Noe Valley Voice October 2002

Short Takes

Bach Blanket Babylon

Jake Heggie, composer of San Francisco Opera's smash hit Dead Man Walking, is hosting a gala benefit concert and silent auction for Noe Valley Chamber Music on Monday evening, Oct. 21, at the Noe Valley Ministry.

Heggie has lined up an eclectic mix of friends to help him entertain, and the roster is full of notable local talent, including cellist Emil Miland, soprano Kristen Clayton from the San Francisco Opera, and Curt Branom, Patrick Reese, and Tracy Chiaponne, three principal singers with the show Beach Blanket Babylon.

"They'll be doing a combination of American cabaret-style music, as well as some art songs from the 19th and 20th centuries," says Eric Valliere, who has been coordinating the Noe Valley Chamber Music series since June. "Jake wants the program to be somewhat spontaneous and surprising for folks."

Since 1992, Noe Valley Chamber Music has presented Sunday afternoon classical music concerts monthly from October through May. Proceeds from this 10th anniversary gala will help keep the ticket prices in the $8 to $12 range.

"We have a dual mission with our concert series," says Valliere. "One is to enable audience members to have a more casual experience than they can usually have with great music, and the other is to allow musicians to perform music they love that they might not get to sing or play otherwise. This is a chance for an opera singer to sing Kurt Weil, or for someone in Beach Blanket Babylon to sing an art song. It's a real opportunity for everyone to enjoy themselves."

Tickets for the benefit concert, which is also the season opener, are $50. Auction bidding begins at 6 p.m.; the concert begins at 7 p.m. The Noe Valley Ministry is at 1021 Sanchez Street, at 23rd Street.

To reserve tickets, call 648-5236.

Once in a Blue Moon

It took a year of fundraising, a generous landlord (Noe Valley developer Louise Zweben), and the help of more than 50 volunteers during construction to launch the Blue Moon Gallery. But this neighborhood arts center, which opened in June on Mission near 19th Street, promises to be worth the effort. "The San Francisco arts community was devastated by the dot-com bubble. Many artists were forced out of the city because of high rents and a shrinking number of places to show their work," says Paul Mahder, Blue Moon's director. "We have created a space to nurture new and emerging artists and, we hope, to give them a solid incentive to return to San Francisco."

Since Blue Moon is nonprofit, he says, it can offer its exhibiting artists higher commissions for their work than many commercial galleries. Shows in the main gallery change every six weeks, and a mezzanine gallery houses a growing permanent collection. Featured this month are photographer Diane Fenster and sculptor Jesse Clark. Their opening reception is Oct. 17 from 6 to 9 p.m.

Blue Moon also hosts weekly performances that range "from string quartets to salsa, and mime to mambo," says Mahder. And the gallery provides free art appreciation classes and gallery walks for neighborhood residents, including children.

"It's amazing to watch kids explore art for the first time. They are so excited, so intuitive, and so observant," notes Mahder.

Blue Moon Gallery is at 2331 Mission Street. To find out more, call 282-8411 or e-mail

Barking Up the Right Park

Calling all pet lovers! You and your furry friends are invited to the first annual "Big Bark in Dolores Park," a benefit for RocketDog Rescue. The event will be held on Saturday, Oct. 5, from 1 to 5 p.m., and will feature live folk and blues music, a parade of dogs available for adoption (some in wacky costumes), great food, and many vendors who cater to pets and their owners.

Some of the participating vendors are Tracy Calvert, creator of "Biff the Dog," a character who teaches tolerance, acceptance, and compassion; Bernal Beast, a pet store on Cortland Avenue; Lo-Fi Customs, carrying a line of silk-screened shirts designed by San Francisco artists; and Fog City Doggie Day Care.

RocketDog Rescue is a nonprofit group that rescues animals that may be at risk for euthanasia at Bay Area shelters. The group first tends to the animals' medical and behavioral needs, and then finds them homes. Headed by Pali Boucher and staffed by a core of 25 enthusiastic volunteers, the organization has rescued 100 dogs in the past year, and was awarded a 1,000 Points of Light Award in 2001. (The Points of Light Foundation is a national nonprofit that promotes volunteerism.)

Volunteers wearing RocketDog T-shirts and holding donation buckets will be welcoming contributions large and small throughout the afternoon. They'll also have many pups to nuzzle. "We have lots of incredible dogs to adopt, including a litter of tiny hound dog puppies, born in the last week of August," says Boucher.

Dolores Park is along Dolores between 20th and 18th streets. If you can't attend the event but want to make a donation, call 642-4786 or write to Rocket Dog Rescue, 756 Ellsworth Street, San Francisco, CA 94110. For more information, visit

Dance Under the Stars

Members of St. Paul's Church on Valley and Church streets will be decorating the Irish Cultural Center on Saturday, Oct. 19, to create "A Night Under the Stars." That's the heavenly theme for their gala dinner dance and silent auction.

"The silent auction will run from 4 to 8 p.m. Dinner will be at 8, followed by a live auction. Dancing will probably start around 9:30," says Katy O'Shea, director of St. Paul's capital campaign.

Tickets are $65, and the deadline for reservations is Oct. 11. "We are paying down the retrofit debt that we have, plus we're installing a new roof on the church. So we have a debt of $1.4 million to the archdiocese, which we're paying at the rate of $14,000 per month. This is one of our major fundraisers during the year to help with that," says O'Shea.

The Irish Cultural Center is at 2700 45th Avenue, off Sloat Boulevard. For further information, or to donate something for the auction, contact Katy O'Shea at 648-7538.

Parker House AIDS Benefit

The Parker Guest House will hold its fifth annual fall benefit luncheon on Saturday, Oct. 12, from 1 to 5 p.m. Co-sponsored by the Parker Guest House, Supervisor Mark Leno, and 2223 Restaurant and Bar, the benefit is expected to raise up from $15,000 to $20,000 for the AIDS and Breast Cancer Emergency Funds.

Co-hosts for the afternoon's festivities will be Supervisor Leno and Donna Sachet, who held the Miss Gay San Francisco title in 1993 and the Empress of San Francisco title in 1995. The Sarah Knutson Quartet will entertain, and lunch, soft drinks, wine, and beer will be served courtesy of 2223 Restaurant. Thousands of dollars in prizes will be raffled off too.

The event will take place in the Parker Guest House gardens at 520 Church Street, near 17th Street. Tickets are $75 per person, and every penny of the proceeds will go directly to the AIDS and Breast Cancer Emergency Funds. For tickets, call 621-3222 or visit

Peer Groups for 55 and Up

If you've already celebrated your 60th birthday, San Francisco State University has a swell deal for you. For $75 per year, you can join Sixty Plus, and have the chance to audit university courses without fee. You can also become part of a lively group that meets twice a month on campus to share a speakers program, conversation, and refreshments. The group's other benefits include out-of-town bus tours, reduced ticket prices for performances of the San Francisco Ballet and Symphony, and use of the university library and athletic facilities.

For a membership application, contact Beverley Bender at the school's Sixty Plus office at 566-9347. San Francisco State University is located at 19th Avenue and Holloway.

Meanwhile, if you've made it to 55, and if you're a good listener, you are invited to join the all-volunteer senior peer-counseling team sponsored by another local nonprofit, the Family Service Agency. You'll learn how to give emotional support to fellow seniors who may face isolation, transition, medical, and other challenges in their day-to-day lives. All services are free.

For more information, call Nancy Alpert, LCSW, at 474-7310. If you don't want to provide counseling, but just need some support yourself, your call will be welcomed as well.

This month's Short Takes were written by Laura McHale Holland.