Artists’ Open Studios in Bernal Heights This Weekend

Hey art fans! It’s Artist Open  Studios time again, and it’s happening in the ‘Wood:

San Francisco comes alive with art this October as ArtSpan presents its 36th Annual SF Open Studios – the oldest and largest event of its kind in the country – now with an added fifth weekend. From Dogpatch to Fort Mason, the Mission to Ocean Beach, each weekend features new neighborhoods to explore as more than 900 emerging and established artists open their studios to show and sell their work during the month-long event. It’s an unrivaled opportunity for art patrons, collectors, and admirers to connect one on one with artists, get a glimpse of the working artist’s life, and to find their next true art love.

The monthlong event kicks off in Bernal Heights on Saturday Oct 1 and Sunday Oct 2 from 11 am to 6 pm, and here’s the lineup:

105 Aaron Vonk, 224 Richland Ave., Leese/Murray, Painting
106 Michael Scagliotti, 673 Moultrie St., Ogden/Tompkins, Book Arts
107a Susan Black, 401 Prentiss St. @ Jarboe, Painting
107b Pauline Crowther Scott, 401 Prentiss St., Jarboe/ 121 Tomkins, Painting
108 Erin K. Malone, 220 Bonview St., Cortland/Eugenia, Photography
109 Mark Monsarrat, 170 Bocana St., Eugenia/Powhattan, Painting
110 Secession Art & Design 3361 Mission St. @ Virginia

110a Jeff Klarin of Bughouse, Mixed Media
110b Colleen Mauer, Wearable Art / Jewelry
110c Heather N. Robinson, Mixed Media
110d Hilary Williams, Printmaking
110e Rachel Anne Znerold, Painting

115 Virginia Barrett, 615 San Jose Ave., #2, Valencia/28th St., Mixed Media
116 Beryl Landau, 3290 Harrison St., Norwich/Pecita, Painting

Download this weekend’s map and artist roster

IMAGES: Wren by Heather Robinson; City Vision by Beryl Landau

Tonight! Buy Chicken John’s Book, Help Save His Space for ‘Odd and Unlikely Artworks’

On Cesar Chavez Street near Mission, there’s a prominent mural on a jaunty red building that shouts advice to all passers-by: “Fail…to WIN!”

That slogan is the subtitle of The Book of the IS, a new book written by the building’s owner, Chicken John Rinaldi.

I’ve read it, and I was genuinely inspired by its rallying cry to embrace the “Is” — that which “allows and accepts and laughs and courts” — and reject the “Un,” which “prevents and contains and moderates and disdains.”

The key to pulling off this trick? Don’t be afraid to fail. “The minute we’re as comfortable with failing,” Rinaldi writes, “as we are with winning — the moment we’re in it for the experience and not the victory lap — is the moment we’re free.”

A showman provocateur whose multifarious capers have increased the colorfulness of our city and Bernalwood in particular (anyone remember the Odeon Bar?), Chicken John’s most recent claim to fame is his (failed) mayoral campaign in 2007.

But for the past five years or so, he has quietly put on all manner of interesting artistic and cultural events ­— oracular Q&A salons, trapeze classes, puppet shows, mayoral debates, you name it — at 3359 Cesar Chavez Street, the aforementioned jaunty red building. Quietly as in, you know, lacking all the permits and stuff.

That space is now at a crossroads, and Chicken John needs help. He needs you to buy his awesome book, either online at or, preferably, in person tonight, Sept. 30, 7 p.m.-2 a.m., at a spectacular free event at 111 Minna and the surrounding block (the street will be closed to accommodate over 100 performers and god knows what kind of mayhem).

Did we mention that the book is an objet d’art? And that 550 of the 2,500 copies in existence sport handmade slip covers by renowned street artist Swoon as well as a smattering of local artists? You can even choose (for a slightly higher price) to have your book include a coupon worth one “anything,” redeemable directly from Chicken John. “It’s gonna kill me,” he says, “but I’m serious about it. I will do anything to save the warehouse.”

