Miss A Columnist

Abigail Howe, an Arizona native, attended college at Wellesley and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and has a Masters in IT Management from California Institute of Technology. When she's not managing IT implementations at her job, she enjoys being active -- hiking with her dog, Triathlons, and bike rides. This accomplished musician, who plays the piano, flute and oboe, is having a blast exploring the San Francisco music scene. She is passionate about animal rescue, her Scottish heritage, and baseball.

San Francisco Arts Scene

 I realize that although this blog started as ‘an assignment,’ it is part of the new ‘Dream’ of my live, which will allow me to begin a new…with a new job and new city.

San Francisco is known worldwide for it’s Performing and Art venues, and it continues to aspire to be a center of creativity within the Bay Area (and some would say California). The community from museums, to performing arts to children’s exhibits is one that is recognized globally and locally for its dedication to artistic innovation, its imagination in the exploration of ideas and its sustained commitment to creatively engaging our community in the contemporary art experience.

You can be sure to encounter exhibits and exhibitions inspired by living artists, or by the renowned master and ‘world tours’ of gallery exhibits. The San Francisco arts, and artists, seek to create through them and with them a fully integrated center of artistic inquiry that embraces diverse aesthetics and ideas.   

San Francisco Dream Home Raffle –YBAC

Neighborhoods: Noe Valley

YBCA Dream House Raffle

701 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94103

 800-870-7886

The property was donated to benefit the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts presents contemporary art from the Bay Area and around the world that reflects the profound issues and ideas of our time, expands the boundaries of artistic practice, and celebrates the diversity of human experience and expression. Raffle tickets are $150. The Grand Prize winner chooses either the Dream House or $1.5 million in cash. The Grand Prize Drawing will take place on July 10, 2010.

This Arts and Crafts style residence totals over 3500 square feet, comprising a glorious 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath home with 4 fireplaces and a completely self-contained 1 bedroom, 1 bath apartment. The home is located in San Francisco’s Noe Valley, within walking distance to transportation, world-class shops and restaurants.  This home is Just steps from the neighborhood parks, shops, and restaurants, that I reviewed, and the custom home features spectacular views and close proximity to downtown. It is an exceptional home in an exceptional area.

So, yesterday, I confessed to having a secret fantasy to live in Noe Valley. Well it turns out that anyone can have this opportunity, as the Yerba Buena Arts Center began a raffle for one of the refurbished “Victorian” dream homes that was donated to raise money for the performing arts center associated with the Mosconi center. Last years raffle was so successful, that they’ve reprised the new-construction with offering tickets to win a townhome right around the corner from my destination. I was curious, and planning to return any way to finish my exploration – and it was close enough to be very convenient.

For me it was tastefully done, with just San Francisco enough flair for me to wish. Anyway, I was certainly impressed with updated and creative furnishing and gorgeous backyard. Hats off to marketing execs, who understand the true value of the real estate market, to be able to create value for the Arts and the community.

San Francisco Symphony

Neighborhoods: Hayes Valley, Civic Center/Tenderloin
201 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94102

(415) 864-6000

www.sfsymphony.org

Davis Symphony Hall is a beautiful space, and just being in there is a cool audience experience.  The orchestra is world-class.  You can see on the musician’s faces which pieces they love to play, and these guys truly put their souls into the music.  The line for drinks at intermission is insane, and the break is only 10 min, making it challenging to enjoy a mid-show beverage without being rushed….. But then again, we don’t come for the drink! One of SF’s best outings, and should be on everyone’s “do-at-least-once list”.

Palace of Fine Arts 

Neighborhood: Marina/Cow Hollow

3301 Lyon St (at Bay St)
San Francisco, CA 94123

(415) 563-6504

Just after the 1906 Earthquake, S.F was in total ruins.  So in order to reclaim its title of being the “Paris of the West” and a major metropolis, San Francisco put in its bid in 1910 to be the first of the century to host the 1915 World’s Fair in honor of the opening of the Panama Canal. It was designed by Bernard Maybeck, who took his inspiration from Roman and Greek architecture. It was one of only three buildings from the exposition not to be demolished. The exhibition hall, which originally housed Impressionist paintings during the exposition, is now home to the Exploratorium, a state of the art interactive science museum.

