Bernal Physicist Raising Funds to Build Giant Fire-Breathing Mechanical Art

Neighbor Matthew is an Bernal Heights physicist and artist who’s building an ambitious, musical-kinetic fire art sculpture. The piece is called Torch Song, and it will be a 15-foot structure with nine flame-heads that can move independently.

To complete the project, Neighbor Matthew has organized a crowdfunding campaign. He tells Bernalwood:

Torch Song is a 15′ musical kinetic fire art sculpture. I’ve been working on it for about two years now. I pretty much started from scratch; I didn’t know anything about fire art, and knew only as much about metal machining as I learned doing a doctorate in physics.

Last year I formed an organization, Hydrocarbon Collective, and started ramping up to try to get it out to Burning Man. From there hopefully we’ll get to bring it out to other venues in the bay area. We now have a crew of five people (and several occasional volunteers) who work out of the Box Shop in Hunter’s Point on weekends and Wednesday nights. (Our team includes one of the instigators of the Cardboard Animal Parade.) We’re always looking for more help if people want to pitch in, especially if you’re an experienced welder, or want to work on electronics.

Torch Song is a 15′ diamond (a double tetrahedron, to be exact) which will have nine independently moving flame heads. We conceived of it without consideration for practicality, safety, or common sense, and we are dangerously close to making it a reality. And, in honor of the absurd times we live in, we will be donating 10% of our proceeds from this fundraiser to the ACLU.

You can learn more about the project and donate at Neighbor Matthew’s Hydrocarbon Collective crowdfunding page.

IMAGES: Top, TheHydrocarbon Collective team with a flame unit at the box shop. Below, rendering of the proposed Torch Song piece. Images courtesy of Neighbor Matthew

New Mosaic Completed at Esmeralda Slide Park

After the amazing re-renovation, and the successful community crowdfunding effort, Bernal Neighbor Joan “The Whirlwind” Carson says the new, geo-cool sidewalk mosaic atop the Esmeralda Slide Park is now complete.

Neighbor Joan tells Bernalwood:

With all the fanfare I can muster, I can proudly announce “The Locator” has been successfully installed in the Plaza at Esmeralda Slide Park. For those of you who don’t know what ” The Locator” is, be prepared to see a 9 foot diameter mosaic tile installation in the Plaza’s sidewalk.

Although the installation took but 5 days, March 8-12, it has been in the works since September 2015. I had it in my head that the Plaza would be a great place to have some kind of signage to help folks know where the Park is in relation to the surrounding area. I floated the idea by Nancy Windesheim, my organizing partner who happens to be a graphic artist extraordinaire. I came up with a concept drawing and Nancy translated it into a graphic image.

In January 2016, the initial design was embraced by the Department of Public Works as part of their continued effort in renovating Esmeralda Slide Park. I searched for local tile artists who could fabricate the design into a walkable surface and discovered Rachel Rodi, an accomplished tile artist whose background included other walkable surfaces in public settings.

Nancy and I raised the funds for Rachel’s fabrication through a GoFundMe in July-August 2016. So many of you gave…. 125 donors to be exact. Josh Arce brought in 2 big donors and helped get us fiscal sponsorship from the Laborers’ Community Service And Training Foundation.

Esmeralda mosaic fan club watching the installation

So here we are today with this beautiful piece of Public Art. For me, seeing it is a daily reminder of what “We” can collectively create when we bring together community, government, corporate and non-profit entities.

Special thanks to Neighbors Joan and Nancy, and everyone who worked or contributed to make the glorious and symbolically important Esmeralda Slide Park awesome again.

PHOTOS: Courtesy of Neighbor Joan

Cardboard Animal Parade Brings Purposeful Pointlessness to Precita Park

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The Cardboard Animal Parade that invaded Precita Park on Saturday evening turned out to be the perfect event, at the perfect time, in the perfect spirit to remind many Bernalese who we really are. As a dozen or so cardboard creatures milled about near the benches in front of HIllside Supper Club, a ragtag marching band tuned up to play, and Bernal neighbors of all ages came out to enjoy the ad hoc festivities.

Your Bernalwood editor tracked down Paul, one of the artists who helped coordinate the parade. Paul confessed that he’d had some anxiety about organizing something so frivolous at a time when the state of the world seems so grim, but in the end, he said, it seemed like the right thing to do.

He was right. The willfully apolitical Cardboard Animal Parade provided a much-needed reminder that we’re not alone, and we’ll all get through this together.

Bernalwood shared a live video broadcast just as the parade was getting underway, and we witnessed the the opening ceremonies, the band, and the emergence of the Parade Butterfly from his crumpled cardboard cocoon. If you couldn’t make it, here’s what you missed:

Special thanks to everyone who helped make this happen. It was wonderful!

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics

Saturday Eve: Ad Hoc Cardboard Animal Parade Starts in Precita Park

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Local artists are putting together an ad hoc parade that will gather in Precita Park on Saturday evening, February 4, at 7 pm.

Naturally, it will be a Cardboard Animal Parade, and from Precita Park the procession will make its way to Dolores Park starting at about 8 pm. Kids, pets, and cardboard creatures of any species are welcome. Artist Paul tells Bernalwood:

This is a collaboration between a few people, partly because we had a large amount of cardboard without a purpose. I have hosted a few build days at my studio and worked on several pieces, so now we want to invite people to bring out anything they make.

