Night Bloom — A New San Francisco “Tradition” Sparks Up the Nightime

Step into a world unlike any other in Night Bloom, a nighttime exhibition debuting at the Conservatory of Flowers on November 22. Light and sound will transform the iconic San Francisco landmark into a glowing landscape of interactive and immersive experiences. Guests are invited to embark on a journey through the tropics where cotton candy sunsets are abundant, rare and unusual flowers blossom in the moonlight, and fireflies come out to play. The exhibition will run on select evenings from November 22, through January 5, 2020. Tickets are now available at

nightbloomDeveloped in partnership with Lightswitch, a consortium of internationally recognized lighting, media, and visual designers, guests are invited to enjoy the Conservatory wrapped with dazzling lighting continues for another year. Night Bloom includes six site-specific installations dispersed throughout the Conservatory’s wood-and-glass walls, with an illuminated Conservatory and interactive displays welcoming guests. Inspired by the institution’s internationally renowned botanical collection, the expansive nighttime exhibit is experienced through a wandering path where guests of all ages are encouraged to partake in a living playground powered by illumination.nightbloom

Dazzling and mesmerizing visuals will inspire and celebrate flora and fauna of the tropics, exploration, creativity, and imagination. Highlights include:

Majestic palms radiating with prismatic rays reflect in the glimmer of glowing Amazonian ponds. as fireflies twinkle in a lush jungle.

“Night Bloom is an incredibly exciting reason to visit Golden Gate Park after dark. This stunning intersection of art, technology and nature is a feast for the senses and allows visitors to enjoy the Conservatory of Flowers in a whole new way,” said Phil Ginsburg, SF Rec and Park General Manager.

For twenty five years, Lightswitch has been committed to changing the way people experience their world. Creating unforgettable experiences where people live, work, learn and play, Lightswitch has installed light art exhibits at Descanso Gardens, the Morton Arboretum, and museums and events all over the world.

Tickets for Night Bloom are now on sale. The limited engagement begins November 22 and runs until January 5, 2020 from 5pm-11pm (Closed Thanksgiving, November 28th.).

Ticket prices are $29 per person (Advance) $34 (Day of Event) and free for children (8 and under). Member ticket prices are $20. Bloom Lounge (21+) Advance Tix: $75 At the Door: $80 Members $60.

November 2019


Rides into the Cow Palace

Dust off your hats and get your spurs on! The Wild, Wild, West returns to the Bay Area as the annual Grand National Rodeo, Livestock Exposition and Horse Show opens at the Cow Palace next week. Now in its 72nd year, the Grand National Rodeo will celebrate the time-honored tradition of America’s West by presenting the best of the best in the competitive sport of rodeo.

The two-weekend event, October 11-12 and 18-19, features traditional rodeo events including bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, bull riding and barrel racing.

During the livestock exposition, real farm equipment and animals are on site with interactive displays to learn about how food is grown. Exhibitors will show cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, and rabbits, along with photography and fine art inspired by agriculture and western lifestyle.

Other highlights include:

First Responder Fridays, October 11th and 18th – All First Responders with a valid professional badge/ID can receive up to four (4) free tickets to Friday nights only. Redeem at the box office.

PRCA Rodeo show 7:30-9:30pm, nightly

Western marketplace daily from 2 -11 pm

Classic Western BBQ with down-home comfort food

Nightly LIVE music by Country Music Singer Chad Bushnell.

Equestrian competitions

“Tough Enough to Wear Pink” day in support of breast cancer awareness month

Military Day (GNR partners with organizations that provide services for Veterans)

Mechanical bull rides and more!

Ticket prices are $25 for adults Dress Circle, $45 for Box Seats and $14 for children and seniors, and can be purchased online at or in-person at the box office. Although tickets must be purchased for the Grand National Rodeo in the main arena, the Livestock Exposition, Horse Show, Interactive Agricultural Area, and Marketplace are FREE and open to the public. For more details or contact or call ٤١٥-٤١٤-٤١٠٠.

The Cow Palace is located at 2600 Geneva Avenue, in Daly City.

About the Grand National Rodeo:

The Cow Palace was built in 1941 as the 1-A District Agricultural Association, and as part of its mission produces the annual Grand National Livestock Exposition, Horse Show and Rodeo. It is the West’s most prestigious western lifestyle event attracting thousands of participants and fans from seven western

The Cow Palace Arena & Event Center serves as a venue for a variety of events including concerts, festivals, exhibitions, consumer shows, trade shows and sports; as well as a variety of community, religious and charitable events. Now celebrating their 77th anniversary, the Cow Palace continues to serve the needs of the San Francisco Bay Area, and the State of California.

October 2019

Mostly Rock ‘N’ Roll Exhibit Rocks the Westside

This past year, the music world lost a living legend, ‘the queen of soul’ Aretha Franklin. No doubt like many others, her legacy will live on. But that can only happen when the essence is expressed and noted. Like any art form it is important to capture both the art and the artist at their best. This could be said of another art form, photography. And, this past January 19 Streamline Café & Art Salon on Taraval Street featured some of photographer Steve Rapport’s best work.


Wilson aims to continue bringing more art (of all kinds) to the community. Particularly to the Westside of the City, this is a primary goal for him and the staff at Streamline. ”

As Streamline manager/owner Brent Wilson explained to the Westside Observer, “capturing emotion and feeling in a photograph is no easy feat.” Wilson was eager to speak to the WSO to share not only his enthusiasm for Rapport’s work, but the privelidge Wilson has in bringing the arts to the community. He went on further about the exhibit.

“No matter how much presence the subject of the photograph possesses, a captured image alone can still fail to convey the subject’s soul, their being.” Praising the photographer’s perspective, he added. “Steve Rapport captures who or what he photographs in a way that makes those who view his work ‘feel’ the image.”

The exhibit — (Mostly) Rock ‘N’ Roll 1980-1994 — showcased some of his well-known iconic work alongside some of his lesser known pieces, all of which were deep, and significant,” said Wilson. Whether it was from his time in London as a freelance photographer for publications like Rolling Stone, Vox, The Guardian and Sounds or on other assignments, Rapport kept pursuing photography as his artistic venue. “During this time Steve also produced work for many record labels, such as CBS, Warner Brothers, RCA, EMI and Polydor.”

