Monday, April 24, 2017

A visit to Kensington Palace in London

Watching the “Victoria” series on PBS starring Jenna Coleman as Queen Victoria and Tom Hughes as Prince Albert, brought back memories of my visit to Kensington Palace in London. 

Story and photographs by Stephanie Wright Hession

Entrance to Kensington Palace.

Exterior of The Orangery. 

Enjoying a spot of tea at The Orangery. 

In addition to taking the self-guided tour, which enables you to visit the rooms of the palace where the young princess grew up, admission includes entrance to the exhibition to “Diana” Her Fashion Story.” Diana, the Princess of Wales, lived in royal apartment 8 at Kensington Palace from July 29, 1981 until her death on August 31, 1997. 

Photo by Patrick Demarchelier. Courtesy of Kensington Palace.

After touring the palace, head over to The Orangery, a former conservatory, for a pot of black or green tea such as the Royal London blend or an organic lemon and ginger version. Be sure to pair it with an apple and blackberry crumble or other yummy dessert. Or you can opt for breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea.

I bought my ticket to Kensington Palace and made my reservation for The Orangery in advance and online. I highly recommend doing both. Also note the opening and closing times on the day you plan to visit since the hours of operation vary.

Royal symbols on the gates of Kensington Palace. 

The palace viewed from Kensington Park.
Rooftop urns.

The palace grounds.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Out and About: Enjoying spring at the Filoli estate in Woodside

The emerald-hued pastures bordering its extensive driveway offer only a hint of the splendor of Filoli. Situated on the outskirts of Woodside, this 654-acre, early 20th century country estate features a grand Georgian home and magnificent, English Renaissance-style gardens. The former residence of William Bowers Bourn II and Agnes Moody Bourn, today it’s a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Operated by the nonprofit Filoli Center, it's an enchanting place to discover.

Stephanie Wright Hession

Visitor and Education Center

Pay admission fees, pick up a visitor map, a self-guided tour brochure and watch a video about the history, architecture and families at Filoli, including its final owners William P. Roth and Lurline Matson Roth. The Quail’s Nest cafe offers soups, paninis, salads and sweet treats, along with views of the wooded Friends' Native Plant Garden.

Bourn-Roth home

The Bourns hired Willis Polk to design this 36,000-square-foot modified Georgian manor, which incorporates other architectural styles. After the Bourns' deaths in 1936, the Roths purchased Filoli and, in 1975, Lurline Matson Roth donated her estate to preserve it for all to enjoy. Don't miss the gorgeous ballroom with Ernest Peixotto's murals.

Sunken Garden

Bruce Porter helped the Bourns plan Filoli's exquisite outdoor spaces and Isabella Worn supervised its plantings. The 16-acre formal English Renaissance garden contains beautiful terraces, parterres, pools and lawns. In the Sunken Garden, pink tulips accent twin oblong pools and a larger pool, which reflects the clouds and sky.

Walled Garden

Fanciful, ebony gates; walls fashioned from red brick; flower beds of pale pink, fuchsia, blue and white hyacinths; large camellia trees with a profusion of pink and garnet blooms; the Wedding Place, with its 15th century Venetian fountain; and a sun dial with the inscription "Time Began in a Garden," create a magical setting here.

Garden House

Rows of French doors and comfortable chairs with ottomans make this airy conservatory an ideal spot to take a break. Designed by Arthur Brown Jr., architect of iconic structures such as San Francisco City Hall, it's located in the Walled Garden. Stop to view the mythical faces created by Gaston Rognier that adorn its exterior cornices.

Filoli, 86 Canada Road, Woodside. Check in at the Visitor Center before visiting Filoli’s house and gardens. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday; last admission is 4:30 p.m. 

Admission: $20 Adults; $17 Seniors (65 and older); $10 Students 17 years and younger with valid student ID; Free children four years and younger; $10 Members of the Trust for Historic Preservation, Free for Filoli members, $10 K-12 educators with employee ID from San Francisco, Contra Costa, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Alameda Counties. 650-364-8300,

Friday, March 31, 2017

“Phantom Space,” a new series of works by Chris Dorosz at the Scott Richards Contemporary Art gallery, S.F., April 6-29

“My Space in Upper Canada,” digital print on archival Epson paper by Chris Dorosz

“Stasis 111,” (2016), acrylic paint on plastic rods by Chris Dorosz

“Sleepwalker.web,” by Chris Dorosz
Images courtesy of Scott Richards Contemporary Art.