We’ve also put a call out to some musician friends, so we expect to have at least one marching band. Since we started working I saw this video of a group called “Cardboardia” doing similar stuff on a large scale, and I like it very much.

Here are the details:

We’re throwing a parade Feb 4 at 7 PM!
Wanna build stuff? Wanna march?

We’re going to a have a parade.
One with large cardboard animal floats, that we are going to make.
We could have a reason for this but, really, there isn’t one. (We know there are a lot of important social / political actions going on. This very explicitly isn’t one of them.)

We are pulling inspiration from the spirit of Mardi Gras Krewe’s – lightly organized with a strong emphasis on fun. Our unifying theme: Animals.

We intend to meet up at 7pm and start moving sometime around 8pm, and our planned route winds through the Mission to the Castro.

PHOTOS Courtesy of the 2017 Cardboard Animal Parade

Bernal Filmmaker Joe Talbot Screens “American Paradise” at Sundance

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Neighbor Joe Talbot, the Bernalese filmmaker behind the much-anticipated “Last Black Man in San Francisco” feature film, took a glamorous detour from that project last weekend to premier a short film at Sundance.

Neighbor Joe’s film is called “American Paradise,” and IndieWire called it one of the “must-see shorts” at Sundance this year:

Joe Talbot’s “American Paradise” brings attention to itself by referencing Trump’s America in its official synopsis: “A desperate man in Trump’s America tries to shift his luck with the perfect crime in this story inspired by true events.”

“I think the film feels especially relevant because of what Trump’s election has brought to the forefront for people,” said Talbot. “But in truth, the actual events took place over five years ago. And what the film deals with is as old as the country itself. Even as a story, when I stumbled upon it, I felt like I had discovered some great lost folk tale. It’s drenched in all of this American symbolism, but it just feels like a bizarre campfire story. That’s part of why we chose to tell it the way we did, as a myth of sorts told by a grandfather to his grandchildren.”

James Brooks plays the weekend fisherman idly narrating the tale of an amateur criminal who is more than clueless. Talbot’s writing talent is this short’s secret weapon, and the narration Brooks provides is practically Coen Brothers-esque.

One of Filmmaker’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film 2015, San Francisco-native Talbot attended the Sundance Institute’s Screenwriters Lab with his soon-to-be-produced debut feature, “The Last Black Man in San Francisco,” in 2016. “To be returning to Sundance the following year with a movie feels like a dream,” said Talbot.

There are a few more details about “American Paradise” over at Filmmaker Magazine.

Big, glittery, red-carpet congrats to Neighbor Joe and his entire creative team. You can keep up with their work by following “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” on Facebook.

PHOTO: “American Paradise screening at Sundance, via the The Last Black Man in San Francisco Facebook page.

Bernal Artist Turns Graphic Design Into Peaceful Protest

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Bernal Neighbor Hope Meng is is putting her design skills to work political change. She tells Bernalwood:

Wanted to let you know about my own little protest happening over here on unassuming Banks Street.

I’m a graphic designer living, working, and raising my kids with Bernal Hill as my backyard. For the past 2 years, I’ve been working on a personal passion called Monogram Project. It’s a slightly insane typography exercise to draw every combination of 2 letters possible with our 26-letter alphabet.

Following the absolutely heartbreaking results of the 2016 election, it suddenly became clear to me what this project wanted to be: my own form of peaceful resistance. I launched monogramproject.com on Inauguration Day. ALL proceeds for the next 4 years (please let it be only 4 years) will be donated to organizations that work to ensure our civil liberties and protect the equality of all people. I’ll choose a different worthy organization each quarter and announce it on my website.

I am taking my broken heart and I am making it into art.

AR

IMAGES: Courtesy of Hope Meng

Tonight: Bernal Heights Artists Reception at Inclusions Gallery

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Lisa Moro from the fabulously locavore Inclusions Gallery on Cortland is having a reception tonight, Thursday Oct. 20 for the neighbors featured in her annual show about artists from Bernal Heights. Naturally, you’re invited!

Lisa tells Bernalwood:

Select 7: Bernal Heights Artists, marks Inclusions Gallery eighth year curating an annual group show, devoted exclusively to neighborhood artists. On view are new and exciting works by seven artists. All will be in attendance at Thursday evening’s reception. Come, meet the artists and check out the entire show (the back room too).

Once a year Inclusions Gallery curates a group show especially focused on the talented artists who call Bernal Heights home. In this year’s exhibit you’ll find an excellent offering of new and recent works by seven artists: Copper plate etchings by David Avery, Ink and acrylic paintings by Glenn Hirsch, Mixed media works by Pamela Lanza, Oil paintings by Linda Larson, Oil and Mixed media paintings by Catherine Mackey, Encaustic and Mixed media paintings by Jenny Phillips, and Oil paintings by Aaron Zube.

Come by and meet the artists during a reception

Thursday, October 20th
6:30 – 8:30 PM
Inclusions Gallery – 627 Cortland (at Anderson)
Light refreshments will be served.

The exhibit runs through November 6th.

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PHOTO: Late Afternoon on Cortland, oil on panel by Bernal artist Aaron Zube, now on display at Inclusions Gallery. Photo by Telstar Logistics