Wilson aims to continue bringing more art (of all kinds) to the community. Particularly to the Westside of the City, this is a primary goal for him and the staff at Streamline.

Fears of gentrification occurring in the Westside of the City don’t alarm him. Wilson sees it simply as a form of revitalization. He and fellow owner/manager Dion Garcia are pleased that for the past two years, Streamline has been continuing in its endeavor while maintaining a presence in the Parkside/Sunset District neighborhood.

“When I got word that the space on Taraval was available I just sensed this was the right time,” he said.

As an architect and building designer as well as an artist and musician, Wilson believed such a venture was possible. With the partnership of Garcia and help of Dave Quinby and others his instincts were spot on.

“Regardless of it being out in ‘the boondocks’ said Wilson I’ve always considered the ‘Avenues’ and Ocean Beach a destination, not a dumping ground.”

He noted in years past that Golden Gate Park, the San Francisco Zoo and the long gone, but legendary Sutro Baths and Fleischaker Pool are examples of the best of what the Westside of San Francisco has to offer.

“The Westside was a destination then and it still is today, especially with regards to Ocean Beach,” he said.

“Look at how the surfing and recreation culture of the City has grown over the past few years,” added Wilson.

There are at least four surf shops in the outer-avenues area and the L-Taraval trolley line and MUNI bus system brings people to and from it every day.

Wilson has seen real estate values skyrocket over the past 20 years. And like many artists he knows from experience what it’s like to leave an area because real estate values changed the landscape. “I used to live in The Mission District,” he said. Wilson had been a musician in a band and was pursuing his artwork; that was in the early ‘90s. Rent was affordable and the pace of life there was leisurely.

interior of Streamline Cafe

But when the dot com Boom hit, as the 20th century came to a close, the Mission District, as had many other districts of the city, became prime areas for real estate development.

Wilson moved out to the avenues to the Parkside in 2004.

Like artist Doug Gorney who also lives ‘out in the Avenues’ Wilson recognized the area’s unique aspects of natural aesthetics due largely to Ocean Beach and it’s beauty. Gorney’s paintings feature the Westside of the City. He appreciates landscapes and the characteristic Doelger-style homes of the Parkside/Sunset area.

Gorney’s work was featured at Streamline in May of last year. He, Wilson and Garcia are considering another showing at some point.

Gorney likes the way the light at the oceanside creates atmosphere. And he sees it as essential along with, of course, the fog. These are ideal for painting, drawing and photography. Like Gorney, Wilson considers this ocean light special to the Westside of the City.

“For years the Westside has been an underappreciated area of San Francisco. But I think that has changed and I am so pleased to be able to be a part of Streamline,” Wilson reiterated.

He noted that even before Streamline officially opened as a café/gallery, art showings in various forms were taking place. “Whether as a musician or artist I’ve always identified with the arts, he said. This is why having a space/venue like Streamline is important for the community, I truly see it as a bridge between art and commerce.”

To learn more about Streamline Café and Art Salon at 3560 Taraval Street; as well as the upcoming exhibits visit: or call 415-504-7000.

February 2019

Rent Increases Put Arts at Risk

As students in San Francisco during its tech stardom, we have witnessed major changes in the City and we fear that skyrocketing housing prices caused in part by the tech industry, are driving the arts and culture out. The inadequacy of public resources for the arts can be seen in the uneven dispersal of arts and cultural centers throughout San Francisco. Public facilities like the African American Art and Cultural Complex, Queer Cultural Center, Bayview Opera House / Ruth Williams Memorial Theater, Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, SOMArts, and Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center, are concentrated on the eastside of the City—leaving communities and people on the western half without public cultural and arts centers.


Public (arts) facilities ... are concentrated on the eastside of the City—leaving communities and people on the western half without public cultural and arts centers. ”

The value of these centers lay in their ability to build community by offering classes, art exhibitions, and performances. Another issue with these centers is that their target populations can no longer afford to live in San Francisco. As young, wealthy "techies" move into the area, long time residents are pushed out through evictions and rising rent costs.

This isn't only the case with people that find their artistic freedom at public arts and cultural centers, but a problem for artists as a whole. In the past few decades, rising real estate values in cities, especially San Francisco, have forced artists to downsize, take on multiple jobs, or leave the city altogether. In the 1980's San Francisco saw a significant decrease in the number of artists living in the city. In response, the city instated the 1988 Live-Work Ordinance which loosened restrictions on loft-style housing, allowing live-work lofts in areas zoned for industrial use and exempting developers from regulations––including compliance with the Americans with Disabilities act. This allowed for developers to keep costs down, but instead of creating cheaper housing, developers sold to affluent non-artist buyers to maximize profits. One source estimates that only 5-10 percent of the 3,000 units created under the 1988 Live-Work Ordinance were truly used by artists for live-work purposes. The program was put on pause in 1999 and later the moratorium was extended indefinitely, however as of 2013, neither the city nor the SF Arts Commision has proposed plans for future artist housing.

To provide affordable housing for artists, the city needs to loosen zoning restrictions exclusively to nonprofit organizations that give preference to people who genuinely plan on using the space for artistic purposes. Some examples of successful organizations providing low income housing and studio space for artists include Project Artaud and ArtSpace. However, even under this system, some leaders within the artist community fear that artist enclaves would only cause real estate prices to rise further. In an article for the San Francisco Public Press, Victor Valle writes "when artists move in, nearby property values become red-hot, and original artists are forced to leave as the neighborhood rapidly gentrifies." Artist and community organizer, Nancy Hom notes that "creative placemaking sounds nice in theory, but in practice, it is sometimes creative dis-placemaking."

Perhaps the biggest challenge for bringing (or keeping) an arts community in the city is the ever-rising cost of living in San Francisco, especially rent. The growing power of tech companies in the city itself has made it difficult for those who aren't in a high income bracket to afford to stay. In fact, a study reported by SFGate found that in 2017, the income required to live comfortably— on a 50% necessities, 30% discretionary, and 20% savings budget— was more than $110,000, while the group Attom Data Solutions found that people in the SF metro area spend about 77% percent of their salary on average to pay rent, far over the national average of 39%. Clearly, most young artists are not making six figures.