Through April 29. Cocktail reception for the artist, 5-7 p.m., Thursday, April 6. “Phantom Space,” Scott Richards Contemporary Art gallery, 251 Post St., Suite 425, S.F. 10:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Tuesday-Friday and 11 a.m.- 5 p.m., Saturday. Sunday and Monday by appointment. (415) 788-5588,

-Stephanie Wright Hession

World premiere of David Gordon and Pick Up Performance Co (s) “Live Archiveography” at the ODC Theater, S.F., April 20-22

The ODC Theater presents choreographer and director David Gordon and Pick Up Performance Co(s) in “Live Archiveography.” Gordon, a founding member of the Judson Dance Theater, spent the last several years organizing and interpreting his archives. Named “Archiveography," the collection will be housed in the Jerome Robbins Dance Division of the New York Public Library.

Scott Cunningham and Karen Graham. Photo by Paula Court
The performance aspect, “Live Archiveography,” includes scripted story, projected collage and live performances by Valda Setterfield, Karen Graham and Scott Cunningham. With it, Gordon reexamines the artifacts of his career to reveal the relationship between an artist’s personal life and career.

David Gordon. Photo by Andrew Eccles
“Live Archiveography.” April 20-22. $30-$35. ODC Theater, 3153 Seventeenth St., S.F. (415) 863-9834,

-Stephanie Wright Hession

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

“Dialogues in Drawing" group exhibition features contemporary women artists at the Jenkins Johnson Gallery, S.F. through May 13

In honor of Women’s History Month, this mixed-media, group exhibition features works by contemporary women artists Damali Abrams, Ruby Onyinyechi Amanze, Amy Cutler, Donna Dennis, Torkwase Dyson, Anna Sigmond Gudmundsdottir, Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle, Rosemary Mayer, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Ebony G. Patterson, Adrian Piper, Tracey Rose, Alison Saar, Simone Shubuck, Shinique Smith, Sam Vernon and Saya Woolfalk. 

With diverse backgrounds and from varying generations, the women all share a connection through drawing at the core of their creative process and utilize it as a way to explore aesthetic, cultural, political and social issues.

"Beautiful Dreamer," (2015), acrylic, ink, fabric and collage painting on paper. Shinique Smith.

"Starfish," (2016), ink, graphite, fluorescent acrylic and photo transfers. Ruby Onyinyechi Amanze

"Dock and Ship," (2016), gouache and watercolor on paper. Donna Dennis.

"Fossa," (2016), graphite on paper. Amy Cutler.

Jenkins Johnson Gallery, 464 Sutter St., S.F. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Tuesday-Friday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday. (415) 677-0770,

Images courtesy of the Jenkins Johnson Gallery.

-Stephanie Wright Hession

Monday, March 20, 2017

Local artist Jane Kim creates “Flora from Fauna” murals in downtown Redwood City

Visual artist and science illustrator Jane Kim is currently in the midst of working on “Flora from Fauna,” six interactive murals where bald eagles, squirrels, deer, a great blue heron, a fox and even a domestic dog dwell. 

A detail from “Flora from Fauna,” a series of six murals being created by artist Jane Kim.
Utilizing acrylic paint and latex exterior house paint as her media, Kim began the project on March 15 and expects to complete it by the end of April, weather permitting. Her murals will be located on the exteriors of La Tartine, Arthur Murray Dance Studio, Polam Federal Credit Union, Marshall Street parking garage, 870 Jefferson and on a bench near city hall.

A celebration of the natural world, the purpose of the murals are to instill in the community a desire to love and protect the earth through art. It's Part of the Redwood City Improvement Association’s efforts to bring beauty to its downtown.

-Stephanie Wright Hession

“Urinetown, the Musical,” opens April 8 at the Berkeley Playhouse

A clever, irreverent and humorous commentary on corporate greed as well as an ode to Broadway musicals, “Urinetown, the Musical,” takes place in an urban town in the near future. There, water is scarce and the Urine Good Company and its president Caldwell B. Cladwell regulate all of the restrooms through a corrupt, corporate system.