The sculptured frieze and allegorical figures representing Contemplation, Wonderment and Meditation were created by Ulric Ellerhusen. The lagoon was intended to echo those found in classical settings in Europe, where the expanse of water provides a mirror surface to reflect the grand buildings and an undisturbed vista to appreciate them from a distance. Australian eucalyptus trees fringe the eastern shores.

This is a strong showing of what City planners can do an amazing job in proclaiming to the world just how strong we were in our ability to rise up out of the rubble from the 1906 Earthquake. Throughout the World’s Fair, the various other exhibits were housed in other European and “Dome” like structures throughout the Marina District toward Van Ness Ave.  But it was the Palace of Fine Arts that stood the test of time because of its beauty.  

But it is wonderful late at night. Grab a loaf of bread and go feed some water fowl! It’s peaceful and quiet with stunning lighting on the dome. If you’re scared of wildlife I’d go during the day. Rats, raccoons, opossums and the occasional skunk have been known to show up at night. Just ignore them, and they keep going like no one’s there.

Yerba Buena Center For the Arts

Neighborhood: SOMA
701 Mission St, (between 3rd St & Opera Aly)
San Francisco, CA 94103

(415) 978-2787

www.ybca.org

YBCA is a such a beautiful gem in the middle of the city!  I walk around here often with friends no matter what time of year it is.  When my peeps are in town, we go and enjoy a cup of tea at Samovar with the city views every now and again as well.  The beauty of living in San Francisco, is that the waterfall was erected in homage to our most influential leaders, open grassy knolls on which to rest our heads in the middle of the hustle and bustle of downtown, theaters where you can see children put on skits or adults mime…The YBCA is an awesome venue.

I’ve been here numerous times to see dance performances and for an event they had called the bay area guide to independent fashion. The all day event was so much fun because they had fashion and trunk shows by local designers (I got to walk for an awesome designer hellyn teng/ ht habitus). The YBCA offers so much, and. they have dance performances, film screenings, exhibitions and other special programs. It’s worth checking out. I can also highly recommend the many food vendors, ranging from frozen yoghurt to high-ice cream to corn dogs and salads. There is something for everyone.

Smuin Ballet

Neighborhood: SOMA
44 Gough Street (between Page St & Rose St)
San Francisco, CA 94103

(415) 556-5000

www.smuinballet.org

No amount of words can express how much I love the Smuin Ballet.  Whenever I have to choose which dance company to watch I usually go to see the Smuin Ballet (they have different programs for each season). This ballet company isn’t your ordinary ballet company they’re so much more! Their programs are so much fun and refreshing to watch as compared to traditional ballet companies.

The music, choreography, costumes, etc are so wonderful. If you think the traditional ballet companies are too stuffy for you then give this dance company a chance. Even if you drag a guy, or a non-dance expert, with you I’m sure you’ll both enjoy it.

Also, I saw the Smuin ballet when they performed at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and not at the Mountain View location. The YBCA is a great location, the theater is small so whether you sit in the orchestra or terrace you’ll get a great view.

Opera in the Park

Neighborhood: Marina/Cow Hollow

John F. Kennedy Dr, at Sharon Meadow
San Francisco, CA 94118

www.sfopera.com

I love the smell and feel of professional ballpark grass, and it was so cool being able to walk on the field and spread out for a picnic. (you have to get there early to get on the field though).

Opera in the park is free and fantastic! Even if you are not a fan of opera or can’t understand what is going on, the experience is something everyone in the bay area should try.

Sitting somewhere in the middle of Sharon Meadow on a worn blanket with a wheel of blue cheese, a box of water crackers, and a bottle of whatever’s on sale at Trader Joe’s, it’s impressive to hear and see the local talent. For those who are less bucolic, Sharon Meadow (or as the locals call it, “Hippie Hill”) is hugged by Kezar Drive in the eastern part of Golden Gate Park near the Haight.

