On Sunday October 14th, Omar and I had a great afternoon traipsing through North Beach, gathering art stamps from a lineup of celebrated Bay Area artists, and discovering some of the cool local businesses the neighborhood has to offer.
Passport is an annual DIY art collecting event benefiting the San Francisco Arts Commission Galleries. Since 2009, Passport, has been bringing together a new lineup of celebrated Bay Area artists each year and inviting the public to create a limited-edition artist’s book by collecting original, artist-designed stamps in a custom edition Moleskine “passport” notebook.
Following a handy map, we visited 11 different locations, and collected 11 artist stamps to complete our passports. (If you missed the event, you can still follow the map and see some of the best North Beach has to offer….local establishments hand-picked by San Francisco Art Commission!)
1. The first artist, Stephanie Syjuco, was located in the lovely Washington Square, one of San Francisco’s three original parks, established around 1850. It’s the perfect spot to bring a picnic from one of the neighborhood’s many restaurants, cafes, or markets. A great place for people watching, throwing a Frisbee, or catching an impromptu jam session by some of the cities many musicians, this picturesque park also has a playground for the kids. Across from the park’s northern edge is the church of Saints Peter and Paul, completed in 1924.
About Stephanie: STEPHANIE SYJUCO creates large-scale spectacles of collected cultural objects, cumulative archives, and temporary vending installations, often with an active public component that invites viewers to directly participate as producers or distributors. Working primarily in sculpture and installation, her projects leverage open-source systems, shareware logic, and flows of capital, creating frictions between high ideals and everyday materials. This has included starting a global collaborative project with crochet crafters to counterfeit high-end consumer goods; presenting a parasitic art counterfeiting event, “COPYSTAND: An Autonomous Manufacturing Zone” for Frieze Projects, London (2009); and “Shadowshop,” an alternative vending outlet embedded at SFMOMA exploring the ways in which artists are navigating the production, consumption, and dissemination of their work (2010-11). (Source: Artist Statement)
2. Jenifer Wofford was stationed at the eclectic Bottle Cap, a friendly, casual, affordable, funky, and totally SF eatery, featuring ingredient-driven American cuisine by Chef/Owner Dane Boryta and his wife/co-owner Liz Ferro. This is a great spot for adults and little ones with a fun, funky, and fresh cocktail selection, and a kid-friendly menu featuring both grilled cheese sandwiches and a fancy mac and cheese that will make anyone from five to fifty smile.
About Jenifer: Happily, I have no quick, one-word answer to the “what kind of art do you make” question: the questions that provoke my projects necessitate varied approaches, from visual and performance strategies to teaching and curatorial work. My work often plays with notions of difference, hybridity, liminality and authenticity. It’s often governed by the creative slapstick that occurs when aesthetic values blunder into cultural frictions and global inequities. I do what I can to make work that is absurd, irreverent, imaginative, honest and political, employing as many strategies as seem appropriate. (Source: Artist Statement)
3. David Huffman at Double Punch, a toy collector’s haven – a place where cool toys, merchandise and art harvested from designers worldwide, can be found under one roof. Double Punch also features a gallery space in the mezzanine level featuring art and exhibitions from local artists.
About David: Known as a provocateur, Huffman creates dense psychological worlds that meld social commentary and science fiction. His paintings operate between figuration and abstraction, between narrative and pure formalism.Since the beginning of his career in the mid-1990s, Huffman has explored themes of politics, race, power and conflict, often utilizing controversial imagery. Watermelons, pyramids, UFOs and his distinctive astronaut minstrel figures (“traumanauts”) populate his paintings and make powerful allusions to African-American life. These humanoid explorers, cartoonish in their rendering, are poignant symbols for cultural homelessness, discovery and the plight of black folks as they negotiate an embattled past and an uncertain future. (Source: Art in America via Patricia Sweetow Gallery)
4. Michael Bartalos at Goorin Brother’s Hat Makers, a family business that came to San Francisco in 1949. Today, Goorin Brothers is led by Cassel’s great grandson who remains dedicated to the art of bold hat making by crafting hats inspired by San Francisco’s rich artistic community.
Omar shows artist Michael Bartalos his newest tooth while he gets his passport stamped.
About Michael: He produces limited print editions, artist’s books, sculptural assemblages, and works extensively in the graphic arts in the U.S., Europe and Japan. Bartalos characteristically draws on science, geography, history and language in merging bold graphic elements with letterforms, digital media with traditional printmaking methods, and sculpture with book form. His projects utilize laser cutting technologies, perforated metals, neoprene, wire, fastening hardware and handmade papers, often creating narratives supplemented by his own text. (Source: Artist Statement)
About Kelly: Working in acrylic, collage, spray paint, pencil, pen and ink, gold leaf and some secret sauce, the experimental, yet classically grounded works live somewhat comfortably in a space between graphic expression, stylized representation, surrealism, and sketch. The patina of age and calligraphic drawing methods lend further depth to her story-filled worlds. The simplicity of the messages are enhanced by the underlying vitality and complex layering within the work. In her portraits, Tunstall renders stylized female figures and their adaptations to environment: nests built of painted boards held together by drawn nails or far off planets. The physical form and its accompanying exterior become a mirror for internal thought processes and turmoil. (Source: Artist’s Bio)
6. Jeremy Fish at Al’s Attire, who specialize in custom suits, coats, hats, shoes, dresses, and much more. This shop is so charming, and filled with beautiful, unique items that will last a lifetime. They also offer repair services, so you can keep wearing the things you love forever!
