Noe Valley Voice February 2008

Short Takes

Two Parks Celebrate Renovations

Everyone is invited to Dolores Park on Saturday, Feb. 2, from 11 a.m. until noon, for an "I Love My Playground" Valentine party. The Friends of Dolores Park Playground has partnered with the Neighborhood Parks Council to host the event, which will celebrate a boost in funding for renovation of the playground, at Dolores and 19th streets. "We want to create a world-class playground at Dolores Park," said Nancy Gonzalez Madynski, a spokesperson for Friends.

To get people into the swing of things, the Alphabet Rockers--a band that "mixes cool with school"--will perform songs from its debut CD Alphabet Rockers. Refreshments and valentines will be shared, and Supervisors Bevan Dufty and Ross Mirkarimi will be on hand to applaud the grassroots effort. Mayor Gavin Newsom has been invited, too.

For more information about the Friends of Dolores Park Playground, visit

If you miss that celebration, your next park date will be the Feb. 9 dedication of the new children's playground at Noe Courts park on the corner of 24th and Douglass streets. Kids can try out colorful new play structures and swingsets in a freshly surfaced park, courtesy of a fundraising campaign launched more than three years ago by Friends of Noe Courts Playground. Festivities, which were still being arranged when the Voice went to press, will kick off at 11 a.m. To find out the particulars, email Laura Norman of FNCP at

The Story of a Pig in Love

Noe Valley resident Maria van Lieshout has published a children's book, Bloom! A Little Book About Finding Love--starring a pig who falls in love--just in time for Valentine's Day. Bloom's publication marks van Lieshout's debut as an author/illustrator, though she has previously illustrated two books published in her native Holland and one for a Canadian publisher.

The book's story and pictures have already won acclaim: Images from Bloom were selected by the Society of Illustrators for its 49th Annual Exhibition in the Museum of American Illustration in New York and for publication in its spring 2008 annual. Publisher's Weekly praised the book in a starred review in the magazine's December 2007 issue.

This month, van Lieshout will celebrate the local launch of her book with a Valentine's book party at Cover to Cover Booksellers, Castro Street near 24th Street, on Thursday, Feb. 7, from 5 to 7 p.m. The author will read from Bloom, create some drawings, and sign copies of the book. To find out more about Bloom, visit

Ministry Hosts Bluegrass Stars

The Noe Valley Ministry is host to three of the 30 shows scheduled for the ninth annual San Francisco Bluegrass and Old-Time Festival, which runs through Saturday, Feb. 9. A total of 57 bands will perform at 17 Bay Area venues, including nearby Cafe du Nord, the Make-Out Room, 12 Galaxies, and the Atlas Café. This year, the nonprofit, all-volunteer-run festival includes a two-day bluegrass and old-time film festival at the Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight Street between Cole and Shrader streets, and a full day of workshops.

The performances at the Ministry, 1021 Sanchez Street between Elizabeth and 23rd streets, feature some of the festival's most prominent acts. On Saturday, Feb. 2, the Crooked Jades, Stairwell Sisters, and the Spring Creek Bluegrass Band will perform together. Tickets are $20 in advance or $22 at the door. Then on Friday, Feb. 8, catch Jackstraw, Fret Not, and the Wronglers for $18 in advance or $20 at the door.

On the final day of the fest, Saturday, Feb. 9, Peter Rowan will perform with Eric and Suzy Thompson; tickets are $23 in advance or $25 at the door. All Ministry shows are at 7:30 p.m.; doors open at 7 p.m. For more information about the festival or for advance tickets, visit Advance tickets are also available in person at Streetlight Records, 3979 24th St.; 282-3550.

A Yogi Who Makes House Calls

Noe Valley yoga teacher Brick Thornton has developed a new twist on an ancient art: personalized yoga lessons at home.

Thornton, who lives on 25th Street but spent four years studying and teaching yoga in India, hopes his approach to yoga will make it accessible to more people. "Too many people are beginning to believe that only the super-fit and hyper-flexible can enjoy yoga's benefits," he says. "[But] yoga was never meant to be exclusive."

When he makes a home visit, he says, he first assesses his client's goals and physical condition. Then, with the client's help, he develops a specially tailored program of yoga stretches and meditation. "A practice is designed for you from the ground up," he says.