Pennywise (Jessica Coker) (center) confronts (L-R): Little Sally (Brittney Monroe), Mr. McQueen (Neal Pascua), Bobby Strong (Nikita Burshteyn), Old Man Strong (Phillip Percy Williams) and Josephine (Melinda Meeng) in Berkeley Playhouse’s production of “Urinetown, The Musical.”

The situation creates an unexpected hero, Bobby Strong, a young attendant at Public Amenity #9, a facility utilized by the poorest in the city. When his father can’t afford the daily bathroom fee and suffers terribly because of it, Bobby rises up and sets the scene for a revolt, a love story and toe-tapping musical numbers.

Bobby Strong (Nikita Burshteyn) and Hope Cladwell (Andrea J. Love) in Berkeley Playhouse’s production of “Urinetown, The Musical.”

(L-R): Old Man Strong (Phillip Percy Williams), Josephine (Melinda Meeng), Bobby Strong (Nikita Burshteyn), Little Sally (Brittney Monroe) and Mr. McQueen (Neal Pascua) in Berkeley Playhouse’s production of “Urinetown, The Musical.”

“Urinetown, the Musical. April 6-April 30. $22-$40. Julia Morgan Theater, 2640 College Ave., Berkeley. (510) 845-8542,

Photos by Ben Krantz Studio

-Stephanie Wright Hession

Paula Vogel’s “The Baltimore Waltz” at the Magic Theatre, S.F. through April 16

With “The Baltimore Waltz,” playwright Paula Vogel takes the audience on an imaginary, satirical journey with schoolteacher Anna and her brother Carl as they escape to Europe. Spurred by Anna’s diagnosis of the fictitious and fatal acquired toilet disease, (ATD), the pair set out in search of a cure and on a sexually adventurous romp through Paris, Amsterdam, Munich and Vienna. 

In reality, the two never take the trip and the setting is actually a Baltimore hospital room where Carl is dying. The play is a poignant tribute to Vogel’s brother Carl, who invited her on an excursion to Europe, which she was unable to take with him. She didn’t know at the time that her brother was HIV-positive. A year after his death in 1988 from AIDS-related complications, Vogel wrote the play while at the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire.

Playwright Paula Vogel. Photo courtesy of Magic Theatre.

“The Baltimore Waltz,” directed by Jonathan Moscone. March 22-April 16. $50-$85. Magic Theatre, Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture, 2 Marina Blvd., Building D, S.F. (415) 441-8822,

-Stephanie Wright Hession

Friday, March 10, 2017

Jacob Hashimoto’s “My Own Lost Romance” opening March 11 at the Anglim Gilbert Gallery, S.F.

For his sculpturescreated with a melange of petite, paper discs rendered with graphics and bright hues Jacob Hashimoto employs ancient, Japanese construction techniques, Western sculpture and painting traditions and the digital era’s modular language.

An opening reception from 4-7 p.m., Saturday March 11 celebrates 
“My Own Lost Romance,” his solo exhibition at the Anglim Gilbert gallery.

"My Own Lost Romance, Invocations and Afterglows," (2017), paper, wire, wood and mixed media. Jacob Hashimoto.

"Into This Strangely Fretted Light," (2017), paper, wire, wood and mixed media. Jacob Hashimoto.

Images courtesy of the Anglim Gilbert Gallery.

“My Own Lost Romance,” March 11-April 22. 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday. Anglim Gilbert Gallery at Minnesota Street Project, 1275 Minnesota St., San Francisco. (415) 528-7258,

-Stephanie Wright Hession

Monday, March 6, 2017

Robert Minervini’s “Improvised Gardens” opening March 18 at the Rena Bransten Gallery, S.F.

For this solo exhibition, Robert Minervini continues his study into the complex relationship people have with both natural and constructed environments. 

Drawn from walks the artist took throughout San Francisco, the emphasis for much of this body of work is on small, improvised garden spaces. Through these new pieces, he explores how space is controlled in the midst of densely populated, urban areas as a way to bring in some of the natural world.

“Improvised Garden II (Water Street)” (2017), acrylic on canvas. Robert Minervini. Image courtesy of the artist.

“Improvised Gardens,” March 18-April 22. Opening reception, 5-7 p.m., Friday, March 31. Hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday and by appointment. Open until 8 p.m., the first Saturday of each month. 

Rena Bransten Gallery, Minnesota Street Project, 1275 Minnesota St., S.F. (415) 982-3292,