Fortunately, the city has measures in place. SF's rent control policy keeps rates from skyrocketing over short periods and cap the increase of rent in most instances at only 7% per year, which must be documented and approved before it can be instated. It also establishes a list of just causes for eviction. Since young artists are often renters and not homeowners, maintenance of a livable renting market in SF is vital to keep the arts community strong. It's worth noting that the biggest loophole in SF rent control policy is the lack of coverage on units with a certificate of occupancy dated after June 13, 1979, so many new constructions are exempt— the same new constructions which often advertise as artistic space.

June 2018

Take an Art Stroll on West Portal Sidewalks

April 13-15, 2018

The heart of West Portal is a shopping district three blocks long filled with all the ingredients of a delightful small town: restaurants, movie theater, bookstore, pubs and Mom and Pop shops. The weekend of April 13-15, this charming district will add to its appeal by hosting the West Portal Sidewalk Art Stroll—a boutique, handcrafted, family friendly art event.

Now in its 30th year, the three-day open-air art marketplace runs Friday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day on West Portal Avenue between 15th and Ulloa featuring the works of more than 30 artists displaying photography, paintings, ceramics, jewelry and more. The event presents a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the sights and sounds of West Portal, to meet artists one-on-one and discover a handcrafted treasure that calls to you. The show is free to the public and is presented by the West Portal Avenue Association.

Glass Home Accessories and Jewelry

Gila Sagy's passion for art, color and culture blend as seamlessly as the fused glass pieces she creates. "The many colors and textures of glass make fusing so fascinating for me," she says. "Nothing can replace the excitement of creating beautiful color combinations with glass." Her creations, which range from photo holders, jewelry, wine bottle platters and more are all original, unique and one of a kind. Everything is made of glass pieces in multiple colors and textures. The process of firing in the kiln fuses all of the individual pieces together, culminating in Gila's elegant art pieces.

Carved Wooden Spoons

From an early age David Rully discovered a love of woodworking, making such things as benches, and a desk among other things. Today he makes wooden spoons intended to be used even though there are those customers who say they are going to hang them on the wall. These utensils are heirloom quality hardwood. "I pride myself on innovative and ergonomic design of my spoons that are personal to the user," David says. "One of the more satisfying aspects of my work is designing specialty spoons for those who need something to fit their hand, either for personal satisfaction or due to a physical challenge. I also specialize in heirloom reproductions, such as Grandma's spoon that you're afraid to use since it's so old."


The paintings of Karen LeGault are set apart by a deceptive simplicity and a refined traditional Asian technique and aesthetic. Deeply rooted in Western realism and Taoist philosophy, her lush, distilled compositions express beauty, fragrance, rhythm and form through a magical palette where spirit is reflected through matter. She applies her extensive artistic skill, mastery and sensitivity to compose and balance color, shape, form and depth that engages all the senses, offering gorgeous paintings, commissions or prints that infuse with vibrant life and color the spaces in which you live, work and breathe.

"Take-Alongs"—bags and totes

Located in San Francisco, Lisa Candee hand-designs, creates and sews one-of- a-kind original "take-alongs." These bags and totes are handmade from new-life and repurposed, locally sourced fabrics. They are functional, durable and comfortable and have plenty of pockets so everything has a place to keep you organized for errands throughout your busy day. Lisa's original take-along collection includes one-of-a-kind market bags, carryalls, totes and more.


For Locke Heemstra's photographic images, the focus on landscapes is very much the part of expressing appreciation and awe of the natural world. He creates photographic canvases that have a unique artistic appearance as the image continues to fold around the sides to the back, eliminating the need for frames or glass. Locke's early images focused on the natural wonders of the United States, from the rich fall foliage of New England to the vivid blues and greens of the California coast. In time, he began to concentrate on natural and manmade settings lush with color and eventually decided to combine his love of European culture with his new approach to color. Today Locke travels to Europe at least three times a year-- always searching for that special image that will give the viewer a sense of place.

For more information about the Art Stroll contact the West Portal Avenue Assn. at (415) 566-3500 or Pacific Fine Arts Festivals at (209) 267-4394 or visit Also Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

April 2018

Ella Ruth Francis is Our Native San Francisco Thespian Girl

San Francisco native Ella Ruth Francis is part of an all-original play called Seeds presented by the Utopia Theatre Project, making its debut here in San Francisco on March 9. She is currently playing Juliet in Romeo and Juliet at the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival.

Her love of theater has been a part of her life for as far back as she can remember. Ella Ruth Francis is a graduate of the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of The Arts on Portola Ave, near Twin Peaks. Referred to as SOTA, after graduation Ella Ruth Francis attended classes and was accepted to the prestigious ACT - American Conservatory Theater.

She continued to excel in the dramatic and performing arts. After ACT, she completed an intense acting training program at the Pacific Conservatory Theatre (PCPA) on the central coast in Santa Maria, CA.

Not afraid to break new ground, Ella Ruth Francis is accustomed to new and complex material. Her time at ACT and at PCPA taught her well. Just to provide a glimpse of the caliber of company, material, and training Ella Ruth Francis has acquired over the years, for its 54th season PCPA is currently performing Arthur Miller's The Crucible.

In Seeds, Ella Ruth Francis is very much at home portraying Carolyn, one of the four women in the play. They are conflicted on whether or not to keep their disturbing memories in the past in order to move on with their lives. They find that even the deepest buried secrets have the capacity to sprout and come to light. This ensemble-driven play weaves in and out of time to unearth the painful truth at the center of each character.

Seeds is a formidable production. Set during World War II, its saga follows a group of allied soldiers who become bound by a terrible secret. Nine actors embody four women and five men all who are struggling to make sense of their wartime experiences.

The play's author and director Anne Yumi Kobori established the Utopia Theatre Project in 2014 because she believes in artist-produced live theatre as a unique and powerful form of human connection.

This past year Kobori adapted Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull for Utopia Theatre Project’s inaugural experiential production.

Speaking about her original work, director Anne Yumi Kobori noted. "My artistic impulse with Seeds was to write into the paths ordinary people take to rebuild their lives after cataclysmic acts of violence - both global and personal. I hope to create a dialogue about the possibilities of forgiveness for the perpetrators of violence as well as the victims."

Even though the story is set at a time more than 70 years ago, its theme and complexity is applicable to today. The U.S. involvement in the Middle East, the on-going "war on terrorism" in Afghanistan, are no doubt applicable.

