Herakut: The Giant Storybook Project comes to San Francisco

In a weekend wedged between San Francisco’s early October latesummer and late October earlywinter, right before the city erupted into self-congratulations at its Giants going to the world series, the drab wall in Flax Art & Design’s backlot was transformed into something very very awesome. Graffiti-mural duo Herakut are in town, and they’ve brought their giants with them.

The two of them collaborate in an awesome way; Hera paints loose and lyrically, broad washes, quick grids and swooping lines. Akut does something tight, alchemical and mysterious, which amounts to photorealistic tone and texture from spraypaint. Together their work has to be seen to be believed. This mural, which they completed in two days (actually, they may add text after the rain relents) is part of their Giant Storybook Project. This project has them putting up walls in a variety of cities with characters in common, an emerging narrative. Eventually a book will be made, stitched from the giant murals adorning a score of cities. I love that in its scope and execution the project may well may become a world-famous graffitti campaign, but it’s neither hardcore posturing nor Banksy agitprop: it’s an artistically unique children’s book about imagination.

This mural depicts the Silly Monkeys from mural 1 in Lexington Kentucky, being pursued across rooftops by some snake/arms that might belong to Jay’s creative spirit from mural 5 in Toronto, or the mantle of the standing figure in Rochester’s mural 6 – or maybe that figure is Jay, corrupted with power? At any rate, it’s exciting to see this scene of action across our city’s walls. I don’t think it’s just city pride or that I watched it go up that makes me feel this is the best one yet.

A few scenes from the work in progress:

The dissolving, filmic city that provides the base for the mural is as great as the figures themselves: I watched Hera make these cranes, towers and scaffolding in no time flat. As longtime readers know, I am a sucker for an inky cityscape.

Even if they don’t put type on it later, there’s still this “good job!” hiding behind the buildings in the far corner by the garage door which leads off the cityscape.


Word is they will be painting another later in the week in the Tenderloin? I certainly hope so!

Park and Pond

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For the past few months, Owen and I have been working on the identity of a fabulous new shop in San Francisco, Park and Pond. Park and Pond, which opened last month in North Beach, was founded by sisters Jessica and Abbey Herman and features products that are designed and produced within 100 miles of San Francisco. They’ve curated an impressive selection of merchandise from a ton of Bay Area designers, including Pie Bird Press, Lisa Swerling, Whitney Smith Pottery, Yellow Owl Workshop, and of course, us.

We’re thrilled with what a great job Jessica and Abbey have done carrying the colors and identity through the shop and we’re so happy we were a part of helping this great store come to life.
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Park and Pond
Park and Pond
Park and Pond
Park and Pond

Corrine Vionnet: Photo Opportunities

Corrine Vionnet’s series Photo Opportunities is a collection of pieces on iconic landmarks, each one composed of hundreds of self-similar tourist photographs layered together into a new composition.

While the three essays she reproduces on her site focus on the sightseers/tourists and their consistent, shared, unimaginative “shared memory” view of the monuments, I am more interested in the layers of meaning that can be extracted from the finished pieces.

The effect of the dissolution and blur on these icons sometimes works to invoke  associations: Big Ben for instance is lost in the fog, while the Twin Towers are lost in grief.

The way that the photos are layered also creates some interesting readings, especially in the ones with very clear focal points where the pictures are registered. The cooperative tourist shots combined do what a single one cannot: make into a beacon the portrait of Mao in the Forbidden City, make a grinding gyre around the black rock at Mecca, or complete the Colliseum. Interestingly, there most photographers choose an angle that shows its damage — the aesthetic normative — and the small group that shoot from another angle fill in ghostily what the eye can only imagine.

And my favorite layer of meaning: some seem to consciously refer to or homage art history. Clearly the whole project is a variant of cubism, assembling different views, but the dynamism referenced in the Golden Gate Bridge composition is apparent: compare to Balla’s Dynamism of Dog on a Leash. Likewise, you can’t assemble hundreds of pictures of Mt. Fuji without referring to Hokusai. Her composition, like his series of prints, seems to show Fujiyama as being a constant, unchanging icon while the days, nights, seasons and crowds change around it. The blurry Eiffel Tower in a series of chromatic greys looks all the world like a piece of lost Impressionism – Caillebotte‘s pallete and Monet’s brush? And the texture at the bottom/foreground of the Matterhorn piece feels remarkably like the scraped brushwork of a late modern painter like Kiefer.

