Next door to the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House on Van Ness is a building that looks like its twin, The War Memorial Veterans Building. The history of how the two beaux-arts buildings were created is quite interesting, and for a detailed summary, check out the SF Virtual Museum on the web here.
Essentially, there were two groups in 1920 who wanted a big public space built, the veterans of World War I (which included the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars), and wealthy cultural patrons who wanted an opera house for the local symphony and opera companies. The two groups finally joined and started a public appeal for funds, but they started fighting amongst each other immediately for power and space. So in truly typical San Francisco fashion, it took twelve years to get the things built. Interestingly enough, that struggle continues to this day, with "society" encroaching on the veterans with each year.
The Veterans Building houses a weird mixture of uses, including a second floor "Green Room" which is quite grand and is actually painted green. It is usually rented out as a party space, for wedding receptions, and the occasional concert (though the acoustics are awful).
This weekend, however, it has been taken over by a pleasant group called The Whole Bead Show out of Nevada City. Their website can be found by clicking here.
There is something about narrow interest groups like Bead Enthusiasts that I find totally amusing and fascinating.
My friend Heidi Seward in Santa Barbara wrote to me yesterday with the following: "Just a note to say I continue to enjoy your blog, especially the photos of art and people! I am addicted and when you don’t post for a day or two, I really miss it." Now that is music to a blogger's ear, so the rest of this entry is just for you, Miss Heidi, with lots of art and people.
Near 16th and Mission is an art gallery called "THE LAB" which was having an opening for a number of artists, including my ex-next door neighbor, Kimberly Koym.
She does fairly sinister video art mixed in with cabinets, dioramas, and various scenic elements.
She's originally from Texas but went to art school in The Netherlands where she met her husband Pedro Murteira, a brilliant young artist from Lisbon, Portugal. Click here if you'd like to see some of his work.
Also part of the exhibition was a video/performance art installation by a Polish woman named Monika Weiss that was pretty cool.
She writhed around in the sheets while the live video image was projected on the wall.
Spectators were also invited to be part of the exhibit, but it was hard to compete with the artist.
Elsewhere in the room, a couple of sisters from Atlanta had put themselves naked on a pedestal.
They stayed there as bookends, looking quite decorative.
Pedro and I walked a block up Mission Street to another art opening at our friend Clark Buckner's place.
Clark and a partner took over the top floor of the Thrift Town building a year ago and have created a warren of art studios along with a couple of galleries.
The show was "guest curated" by a woman named Libby Werbel, and it was called "Comfort."
The curator had this to say:
Is the place where you live comfortable? How does personal space translate into public view? In this show, four artists investigate the fantasies and vulnerabilities at play in our ideals of home.
The usual gaggle of beautiful young people were in attendance.
And in a weird bit of synchronicity, there was another woman wrapped in a sheet on the floor.
The curator had this to say about the artist:
Gabrielle Wolodarski explores the limits and possibilities of articulating private matters in public settings. She spent the last month living in an installation at a gallery in Portland, and for Comfort has created a piece, which attempts to articulate this experience of living and creating in front of other people.
Wolodarski, huh? What are the chances that two women with Polish surnames would be on the floors of two art galleries a block away from each other in the Mission District of San Francisco?