About Jeremy: At first glance, Fish’s images seem to be rooted in an alternate world — a world where gnomes travel via saddled dachshund-back and birds of all nations hatch adorned with the heads and hairstyles of every human stereotype imaginable. The bold, precise outlines give his ideas an immediate impact, but it’s the aftertaste that really cuts deep. Everything comes with a story. I have never known Jeremy to create something without a reason for it to exist and an accompanying tale. His pictures are built from the simplest ingredients, ingredients with which the everyman can identify. Fish documents his every day, every trip, every friend, and every experience within his art to the point where one could line up his life’s work, decode the riddles, and have a clear idea of where he’s been, how he felt about it, the types of folk he chopped it up with, and what lies ahead. (Source: Artist’s Bio)
7. Walter Logue at The Beat Museum, which is home to an extensive collection of Beat memorabilia, including original manuscripts and first editions, letters, personal effects and cultural ephemera. The Beat Museum is dedicated to spreading the spirit of The Beat Generation, which we define as tolerance, compassion and having the courage to live your individual truth.
Jackson Pollock’s Social Security Number.
About Walter: Walter Logue’s minimalist work explores the means of conveying messages through manipulated text, arrangement and literal interpretation. His three dimensional works consist primarily of white text upon the face of solid black geometric forms. The focus in Walter Logue’s work can be as basic as a single word, a popular catch phrase, or song lyrics. Undertones of humor are revealed but it is the apparent aspects of his work – scale, order, repetition and space, which further his interpretations. (Source: Incline Gallery via ArtSlant)
8. The stamp designed by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, was given out by volunteers, happily seated between two beloved North Beach establishments, City Lights Bookstore, a landmark independent bookstore and publisher that specializes in world literature, the arts, and progressive politics, founded in 1953 by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter D. Martin and Vesuvio, established in 1948, which remains a historical monument to jazz, poetry, and the good life of the Beat Generation.
About Lawrence: As poet, playwright, publisher, and activist, Lawrence Ferlinghetti helped to spark the San Francisco literary renaissance of the 1950s and the subsequent “Beat” movement. Like the Beats, Ferlinghetti felt strongly that art should be accessible to all people, not just a handful of highly educated intellectuals. (Source: Poetry Foundation)
9. Bert Bergin and his crew were set up at one of my favorite art supply stores in the city, the employee-owned, Artist & Craftsman Supply, a super-friendly, well-stocked, and reasonably priced art and creative supplies store.
About Bert: My work amalgamates scientific, mystical and historical information to form a new spiritual belief system. I use depictions of humanity, nature and animals as characters in an evolving mythology that provides vignettes to the potential meaning of this system. My interest lies in creating an experience where one witnesses a foreign and rapturous otherness, an unfamiliar ecstatic reality that is never fully revealed and delves into the more horrific side of metaphysics. (Source: Artist Statement)
About Chelsea: I am fascinated by the differences and similarities between cultures. There are many complicated aspects to individuality and community, but when it boils down, we’re all people who exist somewhere. The narrative is daily life. While my drawings aren’t based on real events, I’d like to think these people are out there and we just haven’t met yet. Some day we’ll meet. (Source: Kearny Street Workshop)
11. The last artist on the tour was Lauren Dicioccio at La Boutique, l’Art et la Mode, a high-fashion boutique with a European flair, this spot is in the exquisite Jackson Square, with its architecture of brick and ornate cast iron buildings from the 1850s and 1860s, this historic district is known as an art, design and antiques destination.
About Lauren: My work investigates the physical/tangible beauty of commonplace mass-produced media-objects, most recently: the newspaper, magazines, office papers and writing pads, plastic bags, 35 mm slides. These media are becoming obsolete, replaced by the invisible efficiency of various technologies. In some cases, this transition is a good thing- faster transmission and distribution of information, streamlined systems, openness to user input, less waste. But a hole is left behind by the disappearance of these everyday objects. What will happen when we no longer touch information? When newsprint does not rub off onto our fingertips? When we no longer write longhand? The tedious handiwork and obsessive care I employ to create my work aims to remind the viewer of these simple but intimate pieces of everyday life and to provoke a pang of nostalgia for the familiar physicality of these objects. (Source: Artist Statement)
I hope you enjoyed learning about these very talented Bay Area artists and some of the must-see local establishments of North Beach. Omar and I had an amazing day and really enjoyed meeting all the artists and the local creative retail talent. For more exciting, local art events that support and reinforce art and community, check out the San Francisco Art Commission Galleries website for regular updates.