El Refugio

A place on the web for escapism.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Coit Tower Hidden Niche - SF

Back in the day, I used to work on the east side of Telegraph Hill in SF. For fun, I'd climb the steps at Greenwich , up to Coit Tower, down the other side to Columbus and ... lunch at Molinari's Deli or fresh focaccia at Liguria Bakery. It was always a worthwhile walk ~ scenic, calorie crunching, muscle toning, visually beautiful, and lots of fresh air. 

Today, the rain was welcome and I'd wandered up to Coit Tower, again admiring the WPA-era frescoes. Afterwards, I meandered down the stone-lined path, where a neat discovery was made. I am sorry not to have a photo (yet!), but the poor lighting together with inclement weather obviated photography. 

Tucked into a little niche between the rocks of a low wall was a small diorama, a scene with a tiny human, small buildings, a few sprouting seeds. all this fitted over with a custom-made plexi-glass cover shaped to conform to the irregularly hewn rocks, and held in place with tiny tabs of hook/loop.

This little niche was well below the line of vision, located at about knee height, and again, I'm reminded to keep looking Down, and Up.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Marysville Murals - Sullivan's Saddlery Mural

Escape, Day 1 - 11/3/2010

I hadn't planned on stopping in Marysville, but it was such a gorgeous day, and I couldn't remember anything about the town. I spent all of 10 minutes in town and found this mural at Sullivan's Saddlery, located in Marysville's Historic district, on 4th Street at D Street.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ad Art Oceanside

The demise of nearly all personal photo equipment has meant a shift, so today we feature guest photographer, JohnnyG, who submitted the following ad art from the Red Rooster in Oceanside, located on Oceanside Boulevard, adjacent to the Crouch Street Sprinter station.

JohnnyG writes:
"While I'm not sure what a Rooster Burger tastes like, I do know there's a lot of funky goings-on at that...tavern?"
                           Thanks Johnny!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Creative Reuse - Inner Tubes Contest!

Maybe you've already heard about this one, maybe you've been busy fixing punctures along the a reminder, put those inner tubes to use in new and creative ways. Then enter the Alchemy Goods Inner Tube Reuse Contest.

Boasting everything from Bike-spoke Bats to Stomprockets, with a Giant Slingshot along the way, you'll want to check this site for inspiration on your next creative reuse project!
Got a flat? Don't toss that tube! Reuse it, and share your project in the Alchemy Goods Inner Tube Reuse Contest!

To enter the contest, just make a new Instructable that shows how you've reused a bicycle inner tube. You can use it whole or slice it up for parts, and make something practical or artistic; so long as you reuse an inner tube, the rest is up to you!

Need inspiration? Alchemy Goods has found lots of great uses for inner tubes and other reused materials. They upcycle useless stuff to make some great bags, wallets, belts, and more. Share your inner tube reuse project, and you could win a Pike bag or an Urban bag, or other cool stuff from Alchemy Goods!

So go make something awesome with an inner tube. We can't wait to see what it is!  Multiple entries are accepted, but each entrant can only win one prize. International entries are accepted.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Kinetic Sculpture - Budapest, Hungary

On my Flixx page, I recommend some good movies, one of which is entitled, "Walking on Water". Today, you can get an idea of what it might be like cycling on water--this video was shot on the Blue Danube in Budapest, Hungary.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

SF Ad Art - Sandwich Themed

The local Stop & Shop Market, Mission at 26th in SF, sports a bit of subliminal advertising by adding sandwiches just about anywhere--from Dagwoods crossing the Golden Gate Bridge to Stop (for a Hoagie) signs. Then there was that denizen of bad tobacco's advertising with the Camel you can buy cigarettes there too.

The Corner Store Project: A Collaboration between Stop & Shop, San Francisco Art Institute's Painting and New Genres Dept, and the Center for Public Practice, with Tony Labat and Carlos Villa ..."

Sunday, September 26, 2010

SF Murals - Boswell Place: Immortal Battle Dragon vs. Octopus

Map to Dragon Murall / Donuts & Pastries!

Boswell (Avery) at Geary Blvd., SF. It's one-way here, so you have to look back to see the monumental clash between Dragon and Octopus.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Arcata Murals - Crocigator?

The crocigator from Spring Street at 13th in Arcata, CA. 
Now that's a front yard!

As Seen On Haight Street...

I've always thought it's important to look up. 
Here's what you see when you look down:

 ...Haight St. in SF near Amoeba

Murals - Pachyderms

Detail from Ferndale Mural      

An elephant does not get
tired carrying his trunk.

                                 --Burundi Proverb

Detail - Arcata

As seen on the Great Highway in SF:

Thursday, September 23, 2010

SF Mosaic - Soto Bart Elevator

Give Respect to Gain Respect
The star points show "Joy, Love, Care, Trust, Respect Yourself and Respect Others"

Break the Chains of Prejudgement

We are the hearts of our community    

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

SF Murals - San Bruno Launderland / Art In Progress

Another work-in-progress I stumbled across on the wall of the local Launderland Coin-Op, located at 2246 San Bruno Avenue in SF Apparently, it was sponsored by the Portola Neighborhood Steering Committee.

Background: The PNSC applied for a capital improvement grant to paint a mural on behalf of the property owner of Launderland, 2444 San Bruno Avenue. This wall is constantly tagged with graffiti. Even though the property owner does paint over it very often, we thought it would be great to have something there to beautify the neighborhood and deter graffiti.  The property owner was award the grant and we have hired Fiona Glas, a muralist, to paint a mural on the 25 ft by 10 ft blank wall on Launderland.
                                       --Portola Neighborhood Steering Committee (PNSC)

Next time I visit Portola Neighborhood, I'll try to post the completed mural

Another example of the hand as mural element:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Excision - Idioms, Idiots and Music for Operating Rooms

Of all the things Mothers say to their sick children, this one, from my Mother,  made a lasting impression on me. If something hurt, or I didn't  feel well, she'd say,

It's just the meanness poking out of you

The message seems to be that there's lots of meanness inside everyone, but you have too much, you're overflowing and it pokes out. Theories of Excesses may apply. Empathy, however, is not to be expected. 

As a way of interpreting things, the mind realizes its problems through queries: Am I retarded? Inoperable Brain Tumor? If only I'd been able to realize that my mother wasn't mercilessly mocking me, she was telling me the plain, simple TRUTH:  It was just the meanness poking out of me.

Preparing for surgery, I jokingly asked the surgical resident if he could slip a bit of Liposuction and a Lap Band in on the side. That was the first surgery. Now after surgery, I waken dumbfounded that they've forgotten the Lobotomy yet again. aaagggh!

Now, put your tongue in your cheek and bite down hard. Here's a quick mix in the genre, "Music for Operating Rooms":

Take Me to the Hospital - Stars & Mats Mix
There's A Doctor - Pete Townshend
Blood Makes Noise - Suzanne Vega
What the Tumor Said... - Buried Heads
Hospital - Lemonheads
Dear Doctor - Rolling Stones
Blood & Roses - Smithereens
Pills for Sara - Winterpills
Give Blood - Pete Townshend
I Wanna Be Sedated - Ramones
Easy Plateau - Ryan Adams

Seems grim? Naw, a little irreverent, a little like, "I's-a tells ya likes I's a-sees it"

Monday, September 13, 2010

Out of the Ordinary...

A few sites showcasing out-of-the-ordinary art projects.

Atlas Obscura

A Compendium of the World's Wonders, Curiosities and Esoterica. Press "Take Me to a Random Place" or look up a location of your choosing.

Web Urbanist

Reverse Graffiti

reverse graffiti artists work on otherwise grimy, filthy surfaces, creating art by cleaning rather than defacing walls. From Sao Paolo to San Francisco's Broadway Tunnel, clean up artists have a new take on temporary art.

35 Greatest Works of Reverse Graffiti

Reverse Graffiti, Dust Thou Art

Reverse graffiti: art etched into grime

Ossario - Alexandre Orion, Sao Paolo, Brazil

Scott Wade's Dirty Car Art Gallery - Scott has just the right kind of dust for his take on drawing in the windshield dust. After seeing Scott's incredible artistry you'll think twice before scrawling "wash me" on the windows. Watch Scott Wade on's Modern marvels or here, on YouTube

Recycled Art
Art From Trash

Non Trashy and Recycled Trash Art 

40 Terrific Works of Art Made From Common Trash

Cut Paper

Bovey Lee

Green (Grass/Moss) Graffiti

A new trend on graffiti that uses Mosses or grasses.

20 Masterpieces of Green Graffiti

13 Incredible Recycled Objects

Sand Painting / Sand Animation

10 Amazing Sand Artists and their Work
Caroline Leaf, The Owl Who Married a Goose
Joe Castillo, Sand Animation
David Alcala
"The Sand Magician" (De ZandtovenaarCircle of Life, by Ferenc Cakó
Rhapsody in Blue, by Ferenc Cakó
Hungarian Dances, by Ferenc Cakó
Vivaldi Four Seasons Sand Animation film Ferenc Cakó
             Winter Spring Summer Autumn
Kseniya Simonova - Sand Animation (Ukraine's Got Talent) 

Kinetic Sculpture Races

Ventura has a Kinetic Sculpture Race, Benefiting the turning Point Foundation

Ferndale Embraces the all things kinetic, honoring the sport with its own museum, right in downtown. No entry about kinetic sculpture would be complete without a friendly nod to Hobart Brown (1934–2007).

The Kinetic Kingdom has a great historical article, Crazy Contraptions - A Light-Hearted Look at Ferndale's Kinetic Sculpture Race, by Stan Bennett 1975

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Arcata - Murals #1

Long before this building was the Humboldt State Museum of Natural History, it was a Wells Fargo Bank. The Museum was closed when i arrived, but I was even more dismayed to see a note indicating that it would be open only to school groups. I am accustomed to such neat things as science museums being available to all regardless of age or academic affiliation! (See also: Lawrence Hall of Science, the Children's Discovery Museum, The Lindsay Wildlife Museum, the Randall Museum, Zeum, etc.). As a Humboldt Alum, I wonder about this! Is this an artifact of grant requirements or funding resources? 

So, here are the south and north sides of the building:

Arcata Murals - Union Plank Walk

On the way out of town, heading south, take a quick look at this mural:
Union Plankwalk & Railroad Co. 1854.

"Union" is the name formerly given to the foggy town we know as Arcata
(name change circa 1860).

Monkey Puzzle (2008) - Opening Credits Animation

The best part of the 2008 movie, Monkey Puzzle, was the opening credits sequence of animation. Set in the beautiful wild of Blue Mountains of New South Wales, I'd hoped for a visual tour de force. Instead, most of the movie was as much a struggle for the viewer as it was for the 5 actors. Perhaps the biggest disappointment was that although Dylan reaches the tree, no one else sees the tree that was the impetus of the whole journey. The movie had potential for catharsis, but it fell flat.

Monkey Puzzle (2008) - Opening Credits

Monkey Puzzle

The title evokes images of the Monkey Puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana) and the Bunya Pine aka the False Monkey Puzzle Tree (Araucaria bidwillii). These trees are very different to the Wollemi Pine (Wollemia nobilis) but are closely related with all three belonging to the same family, Araucariaceae.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Death of a Camera...

Add to the long list of casualties:

My camera

I'm directly responsible for the loss or demise of a number of cameras, cell phones, watches, timepieces, Ipods :( and more. Today, I found a 2GB card in the laundry (along with $12 and change...) I'm not keeping count, but, it's a problem. Sigh. 

The old reliable Nikon is almost unusable, the new Casio jammed four months new, and now my little camera can't open its eyes. I have so many murals, mosaics and pieces of public art to visit, view, photograph and research, but that's going to be on hold for awhile. I knew that anyway, but the death of my camera just reinforces it: no jaunts in the City, no photos to catalog, instead, recuperation. Recovery.  

Honestly, it must be a sign: all of the cameras associated with me are broken. I can only see this as an indicator of focus and memory. No cheating with digital technology. Turning the lens inward, instead of seeking out the art of others?

Terribly dependent on timepieces and being early, not late, I am a death sentence for every watch I've ever owned. My collection of dead watches is a sad reminder that I'm so stuck in the present, owned by the past, the future never quite arriving.

I'll upload the photos I've taken over the last several months, but no forays for new material for a month or two. 

Outside looking in
Telegraph City

Think Good Thoughts...

September 17th


SF - Japantown


California Japantowns - SF

Footsteps lead to destiny

We dance honoring ancestors
who claim our home,
and freedom to pursue our dreams

Our voices carve a path for justice
Equal rights for all.

We prevail
Our future harvested from generations
From my life opens countless lives

The journey continues.


Detailed Japantown Map

Ruth Asawa - Japanese American Artist, Sculptor

Ruth Asawa at Wikipedia

Capturing Faces in the Moment

DeeDee's SF Blog mentions Ruth Asawa

Ruth Asawa: On Form and Growth
This film offers an intimate look at Asawa's life made by filmmaker Robert Snyder. Running time is 30 minutes, grades 7 and up. ISBN: 1-55974-530-4.

At bottom, the inscription is faint,
and appears to say:

A journey detained
interned by injustice
What was before us?

SF - Golden Gate Park: Bison

Domestic Bison of Golden Gate Park. It's been years since I've seen them in the front lot.  According to Wikipedia, the Park purchased a small herd of bison in 1891, when their numbers in the US were dwindling. The Park has successfully bred bison in captivity. The bison paddock in the park seems small in contrast to my concept of buffalo roaming the wide open plains. I've oft wondered of the bisons' quality of life there (really!)--fenced in, next to the foggy coast.... Yet I do enjoy seeing them, large majestic tasty creatures. The buffalo just speaks "early America" to me.