florence street

A little fun the other day: Lukas and I went to Sebastopol to pick up some herbs from Rosemary’s Garden and on the way, decided to go by Florence Street a few blocks from downtown. Florence street is the site of a lot of sculpture by artists Patrick Amiot and Brigitte Laurent, who live on the street. They have a lot of their work in their front yard and most of their neighbors have pieces too. It is quite the art walk! Lukas loved it, especially the tractor and the skeleton driving the motorcycle…

secret garden

community garden

kids’ garden at the community garden

entering the garden!

The community garden is one of my favorite places. Three year old Lukas loves to go there too. “Let’s go to the ‘munity garden mama.” he urges throughout the summer, and even in other seasons too. We don’t actually garden there but are still welcome to walk through and enjoy shade and the feeling of abundance. At the urging of one of the gardeners, we have pulled carrots and eaten strawberries out of the kids’ garden (and they were very tasty!) We like to relax a bit there after the chaos of the playground, walking past grand sunflowers, huge explosions of chard, and iridescent blue borage popping up all over the place. Compost piles in various states are up against one wall and sometimes we can hear the splashy sounds of the recreation center poolgoers over the wall as we cuddle on a bench by a mosaic birdbath, smelling tomatoes and fruit in the air and admiring the handiwork of our neighbors. Though quite visible from the park, many people don’t seem to know about this place, making it seem sort-of like a secret garden.

rupa and the april fishes


I absolutely love this band from nearby san francisco. I found Rupa and the April Fishes by chance because of the san francisco Bike Mural and when I listened to a few tracks relized instantly that I had to download their entire album. In french, spanish and english, the music is like old parisian circuses and you feel at the same time like it is night in san francisco in some beautiful, alternate universe that pervades the city all the time. The artwork for their album and poster was done by muralist extraordinaire Mona Caron (who did the Bike Mural also) Her work is beautiful in the same way and apparently they had her painting a mural behind the band at their CD release party while the show was going on. Click here to see the video To make it even more interesting, their work is licensed under the creative commons.

Image from http://www.losanjalis.com/?p=236

the erstwhile medicine show


Last Saturday morning, we traveled to old eastern europe (while in the privacy of our own town). Down at the local cafe, The Erstwhile Medicine Show, nudged us all back in time into the narrow streets of petersburg, budapest and prague. The band of 17 and 18 year olds played (well) an array of old time instruments including fiddle, standup bass, guitar, accordian and washboard. Their claim: “From new orleans funeral marches to alabama hoe-downs and klezmer gypsy jigs, the Erstwhiles will cure all your ails.” Simple and effective.

Our friend Eve, who was a dancer and now builds stone walls, summed it up when she said “It’s so nice to see good, decent teenagers these days!”. Of course, she meant, teenagers who focus on the intrigue of life itself.

And these teenage musicians dragged us all with them into the intrigue. Sound is mysterious, transporting the listener in the same way that scent or flavor does. Less obvious that the visual, music blindsides you and takes you where it wants you. And if you aren’t a musician yourself, then the next best thing is music in real life—on the street or in cafés—melodic notes that pull you into the moment, whether that moment is from some other time, right now, or both.

secret art


Graffiti is the secret art of our time. Tucked away on back walls or appearing suddenly in plain sight, it is part of the unexpected. There used to be a huge long graffiti wall in our town next to the train tracks, out of the sight of most citizens unless you happened along that out-of-the-way street off Lakeville, and then, what an amazing surprise. One kid procured permission to paint there and then it became a mecca for artists from all over the Bay Area, who painted hundreds of layers over the years. A few years ago, anti-graffiti people painted over it and created an explosion of tagging throughout the town that hasn’t stopped yet. Here are some photos taken by Scott of what the wall used to look like. wall photos

A subculture taking over public space, the dominant culture reacts. Creativity always prevails. It’s a complex subject, not really as cut-and-dry as it seems. Some of it is obviously art, some seems to be almost art, some is tagging (its own strange art), but it is all linked. Piece by Piece, a doc by filmmaker Nic Hill, explains the history of SF graffiti and some of the underlying motives. We showed the film to a packed house last spring at the local weekly film series. Adults and kids alike were captivated.

I’ve seen two little works in particular around town that I liked, one was a stencil of the Virgin of Guadalupe on the ballet studio door, the other was a tag in pink paint pen on the outdoor phone booth at pinky’s pizza that had a nice swirl at the bottom. It looked like the person had a natural affinity with the pen. I’ve seen that one other places and appreciated it but I really liked that it was at pinky’s in pink.

On the top of the Phoenix Theater is a huge beautiful mural painted by two of the town’s preeminent graffiti artists. It is a sort-of secret because you can’t really see it up there unless you get on top of the hill or climb up to the roof. You can see a corner of it when you walk by if you are looking up at the sky instead of at the ground. If you are driving, (unless you are driving down keller street and look up) you will probably never see it.

rex rising


I live in a place where the local downtown hardware store burns down, and they just go ahead and build it again as if it were the most normal thing in the world, which of course, it really is.

When REX hardware burned, everyone gathered. Teenagers wrote RIP REX on the sidewalk and cried. Signs went up with affectionate words, flowers, notes and artifacts were posted on the fence. The owners told everyone they would rebuild it the way it was and they actually are. “Hurry Jeff I need a new plunger” one person wrote on a piece of paper and posted on the fence. Long Live REX.