journey forward and outward.



          Not as wide, but definitely fun and silly, voyeurs, E and I complete our Sunday afternoon in San Francisco with a stroll through the weird, sometimes out of focus, and occasionally a little too serious, the How Weird Festival on Howard Street. From SFMOMA a couple of blocks east along 2nd street, we encounter approximate Burning Man sensibilities in technology with trance music, seven-inch Frankenstein-Anime platform shoes below fur, feathers, and skin. How Weird is a smile, a smirk, and a wink, wink against contemporary conformity, the normal curve.



            What can I possibly add? E and I love the season of festivals in San Francisco. Free or small entry fee, courteous crowds, food, music, and always a carnival of diversity and spectacle extraordinaire.

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