Noe Valley Voice February 2003

Short Takes

Old-Time Bluegrass Festival

The Noe Valley Music Series will host part of the fourth annual San Francisco Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Festival, coming to San Francisco, Berkeley, and Mill Valley the week of Feb. 7­16.

Talent showcased in our neighborhood will run the gamut from the traditional True Blue to the edgy Crooked Jades, and from the up-and-coming Hot Buttered Rum String Band to the iconic Darol Anger and Laurie Lewis.

The first of four local concerts will be held Friday, Feb. 7, and will feature the bands Keystone Station, True Blue, and Dark Hollow. Then Jackstraw, Strung Over, and the Hot Buttered Rum String Band will perform Saturday, Feb. 8. Tickets for both of those shows are $14 in advance and $16 at the door.

The groups Tom, Brad & Alice and the Crooked Jades will wow the crowd on Friday, Feb. 14. Tickets for that show are $15/$17. Darol Anger's American Fiddle Ensemble, along with Laurie Lewis and Her Bluegrass Pals, will perform until 11 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 15. Those tickets are $25, both in advance and at the door.

This roots festival is very popular, so advance ticket purchase is advised. Tickets are available without service charge at Streetlight Records, 3979 24th Street, or by mail to S.F. Live Arts, P.O. Box 862, Fairfax, CA 94978. Tickets with a service charge are available at all BASS outlets, as well as by phone at 510-762-BASS.

All concerts begin at 7:30 p.m., earlier than most Noe Valley Music Series shows, and take place at the Noe Valley Ministry, 1021 Sanchez Street at 23rd Street. For more information about the festival, visit

Homeless in Cardboard

"Encampment," an installation by local artist Dianne Platner, opens at the San Francisco Art Commission's gallery in City Hall on Wednesday, Feb. 12. The installation consists of 75 peaked-roof cottages hewn from cardboard signs, which Platner collected from homeless people throughout the city.

Each only 8 by 14 inches in diameter, the dwellings were inspired by the relief cottages built for people rendered homeless by San Francisco's catastrophic 1906 earthquake and fire. An accompanying video documentary will be on view at the opening reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Shown on three monitors, the video reveals some of the personal stories behind the signs. "I have a perception that not many people in Noe Valley have been able to converse with a homeless person at DuBoce and Mission or Fell and Van Ness," says Platner, who resides on 23rd Street. "This exhibit is an opportunity to do that, to start that conversation."

Also in the exhibit are autobiographical paintings by Stan Cohen, travel photographs with accompanying stories by Jeff Davis, and fantasy paintings of a future San Francisco by Richard Delvin.

"The gallery in City Hall is a community art space," Platner notes. "It took me a considerable amount of work to get in, but it's worth every effort. There are a lot of artists in Noe Valley who do incredible work, and it's an opportunity to be seen by a wider audience," she encourages.

The show is on the ground floor of City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place (between Polk and Van Ness streets), through March 23. Admission is free. For more information, call 269-6462 or e-mail

For Love of Puzzling

An enigmatic sort of love will be in the air Feb. 1 and 2 at the San Francisco Mystery Bookstore on 24th Street. The store is hosting its first Mystery Lovers Weekend, where mystery fans can meet and talk with authors of whodunits from the Bay Area and beyond.

"There will be a forum each day beginning at 2 p.m.," says Diane Kudisch, the store's owner. "The theme is how do you create and develop characters in a mystery novel. Local authors are scheduled for Saturday, and authors are coming from out of town on Sunday."

Saturday's lineup includes Noe Valley author Cara Black, whose fourth book in the popular Aimée Leduc series is coming out in April; Mark Coggins, formerly of Noe Valley, whose contemporary private-eye series is centered in Silicon Valley; Rhys Bowen from Marin County, author of two mystery series, one situated in Wales and the other in early 20th-century New York; Catherine Coulter, suspense thriller and romance writer from Marin; first-time author Twist Phalen, who has written a Pinnacle Peak mystery; and San Franciscan Peter Plate, whose gritty, dark mysteries take place in the Mission.

Out-of-town luminaries featured on Sunday, Feb. 2, will be Deborah Turrell Atkinson, Kathleen Delaney, David J. Sherman, Sue Owens Wright, and Kit Sloane. Each author will speak for 20 to 30 minutes. Questions from the audience will round out each afternoon.

The weekend of intrigue is free. And authors will have books on hand to autograph. The San Francisco Mystery Bookstore is located at 4175 24th Street, between Castro and Diamond streets. For more information, call 282-7444.

The YMCA Comes to Play

From cooking classes to yoga, golf to hip-hop aerobics, the Mission YMCA is bringing a host of classes to the neighborhood this spring. Most classes are for children, but more adult and teen offerings are in the works.