Seeds takes a compassionate and sometimes humorous view of not only the soldiers who are impacted by war, but also the women who are their family, lovers, and casualties. In the exploration of the impact of war on human relationships, Seeds joins in the movement to listen to, and believe in, women’s stories.

Ella Ruth Francis is very honored and proud to be a part of this unique and all-original production. She hopes her friends and neighbors of the Sunset District will attend and join her and the cast on the theatrical and cathartic journey which is Seeds.

Opens March 9-24th, Sat PianoFight, cabaret stage and night club on Fridays and Saturdays. All performances 7 pm. Tix/Info EventBright at:

Or call PianoFight night club and cabaret at (415) 816-3691.

March 2018

Outside Lands

A Festival of the Unexpected

Josh Sanseri - Con Brio

Outside Lands is a three day vacation from the ordinary without ever having to leave the city, and with the added advantage of getting to sleep in your own bed after marathon days' end. This festival represents different things to different people, but it is always an adventure. Sure, there are artists that you will definitely make a point of seeing, but beyond those, it's all unknown and uncontrollable circumstances that await you. You don't know who you're going to run into from your past; you don't know how close you'll get to the stage or who you'll meet along the way; you don't know if they'll run out of organic vegan tamales by the last act; you don't know a lot of things. It's the unpredictability of Outside Lands that's part of it's charm and also what makes it somewhat like a vacation, where you're thrown into an entirely new set of experiences. No matter what your ambitions may be, your fate is typically cast to the four winds, which is kind of fun.

When you think about it, anytime you go to see live music, it's always a getaway from the everyday. It's a chance to shift your consciousness and for musical communion if the stars align. San Franciscans are so fortunate because our city is a favorite tour stop for pretty much every artist, and is almost always on the itinerary. Even if you didn't get to go to Outside Lands, you can be sure that those artists that you wanted to see will be returning. Here's a selection of four bands to be sure and catch the next time they're in town. All four, of course, offer their own musical destinations.

1. Con Brio. Luckily for us, Con Brio is from San Francisco, and although they tour pretty much every continent now, they most certainly will appear here at least twice a year. This is the band to see when you're looking for a super positive, super energy charged, and inspiring night. Con Brio operates as a seven piece and no one in this band is asleep on the job; they are all so in the truly transcendent, soulful ride that is their powerful music. Ziek McCarter, frontman for Con Brio, is a sight and sound to behold; his vocal gymnastics are stunning, and they are delivered with real emotion and heart. And his dance moves! You just have to see them. Every player in this band is a star but together they really shine. Easily one of the best bands at the festival.

2. Nathaniel Rateliff and The Nightsweats are also a seven piece, and also deliver lots of genuine emotion onstage. There's no posturing here; these guys are the real deal. This is the band to see when you want to feel as though you've taken a little cross country trip into America's heartland, and have happened upon an amazing night of music. The Denver based band brought us very convincingly to places like Memphis and New Orleans, but gave that music plenty of extra room to breathe, just as one is accustomed to doing when they hail from Colorado. Everyone onstage had a vocal mic set up before them; everyone in this organization can sing, and the horn section brought an even richer quality and an often dreamy element to the band's sound, which was already captivating - think Van Morrison meets The Band meets Memphis soul meets country blues. Superb musicians that they are, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats laid down perfectly balanced and engaging grooves within a performance that looked to be as natural as breathing to them. The truth of the matter is that, all skill and practice hours aside, the only way to effectively deliver the kind of music that we heard at Outside Lands is to have lived the kind of life that led up to it. Nathaniel Rateliff's honest lyrics certainly don't always tell rosy tales, but he keeps his sense of humor and embraces life for all of its sweet and sour notes. It was obvious that the Outside Lands gig meant a lot to them, and at sets' end, Nathaniel Rateliff used the opportunity and the energy of the moment to exclaim, "We're all in this together! Take care of each other and to take care of the working class people of the world or we got nothing!"

3. Air. The musical equivalent of a floatation tank. This is music for dreaming and for decompression, perfect for anyone who basically wants to take a break from everything and float off into the clouds of imagination. Jean-Benoit Dunckel of Air referred to his and Nicolas Godin's music as soft wave, which sounds even more chill than chill wave. You get the idea. Air doesn't tour here too often, but until they do, turn off the phone, the computer, and the TV, open the windows, get under the covers, and play some Air. Problem solved.

4. Lionel Richie. As someone who has never been a big fan of Lionel Richie, this one came as a surprise, but he was just phenomenal and closed out the three days in grand and exuberant style. What a showman and what a band! Lionel Richie positively ruled that stage and had the entire polo field dancing all the way through his set, which absolutely flew by! This is the kind of musical vacation you take when you just want to have a great time and not think about anything but dancing. As Lionel Richie said, "There are two ways you can dance. You can dance on the floor, or you can dance on the...." In our case the ceiling was a sky full of stars and, um, fog, in beautiful Golden Gate Park, It was pretty romantic too, judging by all the couples hugged up and falling in love. Blame it on Lionel.

Obviously, with Outside Lands' four main stages, as well as a multitude of other stages and attractions, a lot of artists have not been included here. "What about Radiohead and Ryan Adams?" you are probably asking. They are brilliant artists; that is undeniable, but let's face it, they're not the cheeriest of the lot, and sometimes an upbeat musical adventure is just the ticket.

Lastly, this snapshot of Outside Lands 2016 would not be complete without a shout out to Major Lazer, who quite possibly had the biggest crowd of any act all weekend. When Major Lazer took to the polo field, easily 50,000 revelers from every corner of the festival came stampeding toward the stage. No matter how you feel about crowds, the sight of that pilgrimage (safely from a hill, thank you very much), was a sight to behold and just one of the many out there memories of the three day extravaganza that is Outside Lands.

Wendy Oakes is a local reporter.

September 2016

City College’s Front Page Gallery

A Window to the World

Santiago Mejia, SF Chronicle
Santiago Mejia, SF Chronicle

An exhibition of exclusive photographs by City College‘s Guardsman photographers published in local newspapers during their internships launches a premier show running March 10 to April 11 at the Front Page Gallery located in The Guardsman newsroom, Bungalow 615 on City College’s Ocean Campus, 50 Phelan Avenue, San Francisco.