If he can raise the dough, Chicken John will be able to (a) keep his warehouse and (b) make an honest art space out of it via the nonprofit he created: the San Francisco Institute for Possibility. “We want to champion odd and unlikely artworks,” he says. “There is so much cool stuff that wants to happen there that I have to pass on because we are just not legal enough. Together, we can put the warehouse’s problems away and focus on doing shows, manufacturing culture, and battling the onslaught of mediocrity.”

Hear, hear! Help the man fail at failure.

PHOTO: Neil Berrett

Cops Bust Bernal Bike Burglar


The SFPD has adopted a new strategy in the War on Bicycle Theft: The cops search for pilfered bikes amid the stolen merchandise offered for sale around Sixth/Mission in SoMa, then try to trace the stolen bikes back to burglary or theft reports from other neighborhoods around the City.

This week, the strategy paid off — leading to the arrest of a Bernal Heights bicycle thief. Mike Adax of the SF Examiner got the story:

The victim, an Anza Vista resident, found his stolen bicycle listed for sale on the Internet and called police. The listing led police to a pawn shop in the first block of Sixth Street in the South of Market district.

Police then learned that a 46-year-old Bernal Heights man had pawned the bicycle the day after he allegedly stole it on Aug. 16, Park Station police said.

On Saturday, police went to the Bernal Heights man’s home, but did not find their man. Instead they arrested another occupant on a felony warrant.

The following day, the suspected bike thief called police on his own, admitted to the burglary and was later arrested at his home and charged with stolen property and first-degree burglary, police said.

PHOTO: Bike in Bernal Heights, by juicyrai

Susie Bright Remembers a Life on Bessie Street

Susie Bright is a writer/activist who edited On Our Backs, an influential ‘zine about female and lesbian sexuality that was published during the 1980s. During the heyday of On Our Backs, Bright lived in a small apartment at 25A Bessie Street that also served as the magazine’s editorial office and photo studio.

Honey Lee Cottrell, Bright’s former partner and collaborator, has lived in the apartment on Bessie Street ever since. But on Friday she will be evicted. To mark the sad event, Bright wrote a short essay about years spent in the apartment, and she calls her recollection the “Annals of Bessie Street: From Revolution to Eviction.”

This Friday I am losing my long-standing home in San Francisco: 25A Bessie Street.

My first books Herotica and Susie Sexpert’s Lesbian Sex World were written inside this little nest. I grew up as a young woman in this apartment, my daughter grew up here from infancy to adulthood.

The best and most outrageous of On Our Backs pictures were conceived and often shot at Bessie Street. This is where Honey Lee Cottrell, my partner, and OOB’s staff photographer, became a legend.

We had a tiny garden that got a few rays of sun. We turned a roving green briar into a wandering rose. I held my first porno pajama parties there, which later became my big screen road shows: How to Read a Dirty Movie and All Girl Action. The thumb-size cactus we planted outside on the sidewalk grew into a behemoth.

We raised kids here— Honey Lee captured so many of our children’s best moments.

Some things I can’t get out of my mind. Fanny Fatale demonstrated “how to female ejaculate” on our kitchen linoleum one afternoon, and I said we should never clean that spot again. I think our apartment should be made into a feminist historical monument.

I moved to Bessie Street with my girlfriend, Honey Lee Cottrell, when I was 23 years old— and she was 37. It’s a tiny basement apartment on the steep north face of Bernal Hill. The bathtub is in the kitchen, which looks out over all of downtown and the Mission district. The kitchen windows are the one place where the light pours in.

Our first landlord was unsure if I could qualify as a tenant, because at 5’10”, I had to duck to get into some of the corners of the low-ceilinged apartment. I assured her I could— at $400 a month, the price was just right for the two of us. In the early 1980s, Bernal was still a poor and working class, multi-racial neighborhood, adjacent to “Needle Park,” which nowadays is filled with bouncy houses and miniature-dog birthday parties.

