Noe Valley Voice October 2002

Artists Open Their Studios in Record Numbers

By Laura McHale Holland

Children have to wait until Halloween to ring doorbells and receive something sweet. But art lovers of all ages can knock on doors each weekend in October and be welcomed to a feast of creative delights. How can that be? you ask. It's the annual San Francisco Open Studios, now in its 27th year. This time around, Noe Valley artists will unveil their work on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 12 and 13.

A week before the 2002 Open Studios entry deadline, a record 820 artists from around the city had already signed up, and more than 30 of the participating artists live or work in Noe Valley. Art on view will run the gamut from painting, printmaking, sculpture, mixed-media, glass, and photography, to ceramics, jewelry, and even handmade furniture.

Open Studios is a great opportunity to just indulge your senses, but if you fall in love with an exquisite work by an undiscovered master, you can purchase your prize right on the spot.

From 1969 to 1982, 21st Street resident Bill Burke made pottery and sold his wares at street fairs. "Those were the years when the street fairs were a very viable marketplace for crafts. In '82, I went into other things. I eventually became a dot-com'er. Even more eventually I became a failed dot-com'er," he laughs.

In 1999, Burke returned to his studio, where he started creating sculptures that are loosely based on functional forms. "I do wheel-thrown work and then alter the form by paddling and by adding slabs to build a unique form that looks like it might be a box, bowl, or bottle. I also do slab and coil building. This is my first go with Open Studios. I'm hoping to move pots out of my house and studio to create a little space for me and the cat."

Another first-time participant in Open Studios is Alvarado Street resident Rena Buchgraber, who moved here three years ago from Germany after she won a green card in a lottery. Buchgraber's day job is in graphic design, but her passion since she was a teenager has been photography. A seasoned world traveler, she has taken photos in such unusual places as a banana plantation in Costa Rica, a cigar factory in Cuba, and a meat market in Hong Kong. "I'm not so much trying to document these places as to show the inherent beauty in often overlooked details. I choose canvas as an output medium. Then I mount and finish it to enhance the painterly effect of my color images," she says.

Longtime neighborhood artists are also well represented. Sanchez Street residents Jenny Badger Sultan and her husband Henry Sultan have been frequent participants in Open Studios for the past 20 years. They both do drawing, painting, and mixed-media work. They have also both used a recent trip to Nepal for inspiration, though Jenny is quick to point out that their styles are different. "The work I have right now is quite varied. Some of it comes from mythological sources, some from dreams, and some of it from trying to symbolize inner experiences. Most of my work is in acrylic. Henry did one piece that sums up the situation of an artist finishing graduate school and then going out into the world and basically being met with no place to earn one's living as an artist, but it's very humorous. He's been incorporating some three-dimensional aspects into his paintings as well," she notes.

Sultan echoes the sentiments of many other artists when she says,"Neither of us is associated with a gallery, and we have found that whole realm to be a difficult one. So the fact that Open Studios exists as a way to show one's current work has been wonderful. There's nothing else like it. We don't really view it as an economic thing. A lot of our work is big and expensive. Selling is not the main issue. The point for us is to have the current work there for people to see, and that's great!"

Last year, artists did group shows during Open Studios at Terra Mia ceramics studio on Castro Street and at Noe Art Space on 23rd Street. They were so successful that both locations will have a bevy of artists displaying their work again this year.

And now the Open Studios group show has caught on at On Lok's 30th Street Senior Center. "If you think you're going to see some doddering old arts and crafts, you're in for a big surprise," says Marianne Hampton, a volunteer art teacher who is curating the On Lok show. It includes Hampton's work as well as that of six other artists, all of whom take art classes at the center. Some just began creating art in their golden years, but others have been artists throughout their lives.

"I wish my paintings could set an example for others. I never knew I could paint," says Francisco "Paco" Alvarado, who paints landscapes and portraits inspired by his native El Salvador. "It has brought me so much satisfaction. And being in an art show is a whole new dimension. It's exciting that people will come and see our work. Perhaps it will bring us some recognition; perhaps it will be only a project. Maybe I can even sell some of my paintings," he says.

The map and list of neighborhood artists on this page, and a good pair of walking shoes, are all you need to get started on this free treasure hunt. In addition to the Noe Valley artists, other artists exhibiting their work on Oct. 12­13 will be those living in Glen Park, Bernal Heights, Duboce Triangle, Eureka Valley, and the entire Castro and Mission districts.

Neighborhoods participating Oct. 5­6 will be South of Market, Potrero Hill, North Beach, Russian Hill, Tenderloin, Bayview, Portola, and Excelsior. The Oct. 19­20 weekend will feature artists in the Richmond, Sunset, Fort Mason, Marina, Pacific Heights, Haight, Hayes Valley, Buena Vista, West Portal, Diamond Heights, Twin Peaks, and Mount Davidson neighborhoods. The weekend of Oct. 26-27 will showcase artists in Hunters Point. All participating studios will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.

For those who'd like to do the grand tour, a map of studio locations will be published each Wednesday during October in the San Francisco Bay Guardian. Also, San Francisco Open Studios has published a guide that features images of artists' work and contact information for many of the participating artists. The guide is being distributed free in bookstores, coffee shops, and other businesses throughout this month. For more information, visit M

Here's a sampling of Noe Valley artists showing with Open Studios on Oct. 12 and 13, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.:

1. Laura Deem & Jennifer Kuzmic
340 Eureka Street

2. Renato Martinez
4244 23rd Street

3. Terra Mia Studio:
Susan Arnot, Renata Belash, Pali Boucher, Deborah Hicks, Lisa Lazarus, Doriene J. Lopez, Melody Marks
1314 Castro Street

4. Tino Rodriguez
4065 24th Street

5. Ben Pax 272 Jersey Street

6. Bill Burke 3767 21st Street

7. Rena Buchgraber
420 Alvarado Street

8. Noe Art Space: Sherrod Blankner, Dennis Gardner, Martha Hubert, Richard Price, Diane Rollins, Simon Sullens 3901 23rd Street

9. David LeCheminant
206 Vicksburg Street

10. Michael Markowitz
3747 23rd Street

11. Don Garlow
816-1/2 Church Street

12. Chris Grassano
3765 20th Street

13. Ric Blackburn
111 Liberty Street

14. Larry DeDionisio
925 Guerrero Street

15. Melissa Yarbrough
1330-B Guerrero Street

16. Doron Fishman
4066 26th Street

17. John Claude Hundt
1375 Sanchez Street

18. Ray Buffalo
251 28th Street

19. Marie Kelzer
238 28th Street

20. On Lok Studio:
Paco Alvarado, Emily Bratt, Ana M. Halimah, Marianne Hampton, Ilona Kadar, Hope Moreci, Mary Yung
225 30th Street

21. Jenny Badger Sultan
1696 Sanchez Street
Henry Sultan
1698 Sanchez Street

22. Charles Trapolin
630 30th Street

23. Sherri Hepler
537 Valley Street