Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Friday Art Party 3: Love and Death

The final art party was at the Bucheon Gallery on Grove Street next to Citizen Cake, which was a memorial party for the recently deceased theatre director, artist, and health educator Bill Wolf (1947-2008).

I never met Bill during his 20 years in San Francisco, but it turned out that his life had intersected a number of friends in profound ways over the years.

By the end of the evening, the conclusion that he was one of the most interesting, influential, and just plain generous artists that San Francisco has ever known was inescapable.

Bill grew up in an Evangelical family in Sanger, near Fresno, and when his family learned about his gay sexual orientation in the late 1960s, he moved to Seattle.

There he joined and created a number of theatrical troupes, including The Ensemble Street Theatre Company.

He also met Russell Ellison (above, in Wolf's Super8mm magnum opus, "Rocket to Mars"), and the two spent the next 39 years as a loving couple.

The duo came down to San Francisco in 1971 at the invitation of a friend to act in a legendary theatrical disaster near Union Square called the "Dr. W.C. Waterhorney Traveling Medicine Show," and though the show wasn't a success, they decided to stay in town.

What came across during the reminescences at the party was that Bill Wolf was the hub of an amazing number of projects and adventures, from building floats for everything from the Columbus Day Parade to building sets for "Boogie Nights" era porno films to creating organic artistic communities that changed the lives of everyone involved.

His support of other artists was another theme that sounded throughout the evening, including an inspired parody of Judy Chicago's "Dinner Party" art installation called Maria Manhattan's "Box Lunch."

In 1975, AAA Productions created the first full-length Super-8mm sound film called "Rocket to Mars"...

...starring all of their friends, lots of miniature models, and awesome sets...

...which looked sort of like "Queen of Outer Space" meets "Forbidden Planet" under the influence of Carmen Miranda.

Half of the cast, who hadn't seen the movie in 20 years, were at the Bucheon Gallery on Friday evening, where they were able to watch themselves caught in a flickering wave of time.


momo said...

Thanks for sharing the story of this marvelous man.

billyking said...

Nicely done, i'd would like to use some of your blog images in furthering documentation of Bill Wolf and of course links to you blog.....
billy king

Civic Center said...

Dear Billy King: Please use whatever imagery you want for any purpose whatsoever, and when you finish your documentation about Bill Wolf, do send a link. I'd love to see what people have to say who actually knew him.

Unknown said...

Spent a lot of time with Bill at the studio on 14th Street. Bill used to use me to do the printing for his varioous projects. I would do anything (within biologically preferential reason) for him and the gang. I loved folowing Maria around like a lost puppy and hollering But, Maria, I love you!" I think she understood the humor. What fun!