Ekevara Kitpowsong, The San Francisco Examiner
Ekevara Kitpowsong, The San Francisco Examiner

The public is invited to a reception Thursday, March 10 from 5 to 9:30 p.m. Light food and refreshments will be available. The exhibition, from 11-5 p.m. on weekdays, is comprised of 22 photojournalistic prints.

Elisa Parrino
Elsa Parrino, El Tecolote

“The exhibit reflects the photojournalistic success of our students following their initial training in the classroom and on the campus newspaper The Guardsman and the campus magazine Etc.,” Journalism Department Chair Juan Gonzales said. “The exhibit is a clear statement about their skill and passion for journalism as recognized by industry professionals.


“The gallery, developed by the journalism department, is located behind George Rush Stadium where ample parking is available.

Ekevara Kitpowsong, SF Examiner

“This exhibition will be surprising and revealing to the viewers. Every featured image has a strong news value and artistic composition as well as tells a meaningful story. I enjoyed working collaboratively with talented Guardsman photographers. It was an astonishing experience to hear many great stories behind the images they captured.”

James Fanucchi, Sonoma INdex-Tribune

“This show will feature significant work in the beginning of the City College of San Francisco journalism students’ career, it is very rare to find this in any other photography exhibits,” gallery curator and the former photo editor of The Guardsman newspaper, Ekevara Kitpowsong said.

For more information about the exhibit and reception contact Department Chair Juan Gonzales at or (415) 239-3446.

March 2016

A Bit of Ol’ England

Victorian London returns to the Cow Palace: Great Dickens Christmas FairDickens

Are you ready for some tea and crumpets? Or perhaps something a bit livelier? Get ready, as a beloved Bay Area holiday tradition, the Great Dickens Christmas Fair & Victorian Holiday Party returns to San Francisco’s Cow Palace ( Geneva Ave.) on and continues for five weekends through Sunday, December 20, 2015, including the Friday after Thanksgiving from 10 AM to 7 PM.

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair magically transforms over three acres of exhibition halls into the marvelous rollicking world of Charles Dickens’ London. Lively calls of street vendors ring out above the crowd and mingle with the voices of holiday carolers; tempting aromas of roasted chestnuts and hearty foods fill the air; enticing shops overflow with one-of-a-kind Christmas gifts.

Originally conceived and created by Ron & Phyllis Patterson, the fair is now produced byKevin and Leslie Patterson and Red Barn Productions, with this next generation continuing the family tradition of theatrical excellence, historical authenticity, and environmental theater. And now the third generation of Pattersons,Kevin and Leslie’s sonsAndrew and Michael, work together running Mr. Punch’s Pasta, Maclaren’s Cookies, and inventive games and rides. A true family affair!

Fair goers can wander the lanes of Victorian London, as the glow of twilight settles upon the city, the scent of pine boughs & freshly baked scones floats in the air, and the music and sounds of holiday merrymaking accompany your stroll. From highborn royalty to denizens of the street, the Fair teems with over 700 colorful & iconic characters from the imagination of Charles Dickens and the pages of history!

“Our cast members are essentially the moving parts of our magical time machine,” says Kevin Patterson, who, with his wife Leslie Patterson, co-produces the Fair. “It will sweep you, heart and soul, into a tradition of lively historical celebration that brings laughter, dance and delight to all who enter its gates. “

Seven stages will offer all types of entertainment, ranging from the family-friendly to the decidedly daring. Proper ladies and gentlemen may choose to enjoy an opera gala, children’s shows, melodramas, music and dance. The more raffish might prefer to carouse with can-can dancers and salty sailors, or join the bawdy chorus at the infamous Broadside Music Hall Revue.

Eating and drinking was a staple of the Victorian times, and so it is again today! Bring your appetite when you visit The Great Dickens Christmas Fair— there is ever so much to eat and drink. Feast on delicious foods from the British Empire and beyond, from scrumptious savories to tempting handcrafted sweets. Then visit one of the five traditional pubs to enjoy draft ales, wine, and champagne, or wrap your hands around a hot buttered rum, Irish coffee, or hot toddy. You can also, enjoy a traditional English high tea with scones and finger sandwiches—anytime is teatime at the Dickens Fair!

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair offers special activities, games, and holiday entertainment opportunities for everyone. Younger guests will enjoy meeting Old Father Christmas; riding on a hand-powered Adventure Carousel; cheering and jeering at Punch & Judy puppet shows; marveling atthe Mother Goose Parade, and taking tea with Alice of Wonderland. As well, there’s the chance to meet characters fromA Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist,andNicholas Nickleby— and even to encounter the great Charles Dickens himself! In addition, youngsters can create their very own Fairy Houses, try their hands at being “printer’s devils” with an actual 1860s printing press, learn to tie intricate knots, sing sea chanteys, have their hair French-braided, or create their own holiday gifts such as rolled beeswax candles and hand-painted ceramic ornaments.

Find the perfect holiday gift and revel in a wonderland of one-of-a-kind artisan treasures. Over 100 beautiful shops will offer fine crafts, romantic clothing and accessories, ceramics, handsome drinkware, dazzling jewelry, toys, antiquarian books, and more.

The adult patrons will love to gather in the Bohemian absinthe bar for lively conversation, or at Mad Sal’s Dockside Ale House to join in the singing of rowdy favorites and watch high-kicking dancers take to the stage for the wicked “Can-Can Bijou.” The immensely popular and scandalous“Saucy French Postcard Tableaux Revue” returns to the Victoria & Albert Bijou Music Hall—with an all-new risqué exhibition of beauty unveiled! This immensely popular Twilight-Hour entertainment is sure to beguile and delight the adults in the audience. Admission to this attraction is free, but you must request tickets upon arrival at the Fair; they go quickly. Guests must be 18 or older.

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair has been directed and produced each year by the Patterson family, for more than three decades creators and producers of the world’s original Renaissance Faires at Black Point Forest in Marin County and in Southern California. Ticketing: General Admission tickets (age & and up) are available at the Box Office

A Tip from Scrooge:Print-at-home discount tickets are available Season Passes are available online for $٩٠ (a $٢٩٥ value!); and Twilight Specialtickets (good after 3:00 pm daily, available only at the Box Office) are $15­­ for adults and $8 for children ages 5-12.Group rates available online for 20-29; for parties of 30 or more, info: Golden Gate Group Tickets,, 415-668-0525. Parking:$12 per vehicle (charged by the Cow Palace). The Fair offers afree shuttle from the Glen Park BART station.