There are the hot chocolate servers walking around in their huge packs and armed with whipped cream. It gets nippy toward the end of the night (it’s the city by the Bay remember), and the hot chocolate really hits the spot!

Currently, the SF Opera site simply says: “Join us for arias al fresco with stars from the fall season, and the San Francisco Opera Orchestra conducted by Music Director Nicola Luisotti.”

Fort Mason Center 

Neighborhood: Marina/Cow Hollow
Buchanan St. & Marina Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94123

(415) 441-3400

www.fortmason.org

I am a social creature but I also love quiet moments by myself.  It is a challenge to find a place of solitude nowadays when I-Pods abound and people just cannot seem to stop talking! It was rainy but cozy, I found a perfect place to hide, eat healthy and “green,” be surrounded by nature, arts and books.  And it is free.  

I attended a training at Fort Mason yesterday and in between classes I was able to walk around and discover hidden treasures:

   Spend a rainy afternoon browsing at the BOOK BAY and buy a $1 book:  A second-hand bookstore selling $1  and discounted second hand books benefiting the San Francisco Public Libraries.

   You can indulge your inner artist at the SFMOMA ARTIST STUDIO.

   There is also some culture at the MUSEO which is an Italian-American Center: Part-museum, part store with unique products from Italy. They also hold free travel classes for those who are contemplating to visit Umbria, Florence, Rome, etc.

  When hunger drives you, there is a healthy and “green” food at GREENS, which is a delightful upscale vegetarian restaurant at Fort Mason. They have a takeout cafe as well. (FYI–Greens is pricey.)

 Last, but not least, I shall not forget to peep into that TELESCOPE to look at some passing ships up the mouth of the San Francisco Bay or the myriad of sail boats.

Parking is plenty and  free outside of the gates of Fort Mason by the Marina (if you can find it). Otherwise, parking is expensive at Fort Mason.  You don’t have to spend any money (except lunch and book) to enjoy these precious moments. It is all free. Or just bring your own. You don’t have to spend a dime!

Legion of Honor

Neighborhood: Outer Richmond

100 34th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94121

(415) 750-3600

www.famsf.org/legion/index.asp

The Palace of the Legion of Honor is the best place for a “France addict,” because it is a piece of France. They even brought two real rooms here from the buildings in France. But this museum has one mummy from Egypt so I will not be able to sleep in this museum at night.

Currently, they are showing the real mummy (King Tut) in this museum.  It is also a sister museum of “de Young Museum” and is the most beautiful museum in San Francisco. I adore everything about this museum including the views of Golden Gate Bridge and the city, the beautiful building, the permanent collection, special exhibits and music concerts.

Some people reviewed this museum saying, “I feel like I am in Europe!”  They are 100% correct because the building with the same name and the same design exists in Paris. If you have never seen the original one in Paris, you should check it out here. This was also the only US showing of the Women Impressionist historical exhibition – which was also a fabulous integration of women artists from US, France and EU with Mary Cassatt, Lilla Cabot Perry, Mary Elizabeth Price, Anna Boch, Camille Pissarro, and Lucy Bacon.

This popular museum boasts over four thousand years of European art.  It is located in Lincoln Park which is in the Richmond District area of San Francisco. Located right next to the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate.  The Park grounds are lush and green and perfect for a warm afternoon stroll.

The museum was built in 1924 and opened to the public that same year on Armistice day.  It is a tribute in honor of the soldiers who lost their lives in World War I.

Rodin’s Thinker occupies the court of honor which is situated at the main entrance to the museum.  It is the focal point to the Legion of Honor which draws crowds and photographers from all over the world.

The ancient art collections include pottery and sculptures from the Mediterranean regions such as Greece, Egypt and Rome, just to name a few.