Three of the kids' classes will take place at the Noe Valley Ministry, 1021 Sanchez Street. YMCA chefs will teach a "Cooking for Kids!" class geared for 7 to 10-year-olds on Tuesday afternoons from 3 to 4 p.m. Kids ages 5 to 11 can learn the rules of golf and how to putt and drive at the "Indoor Golf" class on Thursdays, 3:15 to 4 p.m. (The equipment is provided, and parents and guardians are welcome to participate in the class, too.) On Tuesday mornings, from 8 to 8:45 a.m., children ages 4 to 6 can do deep-breathing and stretching exercises at a yoga class that promises "a fun morning of play."

The Ministry classes are offered in three four-week sessions, ranging in price from $30 to $35 per session, or $90 to $105 for all three. The first session runs from Feb. 11 to March 6; the second from March 18 to April 10; and the third from April 22 to May 15.

The Mission YMCA is also holding sports instruction for children ages 3 to 5 on Tuesdays, 11:15 a.m. to noon, and Thursdays, 3 to 3:45 p.m., at Douglass Playground at Douglass and 26th streets. The lineup includes soccer, basketball, T-ball, and flag football, offered in a series of four-week sessions. The pee-wee soccer session ends on Feb. 13, but there's still time to sign up for the other three, beginning with basketball on Feb. 25. The price is $30 per session.

The first session of a hip-hop aerobics class open to adults of all physical abilities began at the Noe Valley Ministry on Jan. 16. The class is offered in three five-week sessions on Thursdays from 6:15 to 7:15 p.m. The cost is $35 per session. The second session runs Feb. 27 to March 27; the third from April 24 to May 22.

In addition to class fees, the YMCA charges a one-time $35 annual program fee. However, financial aid is available. And coming to Noe Valley soon will be classes in adult Pilates, martial arts, step aerobics, dance, high school sports, and tennis for kids.

To register for any of the current classes, call Jason Dowd at 452-7574 or contact the Mission YMCA at 4080 Mission Street (between Mission and Silver streets); phone 586-6900. For more information, visit the YMCA's web site at

The Sketch Club Legacy

"Projections," a new show by San Francisco Women Artists (SFWA) is at Gallery Sanchez through Feb. 28. Juried by Electra Long, an artist who teaches painting at City College's Fort Mason campus, the show represents the work of 18 Bay Area women.

The pieces included are in a variety of media, including acrylic, watercolor, watercolor and litho pencil, oil, color and digital photography, monotype, acrylic collage, and mixed media. Neighbors chosen for the show are Sanchez Street resident Ellen Chestnut and Laura Hollis, who lives on Liberty Street.

"I'm showing two monotypes. It's a printmaking technique where you draw on an acrylic plate in ink, and then you print it. It's a very painterly technique," explains Chestnut. "I'm excited to be in this show because there are a lot of very fine artists in this organization, so for me it's an honor to be part of this group."

SFWA began in the 1880s and was informally dubbed the Sketch Club. It was an independent group of San Francisco women artists who met to share and critique each other's work. In 1925, they changed their name to the San Francisco Society of Women Artists. They adopted their current name in 1946. The group consists of women artists throughout San Francisco and the Bay Area.

Admission to the show is free, and art work will be for sale. Gallery Sanchez is in the Noe Valley Ministry, 1021 Sanchez Street. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Call 826-1895 for more information.

A Not So Odd Monday

Local author Olivia Boler will be featured at the Noe Valley Ministry's Odd Monday Series on Feb. 9, from 7 to 9 p.m. She will read from her first novel, Year of the Smoke Girl, published in 2000 by Dry Bones Press, as well as from her new novel, Along the Way.

Year of the Smoke Girl is a story about a young woman who is at a crossroads in her life, trying to find her true self. She discovers a family secret that helps in her quest. Along the Way is a "road-trip" novel about two young people who are connected because they have each experienced the death of a beloved family member.

"Although the subject of Along the Way sounds heavy, the book has a lot of humor in it. There's quick dialogue and pacing, and fun supporting characters," says Boler, who lives on Diamond Street. "I would like to read mostly from Along the Way, because I haven't done a reading from it before," she adds.

After the reading, Boler will answer questions from the audience. "If people want to ask about how I was able to publish my first novel or about getting published with a small press rather than going the traditional route, I'd be happy to address that," she says. "Also, if they have questions about writing in general, that is something I love to talk about."

Boler is a contributing writer to the Noe Valley Voice, as well as an editor of the paper's Last Page, which features fiction and poetry. The Noe Valley Ministry is at 1021 Sanchez Street at 23rd Street. For further information, call 821-2090.

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