I moved out of Bessie Street when I was 30— we broke up after seven years— but I never “left.” I moved a few blocks away, and when Aretha was born, she went back and forth between our two homes. That never ended, no matter how many miles I moved away. The last two years, my daugther lived at Bessie Street with Honey, graduating from college.

Early this winter, the Bessie Street building was sold to a new owner, and after 30 years: “Eviction.” Ironically, it was bought by a wealthy man who wanted to make a home for his young son in the city who otherwise could never afford to rent a place…

There’s lots more at Susie’s site, including many more images from the pages from On Our Backs (NSFW). It’s a poignant tribute to a memorable time and an important place in the evolution of the Bernal Heights we all live in today.

Farewell, 25A Bessie Street.

PHOTO: Honey Lee Cottrell via Susie Bright.
Hat tip: Rita Roti

The Plywood Comes Off the New Precita Park Cafe

After many months of construction and veiled mystery, the plywood has been removed from the facade of the forthcoming Precita Park Cafe at the eastern end of the park. As Bernalwood previously reported:

The former Riteway Market will soon be home to the Precita Park Cafe. What will that be like? The precise details are unknown, but the new restaurant will serve food and light drink. It’s a project of Rachel Herbert, who also operates the Dolores Park Cafe and the Duboce Park Cafe, so it’s safe to assume the Precita Park Cafe will be a classy joint. There’s been talk that Precita Park Cafe may have a kid-friendly emphasis, which would be swell, because the cafe is just across the street from the uber-chic Precita Park playground.

Our friend Tim Dickinson poked his head in at the Precita Park Cafe today to do some sleuthing, and he shared these particulars:

Precita Park Cafe opening in “3-4 weeks” per dude inside — promised beer on tap: “they have the license and everything”

Sounds good. But as I drove home tonight, I was able to snap this spycam shot of the interior. Looks promising, but still much work to be done!

PHOTOS: Exterior, Bernal Journal. Interior, Telstar Logistics

Help Our Senior Seismologist Create a Custom Calendar of Local Landmarks

Julian Lozos is Bernalwood’s Senior Seismologist. When he’s not providing up-to-the-minute insight about local earthquakes or extolling the virtues of our beloved chert, he also dabbles in illustration. Julian’s latest project is a Kickstarter effort to create an illustrated calendar of anthropomorphized San Francisco landmarks.

Whaaaa? Let’s let Julian explain:

The gist of this project is San Francisco and anthropomorphism. These are my interpretations of what many of San Francisco’s major landmarks would look like (and act like) if they were humans. Anthropomorphism as an artistic and literary device goes waaay back, so why not extend it to some of the structures and icons whose personalities contribute so much to the character of the larger City?

Thanks to Burrito Justice for coining the term and then letting me run with it.

Why San Francisco, then?

Because I’m madly and hopelessly in love with the place, and I know I’m not the only one. Even those who are not so infatuated as I am have to admit it’s a pretty darn picturesque city.

Ok, wording aside, what is this project?

It’s a 2012 calendar featuring drawings of personified landmarks in their setting within the cityscape. It’s kind of a send-up of those calendars of pretty pictures of famous landmarks that you see in every gift shop in any city: that kind of scenery, but replacing the actual landmark with a human character based on that landmark. Since this is a San Francisco calendar specifically, in addition to including all the standard US holidays, it will also have key dates in the City’s history included in the day grid itself.

The final print size will be 8.5×11 inch pages – 11×17 once it’s unfolded. The prints will be in full color on glossy paper, with a glossy cardstock cover. They’ll be bound with a staple and have a hole punched in the top for ease in hanging. They will not be individually shrink-wrapped, because that’s not green at all, and this is San Francisco.

Lots more detail, and explanation about how to participate here (and don’t miss Julian’s video at the top).

Oh, and what about Bernal Heights? Julian has Bernal covered — only there’s no anthropomorphism involved. Fans of caninemorphism will the thrilled, however, because Julian represents Bernal as a dog with Sutrito Tower markings… naturally: