Thursday, June 27, 2013

“The Elders Project: A tribute to African-Americans ages 90 to 104 years old," through August 8

“The Elders Project: A tribute to African-Americans ages 90 to 104 years old," is an exceptional group exhibition in the Hall of Culture at the African American Art and Culture Complex in San Francisco. Read more about it in my visual arts story about the show:

"I. Williams" by Armand Wright. Courtesy of the artist.

 “A. Carter” by Armand Wright. Courtesy of the artist.



 “L. Fountain” by Armand Wright. Courtesy of the artist.

“E. Newman” by Armand Wright. Courtesy of the artist.

“A. Crosby” by Armand Wright. Courtesy of the artist.


"P. Cox" by Armand Wright. Courtesy of the artist.

 “L.C. and Jessica,” by Eugene E. White. Courtesy of the African American Art and Culture complex.

 "Coming of Age," by Edythe Boone. Courtesy of the artist.


Out and About: Cole and Carl streets, Cole Valley, San Francisco

By Stephanie Wright Hession

Cole and Carl streets, S.F.: On a sunny day in June, a golden retriever carries a leash in his mouth while prancing alongside his person up a residential slope of Cole Valley. Nearby, a passerby eyes neatly displayed textiles, while others devour mac and cheese at a local bar, burgers, kick back outside among trees and plants in a local cafe or watch a soda jerk create a strawberry rhubarb phosphate.

1. Kezar Bar and Restaurant

900 Cole St.: Sip on cocktails such as the lavender haze concocted with gin, lavender, cucumber and lemon; down a pint of one of the beers on tap and munch on pub grub including Luca’s yummy mac and cheese baked with three cheeses, grilled portabella mushroom, charbroiled chicken sandwiches and more. (415) 681-7678.

2. Urban Mercantile

85 Carl St.: At Urban Mercantile, find festive greeting cards celebrating birthdays, babies or to simply say hello; striped tablecloths, throw pillows printed with turquoise, marine blue, yellow, green, orange and pink floral and ikat designs, cinnamon hued cloth napkins, bird themed serving trays and crimson ceramic vases. (415) 643-6372,

3. Burgermeister

86 Carl St.: Got a hankering for a superb burger? Stop here and dare to finish the Meisterburger—stacked high with a Niman Ranch beef patty, apple wood smoked bacon, avocado, sautéed mushrooms and onions and cheese. Don’t forget the oodles of curly garlic fries, onion rings and milk shakes-oh my! Cash only. (415) 566-1274,

4. Reverie Cafe

848 Cole St.: The combination of Reverie Cafe’s outdoor back patio, accented with trees and plants, and its drip and specialty coffees, frittatas, home style potatoes, fresh fruit, salmon, crab cake, Florentine and traditional eggs benedict, French toast, etc., make for an ideal spot for breakfast and brunch. Cash only. (415) 242-0200.

5. The Ice Cream Bar

815 Cole St.: Pop into this delightfully retro, 1930s style soda fountain, hop on a stool and try a phosphate, lactart or other classic fountain soda, ice cream, floats with a contemporary twist, malts and milkshakes. They also make their ice cream on site daily utilizing organic, local dairy and produce. (415) 742-4932,

6. Cole Valley Pets

910 Cole St.: Select a natural toothbrush for your hamster, the Cat Dancer and other amusements for your kitty, Frisbees and more toys for your pooch and food, litter boxes and flea treatments at this amicable neighborhood pet store, which sells supplies for cats, dogs, birds and other small animals, reptiles and fish. (415) 564-8811.

Of note:

At “Off the Grid” join the lines in front of the mobile food trucks and carts. Then savor gourmet eats—from Indian curries to Korean barbecue to Peruvian sandwiches to Thai food and more. 5-9 p.m., Thursday. Waller and Stanyan and Waller streets (Upper Haight).

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

"Krispy Kritters in the Scarlett Night," extended at Cutting Ball through June 23

By Stephanie Wright Hession
Scarlett (Felicia Benefield) and Drumhead (Wiley Naman Strasser) of Krispy Kritters in the Scarlett Night. Photo by Laura Mason
Andrew Saito didn't intend to write "Krispy Kritters in the Scarlett Night," his fantastical murder mystery premiering at the Cutting Ball Theater. Its germination started during Octavio Solís' playwriting workshop at Intersection for the Arts in 2006. There, Solís utilized exercises to encourage creative fluidity and stream of consciousness writing.

"Octavio is a master teacher. He really introduced me to a new way of writing - not operating from a conscious thought or a calculated plan but really opening one's self up to one's inner realms of creativity and subconscious," says Saito, 34, who lives in San Francisco.

Solis instructed his students to imagine themselves on a street corner observing a person, reaching into that person's pocket for a photograph and conjuring up an image of the photograph's subject. For Saito, the subject morphed into Drumhead, a morgue attendant. A few months later, richer details emerged during Migdalia Cruz's workshop at the Playwrights Foundation.

"That's when a lot of these other characters started to come in," he says. "Before I really only had Drumhead, so that's when Scarlett and Snowflake and Gran Ma Ma came in. Some of my plays are about experiences I've had, or I've become fascinated with a historic event or an episode, so my plays are sometimes based on these. The writing of those plays is more conscious or deliberate. With 'Krispy Kritters,' I don't know where it's coming from, and it's exhilarating and terrifying at the same time."

Centered upon two adrift souls, Drumhead and a charismatic prostitute named Scarlett, the story takes place in what the playwright describes as "a forgotten city in a nearly forgotten state (perhaps Nevada)" and "a ghost town inhabited still."

The play became further defined after Rob Melrose, Cutting Ball's artistic director, invited Saito to participate in "RISK IS THIS ... The Cutting Ball New Experimental Plays Festival" in 2011.

"I just loved the play, but I thought maybe no one else would like it because I can have odd taste, but I knew that I wanted to have time with this writer. Then a number of our board members went to a reading, and they just went crazy for the play," says Melrose, who directs the upcoming production. "I was worried it was too outrageous, but people have been really excited by it. I'm just really thrilled by the response."

A $166,000 grant awarded to Cutting Ball from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation enabled Saito to become the company's resident playwright and work intensely with Melrose on "Krispy Kritters in the Scarlett Night."

"I hadn't showed it that much, and it was a big mess and I didn't really know what to do with it," Saito says. "The play is where it is because of Rob and Cutting Ball.""

(R-L) Drumhead (Wiley Naman Strasser) Scarlett (Felicia Benefield) and Snowflake (Mimu Tsjuimura).
Photo by Laura Mason

Krispy Kritters in the Scarlett Night: 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 5 p.m. Sunday. Through June 23. $10-$50. Cutting Ball Theater at Exit on Taylor, 277 Taylor St., S.F. (415)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Surrealist painter Cynthia Tom

Cynthia Tom is an amazing artist. Here's a sampling of some of her acrylic on canvas works. Learn more about her in my profile, which I wrote as an Ovation over story in the San Francisco Chronicle:

"Circus Series: Vivian and her synchronized swim team" by Cynthia Tom. 

"Circus Series: Break Time" by Cynthia Tom.

"Circus Series: Leaving Too Soon," by Cynthia Tom. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Observations from the field: San Francisco City Hall

Photographs by Stephanie Wright Hession. Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.

Admire the grandeur of San Francisco City Hall, a 1915 Beaux-Arts beauty designed by Arthur Brown, Jr., who worked as its principal architect and also designed the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House, Coit Tower and other elegant structures in the city.

San Francisco City Hall on a lovely summer evening.

Its magnificently detailed dome.

Learn more through the San Francisco City Hall Docent Tour Program: Sign up at the docent desk for a 45 minute, guided tour offered at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m., Monday through Friday. Reservations required for groups of eight or more people. (415) 554-6139,

Out and About: Sacramento Street, Presidio Heights, San Francisco

By Stephanie Wright Hession

Photographs by Stephanie Wright Hession Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.

In this affluent neighborhood, known for its posh shops displaying exquisite objects for the home, the arrival in recent years of a new wave of merchants with fresh ideas and modern sensibilities has added a contemporary edge. Today, you’ll find a thoughtfully curated and still exclusive mix of new, vintage and antique items, along with some surprisingly affordable finds.

1. Poetica Art and Antiques

3461 Sacramento St.: A pair of guardian figure heads from the Ming Dynasty gaze out a window of Traci Teraoka’s shop, where she gracefully intermingles such antiquities with vintage furniture and contemporary art including photographer Susan Middleton’s black and white portrait of a fox and jewelry by designer Francesca Lewis Kennedy. (415) 637-5837,

Poetica Art and Antiques

Poetica Art and Antiques

Francesca Lewis Kennedy necklaces at Poetica Art and Antiques.
Poetica Art and Antiques

Poetica Art and Antiques

2. Thomas Moser-San Francisco showroom

3395 Sacramento St.: Designed for comfort and aesthetics, Thomas Moser solid wood furniture, handcrafted in Maine primarily with sustainably harvested, American black cherry, includes the Edo trestle dining table and Ellipse lounge chair and ottoman. The showroom also exhibits the work of fine artists, currently those by painter William Broder. (415) 931-8131,

Thomas Moser-San Francisco showroom
Thomas Moser San Francisco showroom

Thomas Moser San Francisco showroom

"Florence at her Desk (2013) by William Broder.

Thomas Moser San Francisco showroom

3. Hudson Grace

3350 Sacramento St.: A charmingly set table featuring understated, white dinnerware made exclusively for Hudson Grace, hand dyed, linen napkins, large ceramic, glass and wood serving pieces and R. Nichols’ soy candles in playful scents such as “Mow,” are among the crisp, modern tabletop items here for entertaining with a sense of mirth. (415) 440-7400,

 Hudson Grace

 Hudson Grace

 Hudson Grace

 Hudson Grace

 Hudson Grace

4. Fleurt

3263 Sacramento St.: Fleurt integrates monochromatic palettes and contemporary and traditional elements to create floral designs. An early June stop at its stop revealed elegant arrangements including one featuring white calla lilies, pussy willows, white hydrangea blooms tinged with green and rolled Ti plant leaves. (415) 751-2747,


Floral designer Yuki Nakashima at Fleurt



5. Goodbyes

3483 Sacramento St.: Just in time for summer, this consignment shop stocks fashionable sunglasses, hats for the beach, sleeveless shift dresses in vibrant, patterned fabrics, gauzy tunics, lightweight tees,  feminine blouses and flirty dresses among its racks of designer and name brand women’s clothing, shoes and accessories. (415) 674-0151,


6. The Ribbonerie

3695 Sacramento St.: Spools of fine grosgrain, satin, taffeta, velvet and specialty ribbons and trims in polka dot patterns, stripes and solids create a whimsical atmosphere here. The Ribbonerie also offers classes such as Ribbon Flowers #2 taught by artist and author Candace Kling, noon-3 p.m., Saturday, June 15. ($50 class fee). (415) 626-6184,

The Ribbonerie

The Ribbonerie


Thomas Moser’s San Francisco showroom presents “Soupçons Délice,” a solo exhibition of portrait and landscape paintings by artist William Broder. Through August 1. Opening reception, 5-7 p.m., Thursday, June 13. 3395 Sacramento St., S.F. (415) 931-8131,,