One of the primary instigators of early modern painting was photography’s effortless encroachment into the realist space painting had long occupied. With these recombined works, Vionnet collages cliché photography into something that recapitulates the project of modern painting: expressing different aspects of time, light and viewpoint, abstracting and dissolving its subjects into impressions, thumbing its nose at photography which can only represent realistically a single moment.

15 more plus essays at Vionnet’s site.

Levi’s Workshop: Print on Valencia

San Francisco has a super special new thing going on this summer. Levi’s Workshop/Print (a two-month pop-up community letterpress/silkscreen printshop) has opened in the Mission. I went to the opening night and stopped in again on Saturday, talked a bit with a few of the staff, and can’t stop thinking about how great it’s going to be.

The Workshops are places for creation, inspiration, and collaboration. We’re excited to bring the first of these experiences to life right in our own backyard. Located in San Francisco’s iconic Mission District (home to one of the first Levi’s® factories), we’ve opened up a community print shop. During July and August we’ll be hard at work teaching classes on classic letterpress machinery, screenprinting designs, setting type, and getting our hands dirty.

The facade: I love that they whitewashed and reclaimed the existing Biltmore Laundry sign with its classic Americana shape (see a great slideshow here) and mostly am a fan of the exhaustive list of types of workers (including blogger) on the facade, paid off with the Holzer Truisms-esque neon sign “Everyone’s Work is Equally Important.” But I am disappointed that they put it up in a handwriting font and not either traditionally handlettered or, if it has to be type, at least use the much more well-done Pettibon/McFetteridge-esque handlettering type used all over the site’s css.

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My analysis: So normally I’d have a fair amount of skepticism for such a display of big-company-throwing-money-at-coolness, but there’s many ways that this is distinct from your average marketing exercise from the likes of Nike.

  1. Levi’s is a San Francisco company; their original plant was operating at 14th and Valencia until 2002. Plus of course, jeans were worker’s attire before becoming the greatest American sartorial export, making both the location/community and the “work” theme are not just genuine but resonant.
  2. Their choices of collaborators are not just buzz names (like Sagmeister, Fairey, Aaron Rose) but community-local (The Women’s Building, SoEx, Mother Jones, Mission Grafica) and public-pedagogical innovators (Alice Waters, Craig Newmark, 826) if not some combination of the three. It’s a group that is both nigh-unimpeachable and impressively progressive.
  3. The overall feel is much more public, conversational, accessible, educational and positive than it is branded-marketing-pushy. Which I hope is a sign of changing attitudes towards marketing in general.
  4. In an era of “new media” being everyone’s buzzword, it’s heartening to see this embrace of old media, of “getting one’s hands dirty.” Though no doubt twitter, facebook, blogs (not to mention jumbotrons) will amplify the message, the media in question isn’t apps and Mafia Wars but real ink, screens and presses — newspapers, broadsheets, posters, books, public propaganda. Both letterpress and arts education are under constant threat of disappearance and this public celebration is welcome. It’s easy to see how this will translate into other workshops: photography and music have both gone digital as surely as printing, and a space for darkrooms with, say Jonathan Kozol or for 8-track masters with Jack White is a beautiful idea.

I have no reservations saying that this workshop is a fantastic thing, and I’m hoping that it becomes the textbook example of corporate social responsibility, (cultural edition). I am excited about the next two months and only sad that it won’t become a permanent fixture of the Valencia corridor. After August, they’ll close back down, some version of the Slanted Door will move back in, and a new Levi’s workshop centered around photography will open in New York for two months.

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Some of the programs I’m particularly interested in after the jump.

Continue reading Levi’s Workshop: Print on Valencia

Sandbox Bakery

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While we are not foodbloggers here at the Experts Agree, we do like to share magical things when we find them. Such is the case with the recently opened Sandbox Bakery on Cortland. On a relatively unassuming block, past the bustle of Cortland proper and on the edge of where the neighborhood slides downhill to Bayshore, sits what may be my new favorite bakery in town. Sorry Tartine, sorry Cottage Bakery.

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The owner is Japanese, and the bakery is done in the Japanese way, which is to say, sort of perfectly. The scones and muffins are adorably diminutive: the sort of size you’d criticize them for were it not that they are super yummy and also not-overpriced. There’s a selection of the usual favorites: fruit and nut scones; almond, chocolate and plain croissants; morning rolls; challah; etc. Then some plainly Japanese items: melon pan, curry [beef] pan. In the name of science, I am eating my way through the options, and I have yet to get to these last.

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They also make, on occasion and in small batches, sandwiches. There’s a pink lady apple and gruyere on fresh multigrain roll I’ve had several times (to obtain a scientifically viable sample set!) and then earlier this week they had “burgers” of sushi rice buns and marinated tofu inside: delicious, filling and maybe $4.50?

Their coffee: Ritual Roasters or De la Paz, brewed individually. Their staff, hip and sweet and serene. From the fixtures to the details, everything is just so.

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All images are from the Sandbox bakery site except the last shot which was done using Hipstamatic.

Shop Handmade this Holiday Season

Design des Troy will be selling at two craft sales this week. The first is the Handmade Ho Down on Thursday from 6-midnight at 1015 Folsom. The event is being sponsored by Etsy and the Museum of Craft and Folk Art (among others). Raffle and gift wrapping proceeds will benefit DrawBridge, an artistic program for homeless youth in the Bay Area. It sounds like it will be a pretty great event, plus there is a photobooth and drinks. Also, if you have any spare art supplies, you can donate them to DrawBridge at the door for a free gift!

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The second, the RISD Alumni Holiday Arts & Crafts sale, is on Sunday from 9:30-5 at Fort Mason Building A (your immediate left as you enter the parking lot). If you’ve never shopped Fort Mason during the holidays, it’s pretty cool: there’s a bunch of other art and jewelry sales too, nice views, and Greens to Go for lunch.

If you can’t make either, or live far from San Francisco, all of our cards on Etsy have free domestic shipping through Monday! We have new stickers, tags and maybe our awesomest card ever that we’ll be listing later tonight (and will of course be available at the sale). Edit: The cards (our “Jolly Old Saint Roger/Yo Ho Ho Ho” design, which we just finished printing this afternoon) and gift stickers are up, yaay!

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Indie Mart is this Sunday!

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If you are in San Francisco this Sunday, stop by Thee Parkside for Indie Mart and say “hi” to Owen and me. It should be a really good time.

Here are all the details:
The Indie-Mart Street Fair
Sunday, November 8th, 12-6pm
Thee Parkside- 17th st & all down Wisconsin
ALL AGES- 21 to booze it up
$2 suggested donation

The Indie Mart is back for our last throw down outside before we move indoors for the winter. We’re bringing you the best in local designers, makers, the most vintage we’ve ever had, local rad stores, zines, rock tees, bakers, and about everything else you can think of. We’ve hand selected 100 of the best bay area vendors just for this event.  Is if that’s not enough…peep our DIY booth from Workshop, featuring demos every hour from 1pm on. Sewing stations where you we’ll customize your rock tees for $5- (choose one of 3 ways- the Tawny Kitean, the Benetar or the Lita Ford..yes, really). We’ve got ping pong going from 1-5pm on the street. Photobooth. Killer BBQ. Drink specials like whoah. and of course, Cheap beers.

JUST GOOD SHOPPING. GOOD FOOD. GOOD MUSIC. GOOD DRINKING. GOOD PEOPLE. GOOD ALL DAY FUN. THE INDIE MART.

It’s beginning to look a lot like…

It seems hard to believe, but the holidays are quickly approaching. Owen and I have been printing and designing like madmen and should have the shop filled with new holiday designs soon.

Joy card

While we do our best to photograph the cards accurately, they actually look much better in person than they do online. If you are in the Bay Area, we will be selling our cards at:

  • Indie Mart at Thee Parkside on Sunday, November 8th
  • RISD Alumni Sale at Ft. Mason on Sunday, December 6th

Hope to see some of you there!

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City of 100,000 toothpicks

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I’m sure some of you have already seen this, as it’s over 35 years in the making. For roughly 3000 hours over those 35 years, artist Scott Weaver has been working on “Rolling Through the Bay,” an incredible 9-foot kinetic sculpture of San Francisco and Muir woods, created in painstaking detail out of nothing but toothpicks and Elmer’s glue. The sculpture, which is currently on display at the California State Fair, is not only an amazing representation of the city, but it’s also essentially a Rube Goldberg contraption: ping pong/antenna balls twist and turn through a series of mazes running throughout the landscape.

More pictures, facts and photo credits about this unbelievable piece after the jump.

Continue reading City of 100,000 toothpicks

Sunday inspiration

Since I was feeling a little blue about coming into work on a Sunday, Paul cheered me up by taking me for a walk on San Francisco’s Coast Trail that runs along the Presidio to the Cliff House. These little snapshots are nothing exciting, but the walk reminded me to not take for granted the interesting and beautiful things that are all around us.

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