Info: (800) 510-1558 x 114 or

November 2015

Great Dickens Christmas Fair

Early Bird ticket sales began in October for the annual Great Dickens Christmas Fair held at the Cow Palace. And while economic forecasts lately have been “Scrooge-like,” the Christmas fair’s executive director and CEO Kevin Patterson wants to assure everyone that “this years’ fair will be even more beautiful,” and very much the “living Victorian Christmas card” his mother Phyllis Patterson envisioned more than 40 years ago.

The Westside Observer got the opportunity to speak to Patterson and ask if he and his wife were prepared to carry on now that his mother and father have passed on, (Ron Patterson died three years ago and Phyllis this past year). graphic

“Actually, my wife and I have been at the helm in charge for over 15 years, as my mom enjoys watching us and the crew put everything together.” He explained that as a live theatrical event, often referred to as he called it, “total sensory immersion theater,” it is different each year.

Creating a Victorian slice of life based upon the expansive literature of Charles Dickens’ 19th Century London is a challenge. Yet as Patterson explained, “It is a labor of love and was always something my mom (and dad) looked forward to.” He did say that, with his mom’s passing and now the second generation is in command, “there will be a deeper sense of gratitude and appreciation than ever before.”

Phyllis and Ron were always grateful, especially when as Patterson said, “there were a few years when we thought there might not be a Dickens Fair.”feast

Phyllis had explained to this reporter when writing about the Dickens Fair for the very first time, almost a decade ago, that the entire idea originated simply as a holiday party at home. She had wanted to have a theme party to invite some friends over and thought, why not make the theme a like a Victorian Christmas card? Then the idea of A Christmas Carol and Dickens soon followed; because the very next year after that party, friends and neighbors she had invited insisted she do the same again.

The idea caught on as it kept growing. Each year it gained a little more and a little more, eventually requiring that it find a more suitable and permanent home. It out-grew Fort Mason, and when the Fair settled in to the Cow Palace it was just the right fit.

The Pattersons, who also originated The Renaissance Fair, had offered it to a Chicago-based production company to take it over. “They bought the rights and such for our Renaissance Fair,” Kevin Patterson said, “but they just could not accept or understand the Dickens Fair.”

“They could not envision it, because he said, they saw only ‘the cost’ point of view. We saw the Dickens Fair as a labor of love. And, for us having the Dickens Fair was a way to keep all of our actors, performers, musicians and vendors busy and working during the winter season.” With close to 800 people in the cast and production, the Dickens Fair and its associates are truly a large family. “My parents believed that sense of family, extended family, was also very important. I think this is one reason why the Christmas Fair endures and has lasted so long. People join us, work for a while and then follow other careers. But, they also come back to us.” Case in point is actor Sandy Grinn. He returns to the fair this year as the larger-than-life character of Fagan from Dickens’ Oliver Twist.

Patterson noted that, as a major on-going production, the fair never really stops. It rests, but rehearsals, auditions, set designs, props are always in process throughout the year. This year The Music Hall show will be presenting a new “classic British comedic song and dance review,” as he described it.

Patterson reiterated that the annual Christmas Fair is in fine form and is ready to share some of its “theatrically magical” holiday cheer. “The traditional things that people come to expect from the Fair will be as always.”

Tickets are now on sale. The Great Dickens Christmas Fair will open on Nov. 22 and continue for five weekends, including the Friday after Thanksgiving, through Sunday, December 21. For more information visit

Or call, (800) 510-1558.

November 2014

SF Silent Film Festival’s Annual Winter Event

Saturday, February 16

The SF Silent Film Festival once again presents its one day Winter Festival, presenting the best in silent film, with live musical accompaniment, on Saturday, February 16 at the Castro Theater. Get a taste of what’s in store for the big Festival in July. See for more info and tickets.

Snow White (US, 1916) 10am.

Walt Disney was a 16-year-old newsboy when he attended a free event at the Kansas City Convention Center in 1917 to see Marguerite Clark, Dorothy Cumming, and Creighton Hale on screen in a live-action rendition of the fairy tale, Snow White. It was one of the first features he’d ever seen and he was hooked. “I thought it was the perfect story… It had the sympathetic dwarfs…the heavy…the prince and the girl. The romance…the perfect story.” This rare film is being shown as part of the Walt Disney Family Museum celebration of Snow White. Directed by J. Searle Dawley with Marguerite Clark in the lead role, the film was thought lost until materials were discovered in the Netherlands, and a print was preserved at George Eastman House. Musical accompaniment by Donald Sosin on grand piano. Copresented by the National Film Preservation Foundation.

Act Slow, Think Fast: Short Films of Buster Keaton (12 noon)

“Think slow, act fast” is a quote attributed to Buster Keaton, and perfectly exemplifies his movies. Keaton is a true comic genius and a great filmmaker. Repeated viewing of any Keaton will reveal the thoughtful filmmaking, the elegant structure and beautifully expressive camera, and deepen your amazement at the gravity-defying stunts. Our program features three early Keaton shorts, made shortly after Keaton left Fatty Arbuckle to work on his own—three of the funniest, most innovative comedies ever put on film! One Week (1920, with Buster Keaton, Sybil Seely, Joe Roberts) The Scarecrow (1920, 18 m., with Keaton, Joe Roberts, Sybil Seely, Luke the Dog), The Play House (1921, 23 m., with Keaton, Virginia Fox). Musical accompaniment by Donald Sosin on grand piano.