Asian Art Museum

Neighborhood: Civic Center/Tenderloin
200 Larkin St, (between Fulton St & Grove St)
San Francisco, CA 94102

(415) 581-3500

www.asianart.org

First off let me say thank you to Target for sponsoring the first Sunday of every month at the museum. Nothing is better than an afternoon of free culture. The line to get in moved swiftly as we began our journey. We were in and exploring the treasures in no time and although we decided to just do the main exhibits and not the special exhibits there was still so much to see.

We lazily wandered from piece to piece learning about the development of art and society in the various and  diverse countries of Asia. Statues, paintings, relics and artifacts gave us insight into cultures that have influenced much of our modern societies. It is a great museum overall with a wide array of objects. It is not too large or too small, just the right size to spend an afternoon with friends or family discovering your heritage or learning more about a culture different than yours.

Even the folks who are not usual museum goers will enjoy this place. They have amazing artifacts, some from the BC times on display. The whole place is set up extremely well starting from the overall building structure/skylights to the exhibits themselves. They have touch screen TVs that give you more info as well.  This would be an exceptional venue for a company party as well. They have huge halls that can be used for dancing etc in addition to the main museum.

The current exhibit is of the Shanghai, with a historical art and political significance…which is breath taking in it’s scope of not only the age, but of the dramatic changes in the Chinese Culture.

De Young Museum

Golden Gate Park
50 Tea Garden Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118

(415) 750-3600

www.deyoungmuseum.org

San Francisco is not a museum town, but even when people are busy walking around and going to restaurants, there is an impressive selection of art to look at.  But this place is my favorite museum spot in the city by far.

The permanent collection isn’t extensive, but well worth a look, especially for its West Coast 20th century art.  The traveling exhibits here are usually wonderful.  They are well put together visually.  Then there is the building and surrounding grounds, which I find quite beautiful.  If it’s sunny, going up to the top of the tower is a must.  The views from there are stupendous.  

Get ready for the huge exhibitions at “de Young Museum” from the May 22nd, 2010 to September 6th, and then from September 25th to January 18th, 2011. When Orsay Museum in Paris temporarily shuts down its French Impressionism painting sections for refurbishment, its 220 masterpieces will come to this museum in San Francisco. The de Young will be the only in the world to host those exhibitions. At the same time, Legion of Honor hosted the special exhibition “Women of Impressionism.” Current it houses the traveling exhibit “Impressionist Paris: City of Light.”

California Academy of Sciences Nightlife

55 Music Concourse Dr
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, CA 94118

(415) 379-8000

www.calacademy.org/events/nightlife

I went to the Nightlife exhibit at Cal Academy of Sciences because it’s FREE during your birthday week.  I’ve been twice in the daytime, and it was my first Nightlife. The hours are 6p-10p on Thurs.  I wanted to start around 6:30pm, but we had to drive around and fing street parking in Golden Gate Park.  There’s underground parking, but for $11 – I’m a bit snobbish.

Nightlfe has a$12 entrance fee, but for birthday person FREE. Tickets are available outside main door, and we didn’t have to wait very long.  They take credit cards.  After getting tickets, still need to show ID to get in, then show someone else your tickets to be scanned – can you say cautious.

Got tickets for the Planetarium – there’s 3 show times: 6:30; 7:30; 8:30.  I picked 8:30pm, and we walked around to see other stuff first.

We went to the Rainforest.  It’s too hot & humid in there, but I love  utterflies.  Once at the top, then you take the elevator down to the Aquarium – fun to see all the fishes, jelly fishes, etc.  It closes at 8pm so go EARLY!

Went to the Living Roof.  Saw the Moon through telescopes.  Learned a bit about constellations and astronomy ‘research’, we also saw North Star, Big Dipper, Orion’s Belt, Sirius, Caspia. Also attended the discussion Paul Salazar gave about the stars w/ a powerful laser pointer.  That was interesting and very spectacular.

Waited in line for the entry to the Planetarium, moves a bit slow waiting for everyone to get seats.  The presentation was a Science in Action “Universe Update” with Ryan Wyatt, Director.

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