Not only does Thornton provide private yoga instruction, he also teaches doctors and outpatients at Kaiser Permanente. For more details about his in-home yoga service, visit

Money for Collaborative Artists

More than $650,000 is available from the Creative Work Fund to support literary and performing artists working in collaboration with nonprofit groups. Grants of $10,000 to $40,000 will be awarded in September 2008 to artists living in Alameda, Contra Costa, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, or Sonoma County. The directors of the Creative Work Fund are looking for proposals in which artists plan to create new art and work actively with a nonprofit to engage members of the community.

To participate in the selection process, artists and their collaborating nonprofits must submit three-page letters of inquiry by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 5. Letters of inquiry should go to the Creative Work Fund, One Lombard Street, Suite 305, San Francisco, CA 94111.

Detailed information about the application process is available online at

Protect Those Picassos

If you've run out of space on the refrigerator for your kids' artwork, don't despair. Debbie Symanovich, who lives on Worth Street near Alvarado School, has created a way to preserve the piles of art children bring home. Through her home business called HeartBound, she makes heirloom-quality hardcover books of children's art. Typically, the books have 20 pieces of art, which are reproduced using archival inks and acid-free materials.

Symanovich, who launched HeartBound in 2005, has recently added new products, including a coffee-table book, note cards, prints, and clipboards. To find out more, visit her web site at www.heart, email debbie@heartbound .net, or call 415-695-0274.

Music Series Plays Heartstrings

The Noe Valley Chamber Music Series presents a special Valentine's performance this month featuring the vocal group San Francisco Renaissance Voices and lute performer Scott Shubeck. The troupe will perform a "Feast for St. Valentine" on Sunday, Feb. 10, at 4 p.m. First, the audience will witness a trial in the Renaissance Court of Love, complete with troubadour songs, airs de coeur, and music for the lute. After the judge renders her verdict, celebrate with the group's performance of Orlando di Lasso's tongue-in-cheek mass Missa super Mon Coeur se recommande à vous (My Heart Is Offered Still to You).

A few weeks later, on Sunday, March 2, cellist Jennifer Culp and pianist Betty Woo will perform the Strauss Sonata in F major, Op. 6, and the Rachmaninoff Sonata in g minor, Op. 19. If the ink is dry, they'll also perform a new piece written especially for them.

All Chamber Music Series concerts are held at the Noe Valley Ministry, 1021 Sanchez Street at 23rd Street. General admission tickets are $18. More information, including the rest of the spring 2008 concert lineup, can be found at

Photographer Focuses the Mind

Neighborhood psychiatrist and photographer Robert Root, who has lived in Noe Valley for 12 years, recently published a book of his photographs. Image in Mind: Perspectives on Culture, Landscape, and the Photographic Relationship includes 74 color images from Root's travels across several continents.

Although Root trained for the practice of psychiatry at Yale Medical School, as a photographer, he says, "I am essentially self-taught and have considered myself a photographer for about 20-plus years." Photographers and psychiatrists, he believes, share a certain sensibility.

In Image in Mind, he explains, "By observing with an open mind, and paying attention to the feelings elicited by these images, we learn more about humanity and suffering."

The book is available at Cover to Cover Booksellers on Castro Street and Phoenix Books on 24th Street.

Poetry Book Launch for Janell Moon

Local poet Janell Moon, whose office is on 23rd Street, is publishing her 10th book this month, a volume of poetry titled Riding Free in a New Studebaker. According to Moon, this is the book "I was meant to write."

Moon will appear at the Radar Reading Series, hosted by Michelle Tea, on Tuesday, Feb. 12, at 6 p.m. sharp at the San Francisco Public Library's main branch, 100 Larkin Street at Grove Street. She'll read again with Leslie Kirk Campbell at the San Francisco Center for the Book, 300 DeHaro Street at 16th Street, on Friday, Feb. 22, at 7 p.m. A free broadside of a poem will be available there.

If you miss her at those readings, be sure to catch Moon on Monday, March 3, at 7 p.m. in the Gallery Café at the All Poets Welcome Reading Series, 1200 Mason Street at Washington Street in San Francisco.

Play Explores Love and War

Come Home, a solo play about 26 black soldiers who leave their home in rural Arkansas to fight against Germany in World War II, is making its world premiere this month on the main stage at the Marsh. In the new work, playwright Jovelyn Richards explores how war and violence change the soldiers who fight and the families who wait for them back home. Her heroine is Donna Ray, a joyful young bride as the play opens, a resilient Mrs. D at its close. Performances are scheduled Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., Jan. 31 through March 8. Tickets are available on a sliding scale, $18 to $35 each. For tickets, call 800-838-3006 or visit