The Thief of Bagdad (US, 1924)  2:30pm

Douglas Fairbanks’s personal favorite, The Thief of Bagdad shows him at the top of his charming, acrobatic game. Directed by Raoul Walsh and adapted from One Thousand and One Nights, the story revolves around a thief (Fairbanks) who falls in love with the daughter (Julanne Johnston) of the Caliph of Bagdad. So overcome with love that he refuses to be deceptive about his true identity, Fairbanks’s thief still has the chance to win the fair maiden by bringing back the world’s rarest treasures. Thus begins a rousing fantasy replete with flying carpets, winged horses, and underwater sea monsters. Lavish sets and cinematography support early special effects to make Thief a wildly entertaining spectacle. Inducted into the National Film Registry in 1996 and voted one of AFI’s top 10 classics in 2008, Thief has recently received a crisp 2K restoration. Live music by Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra

My Best Girl (US, 1927) 7pm

Mary Pickford’s last silent film is a comedy so warm and ebullient, it is a fitting adieu to America’s Sweetheart. Although she would make four more films—all talkies—My Best Girl (1927) is the pinnacle, the exemplary illustration of what made Pickford the most loved movie star in the world. Directed by Sam Taylor (famous for his work with Harold Lloyd), Girl is the story of Five & Dime store stock girl, Maggie Johnson (Pickford), who falls for the owner’s son, Joe Merrill (Buddy Rogers), who’s masquerading as a new employee that Mary has to train. Of course, Joe’s parents have other ideas about the kind of girl Joe should marry. Pickford and Rogers (in his first role after the hugely successful Wings, 1927) are wonderful together.  Pickford would divorce Douglas Fairbanks and marry Rogers—a marriage that lasted her lifetime. Copresented by the Pacific Film Archive. Musical accompaniment by Donald Sosin on grand piano.

Faust (Germany, 1926) 9pm

F.W. Murnau’s Faust is the greatest movie version of the old legend, immortalized by Goethe, of the learned man who sells his soul to the devil. Magnificent in its surreal depictions of heaven and hell and a nightmarish otherworld, Faust is masterpiece of German Expressionism, as distinctive as Murnau’s other horror masterpiece, Nosferatu. When Mephisto (Emil Jannings) shows up to tempt Faust (Gösta Ekmann), a man of books and learning, with the ability to cure the plague and a 24-hour return to his youthful body, it seems God may have lost his wager with the devil over Faust’s immortal soul. Or has he? Murnau’s use of chiaroscuro effect beautifully contrasts light and dark, life and death; and evil is chillingly limned by Jannings’s brilliantly nuanced, subtly comic performance. Musical accompaniment by Christian Elliott on the mighty Wurlitzer.

February 2013

Dickens Fair Honors Author’s 200th Birthday

This year is very special to the cast and crew of the annual Great Dickens Christmas Fair because 2012 marks the 200th Birthday of author Charles Dickens. Special celebrations like the Afternoon High Tea hosted by “Mr. Chas. Dickens” for members of the press on the opening weekend the day after Thanksgiving highlighted this year’s fair in particular.

Born in 1812, Charles Dickens was the second of eight children. His father was an office clerk. With so many to feed, and his father’s over-spending, Dickens was forced to leave school at age 12 and work in a factory. His parents and younger siblings were sent to debtor’s pris™on, while the lad Dickens helped to pay off his father’s debts.

This and other hardships were the basis for many of Dickens’ novels. Most scholars and historians agree Dickens was among the most prolific writers of the Victorian Era. And it is because of the many works he produced the annual Dickens Christmas Fair at the Cow Palace is filled with over 700 characters. “We believe we have more Dickens characters brought to life here at the Cow Palace, more so than any other place in the world,” said the fair’s producer and CEO, Kevin Patterson.

Following in his father’s footsteps, Patterson strives to uphold the fair as a local holiday tradition. For over 30 years the Patterson family has been bringing this “living Victorian Christmas card” to audiences even when “there were times we did not think the fair would be able to go on,” said Patterson’s mother Phyllis. She talked with this reporter some time ago about the origins of the Great Dickens Fair, and mentioned that it all basically started as a theme for a holiday party for family and friends. That little family party at home grew into an annual event.

Yet what helped the event to carry on was the dedication and commitment of hundreds of people volunteering their time to ensure the fair would continue. Even with new additions of other Victorian novel characters, like Alice in Wonderland or Captain Nemo from 20 Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, the Pattersons consider everyone who contributes, participates, and attends the fair to be part of one large extended family.

Local actor Robert Young has been with the Dickens Fair since 1990. Over the past two decades, Young has devoted much of his acting and study to a deeper understanding of Dickens and his times. He entertained the press on opening weekend at the Afternoon High Tea. This reporter asked him if, after so many years, the role gets tired. “Putting together a production like this can be stressful. What we have here is ‘immersion theater,’ there is nothing else like it. There is no curtain and no ‘fourth wall’ between us and the audience,” said Young. But, he quickly noted how much the effort is all worth it when he sees visitors “spark up and take in the experience.”

Both Young and Patterson mentioned one of the reasons why the Christmas Fair endures is because much of what we Americans appreciate about Christmas is due in large part to the work of Dickens. The greeting card, the Christmas tree, and the visit from Santa Claus (or Father Christmas) were all promoted in large part by Dickens’ work on A Christmas Carol. When Dickens went on speaking tours, audiences loved to watch him read and perform his works. And, when his works were brought to stage, screen and television, this greatly enhanced America’s appreciation of Christmas.

Young and Patterson likened Dickens to the greatness of Shakespeare, especially regarding the portrayal of various characters for their “universal aspects that all people can recognize.”

Professor Rosemary Ashton of University College in London contacted this reporter from “across-the-pond” to clarify that what Dickens created with his energy of writing was the “archetype figure,” such as Scrooge, who comes to represent a certain aspect of human nature, “not in a tired or clichéd way, that’s a stereotype,” she said, “but in such a vital way that such figures come to be exactly what we mean when we think of a miser,” said Professor Ashton. When it is said that man is “a Scrooge, everyone knows what we mean.” Recently retired from her position as Quain Professor of English Language and Literature at UCL, Ashton noted that the characters Dickens created speak to a “deep, fundamental human concern or fear, and so become the mythic embodiment of such a deep concern. This is why works like A Christmas Carol live on,” she said. She credits the recent renditions of Dickens works produced by the BBC as helping to foster an even more expanded appreciation of his works for contemporary audiences.

The Great Dickens Fair continues each weekend until Dec. 23 at the Cow Palace, 2600 Geneva Ave. Doors open at 10 AM and close at 7 PM. Info: or call 800-510-1558, Ext. 114

December 2012

Cinema by the Bay

Festival sponsored by SF Film Societycinema by the bay

The San Francisco Film Society presents the fourth annual Cinema by the Bay festival, from November 9 to 11 at New People Cinema, 1746 Post Street in San Francisco.

The Cinema by the Bay festival celebrates Bay Area filmmaking, the spirit of local directors, and the depth of America’s film and media frontier. The three-day festival features new film work produced in or about the San Francisco Bay Area and provides a look into Bay Area creativity at its finest.

The fourth annual Cinema by the Bay opens with Jason Wolos’ debut feature film Trattoria, includes screenings of new films by leading filmmakers, and is highlighted with the Film Society’s annual celebration of Bay Area innovators, Essential SF.

Cinema by the Bay is part of the Film Society’s year-round programs of Bay Area film culture. SFFS inaugurated a dedicated Cinema by the Bay designation six years ago, within the San Francisco International Film Festival. With its fall festival, the SFFS continues the work of the Film Arts Foundation, which from 1984 to 2005 programmed the Bay Area’s best local independent filmmaking.

Friday, November 9 OPENING NIGHT

7:00 pm: Trattoria

Jason Wolos, Director Expected.

Set in the world of the SF competitive restaurant culture, Trattoria serves up family drama and foodie delights. Chef Sal Sartini and his second wife Cecilia have just opened a new restaurant and are trying to generate the reviews and buzz that are critical to success. Sal’s estranged son Vince comes to visit and help out in the restaurant, leading to family tensions. (USA 2012. 82 min. Written by Jason Wolos, Dawn Rich. Photographed by Frazer Bradshaw. With Tony Denison, John Patrick Amedori, Lisa Rotondi, Kandis Erickson. Fine Dining Productions.)

9:00 pm: Opening Night Party: Celebrate CBTB at Yoshi’s San Francisco, 1330 Fillmore (at Eddy) with Japanese-inspired hors d’oeuvres and sponsored wine.

Saturday, November 10

2:30 pm: Casablanca Mon Amour

John Slattery, Director Expected.

This fiction/nonfiction hybrid features two humorous Moroccan college students, Hassan and Abdel, as they journey from Casablanca over the Atlas mountains to the Sahara desert. Hassan, in the midst of creating a media project, uses the trip to investigate how Morocco has been depicted in popular culture and used in Hollywood staples such as Casablanca (of course) and The Jewel of the Nile, among others. The film shows us how the country has been figured in film, while also showing us the country itself and how Moroccans view their own nation through the lens of Hollywood. (USA/Morocco 2012. 79 min. In French, Arabic and English with English subtitles. Written by John Slattery. Photographed by Fara Akrami. With Abdel Alidrissi, Hassan Ouazzani, Amin Chadati, Fraida Bouazzaoui. Zween Works.)

5:00 pm: Essential SF

Essential SF is an ongoing compendium of the Bay Area film community’s most vital figures and institutions. H.P. Mendoza, Judy Stone, Wholphin, Terry Zwigoff and others yet to be announced will be feted at this short ceremony. Past Essential SF honorees include Les Blank, Canyon Cinema, Joshua Grannell (aka Peaches Christ), Rick Prelinger and Marlon Riggs, among others. Free admission.

7:00 pm: Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet

Jesse Vile, Subject Expected.

In 1980, guitarist Jason Becker was on the road to international stardom when he joined David Lee Roth’s band at the age of 20. That same year, he was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease and was given 3–5 years to live. Now, more than 20 years since his diagnosis, Jason’s story continues. Through home movies, photographs, and concert footage, this documentary presents an affectionate portrait of a gifted teenager who realized his wildest dreams at an early age and is still creating with the care and love of his devoted family and fans. (USA 2012. 90 min. Photographed by Carl Burke. Edited by Gideon Gold.)

9:30 pm: Amity, World Premiere

Alejandro Adams, Director Expected.

A divorced Air Force sergeant rents a limousine to celebrate his daughter’s high school graduation. However, his daughter refuses to celebrate with him, and he decides to spend the evening with the limo driver. Amity unflinchingly presents a version of masculinity that is insecure, cruel, and ultimately powerless. (USA 2012. 80 min. Written and photographed by Alejandro Adams. With Greg Cala.)

Sunday, November 11

2:00 pm: Moving Image at the End of the World: Shorts from Headlands Center for the Arts.

Presented by Brian Karl, Program Director, Headlands Center for the Arts.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of Headlands Center for the Arts, who’s mission is to provide the environment for artists to produce innovative work and to connect them to audiences of all sorts, and their residencies are among the most sought-after around the world. Ranging from the humorous to the beautiful, this program of short films consists of works that have been made at Headlands.

4:15 pm: A Conversation With Lucy Gray

San Francisco–based artist Lucy Gray will appear for a rare talk about her work. While Gray is recognized for her compelling photographs—including the “Big Tilda” exhibition at the 2006 San Francisco International Film Festival—her art is not limited to photography. This event will feature a screening of her short film Genevieve Goes Boating, followed by readings from her latest venture. Writer and theater critic Steven Winn will moderate the discussion.

6:00 pm: The Revolutionary Optimists, Work-in-progress screening

Maren Grainger-Monsen, Nicole Newnham, Directors Expected.

Lawyer turned social advocate Amlan Ganguly doesn’t just rescue children, he empowers them through education and activism to battle poverty and transform their lives. The Revolutionary Optimists follows Amlan and the children he works with—Shika, Salim, Kajal and Priyanka—as they staunchly fight against the forces that oppress them. (USA 2012. 83 min. Photographed by Jon Shenk, Ranu Ghosh, Ranjan Palit. Edited by Andrew Gersh, Mary Lampson. Helianthus Media.)

8:30 pm: CXL , World Premiere

Sean Gillane, Director Expected.

Nolan, an aspiring writer, feels stuck: he is frustrated with his career, his relationships, the world and ultimately with himself. When he meets the stunning and unpredictable Cassie, but just as he begins to change his perspective, circumstances conspire to throw his spirit into turmoil in this darkly comedic debut feature. (USA 2012. 90 min. Written by Theo Miller, Katherine Bruens. Photographed by Sean Gillane. With Cole Smith, Lisa Greyson. Briana Eason, Amir Motlagh.)

Tickets are $11 for SFFS members; $13 general; $12 seniors, students and persons with disabilities. Opening Night film and party $20 for SFFS members, $25 general. For more info, go to

November 2012