The 2nd Lower Polk Art Walk

In case you missed the first Lower Polk Art Walk back in July, it’s a cool event to highlight the Tenderloin-ish galleries and thriving art community by staying open later than usual (until 10pm), printing a guide map for those unfamiliar with the area, and organizing some special events for the day. The video above by the Neighborhood Empowerment Network describes the shows at the various galleries included in the event as well as some murals so you can get an idea.

Since the Lower Polk Art Walk is a a quarterly event, the second edition took place on Thursday with an even greater participation than the first. For the occasion, Fern Alley became an “Artists in the Alley” outdoor night gallery with about a dozen artists showing (and selling) their art for those passing by — for example Daniel Barron. They also had some video projections, an artist talk at White Walls, live painting by APEX and Chad Hasegawa, as well as some trees wrapped in toilet paper as you can see below. So if you missed it, keep an eye out for the next one via their site or Facebook page!

Call For Entries: Art Can Feed

Ramon’s Tailor, the new-ish matchbox-sized gallery at 628 Jones is preparing an in installation in November for which they are requesting submissions. Since we know many of you Tender readers are either struggling artists or have friends/baristas/hot dates who are, we thought we’d let you know about it.

It will be called “Art Can Feed” as it will involve donating the food required to be used in the installations (at least one nonperishable food can or package) to the St. Anthony’s Foundation once the show is over.

The deadline for proposals is Friday, October 21, 2011, 5:30pm. Selected entrants will be announced on Tuesday, October 25th. The show opens Thursday, November 3rd and runs through Sunday, November 27.

You can read the full list of requirements for the proposals here, and get some inspiration here. Good luck!

The Tender This Weekend: Kiddie Park Cleanup, Trolley Dances & more!

This weekend is packed with cool events, which is very convenient as it looks like the summery weather is going to hold until of course it doesn’t… These are some of our favorite events, but you can check out the Tender Calendar for a full listing of Tenderloin/Civic Center related happenings. Have a great weekend!

Photoby Alyssa Jones


  • 10am-12pm: The Friends of Macaulay Park, that little children’s park at the corner of O’Farrell and Larkin (middle of the Naked Hood), partner with San Francisco Recreation and Parks and Neighborhood Parks Council to clean up the park every other month. They scrub down the equipment with soap and water, sweep up debris on the playground, weed and rake leaves in the planter areas and prune the trees. Their volunteers are families, friends and neighbors of the children who use the playground and they’re always looking for more help since as you know parks are scarce in this neighborhood–especially clean parks for children.
  • 12-5pm: like every month on the 15th, artist Michael Swaine will be sewing for the people at the Tenderloin National Forest (Cohen Alley, Ellis at Leavenworth). Get there early if you have needs and remember that leather is usually a problem, even if it has large holes
  • 1-9pm: UN Plaza Intervention, as part of the Reclaim Market Street! public art series. The Plaza will be transformed into a dynamic and interactive play space for children, parents and friends. As the sun sets, film screenings of A Trip Down Market Street (1906) and its 2005 remake by Melinda Stone and Liz Keim will be shown to educate citizens about Market Street’s rich history. Film archivist Rick Prelinger will also provide films from his collection that depict life on Market Street. And Off the Grid will provide some food trucks. Not provided: a general plan to revitalize Market Street that doesn’t revolve around art.

Saturday AND Sunday

  • 11am-6pm: The third weekend of ArtSpan’s Open Studios will take place in the Bayview, Tenderloin, SOMA, Dogpatch and Potrero Hill neighborhoods, featuring the work of over 200 artists… blah dee blah blah… I have no idea why they even bother mentioning the Tenderloin, as there only three studios listed on their map. But they have a shuttle for the lazy or anti-MUNI crowd. As usually, street art will remain free and viewable year round.
  • Trolley Dances, features a great lineup of Bay Area dance “luminaries”, who will take audiences from the Civic Center’s San Francisco Public Library to the West Portal Muni Station. This urban dance/public transit adventure will start at the 6th floor Terrace at the Main Library, dancing to music featured in the library’s exhibition, “American Sabor: Latinos in U.S. Popular Music”. Performance tours, led by “tour guides”, will then board the K, L, or M Muni/Metro, head underground, and emerge at the West Portal Muni Station, with performances along the way by Tat Wong Kung Fu Lion Dancers, and Epiphany Productions Sonic Dance Theater featuring students from SFSU. Performances are free (aside from the MUNI fare) and will occur six times a day both Saturday and Sunday. Tours run at 11:00am, 11:45am, 12;30 p.m., 1:15pm, 2:00pm, and 2:45pm beginning at the SF Main Public Library (100 Larkin Street, SF CA 94102). Don’t worry, participation isn’t required as we know none of y’all have any rhythm.
  • Kare-Ken Japanese Curry opens tonight!

    About a week ago we mentioned that Kare-Ken restaurant, specializing in Japanese curry, was about to open on Jones at Geary. The good news is that, after many delays, they’re finally opening tonight! (Right now, actually, and until they run out of food.)

    It’s a soft opening as their interior is not fully finished, so they’ll only be serving to-go boxes from their sidewalk window. As you can see in the picture of the menu that we just snapped, they have chicken and pork katsu, dry beef and meatball curry as well as, of course, a vegetarian option. Since it’s their opening night, they’re having a special neighborhood price of $7 per box. Depending on how it goes tonight, they’ll be open during the weekend as well. Their full opening should be Thursday or Friday next week, when they’ll be serving their full menu.

    Many of us have been waiting patiently for months for this to happen, so run there and get yourself some curry. We’ll update later with a photo of the one we’re about to get for ourselves. Enjoy!

    >Update (1hr later)

    Two words: yum, yum.

    The katsu curry

    Is art the way to “reclaim Market Street”?

    According to the city, by 2015 Market Street will be reborn as the culmination of a four-year public process called the Better Market Street Project. So, since the beginning September the artist collaborative called Studio for Urban Projects has been staging a series of interventions along Market to engage the public in the street’s potential futures, with the the support of SPUR and SFMTA. They’ve called this series of public events Reclaim Market Street!, and have paired them with an an exhibition showcasing similarly experimental urban planning projects in other cities, such as Paris, Bogotá and New York. The main premise behind Reclaim Market Street! is that “artists can be provocative agents in helping us to re-imagine our cities”, and particularly a street that “needs to be the city’s most vibrant public space”.

    As part of this series, last Saturday I checked out an interesting Sidewalk Intervention event. It included a Listening Booth at the UN Plaza in which people were encouraged to sit down and to listen to an attentive listener for five minutes to emphasize “brightening effect of being listened to” (my mother would agree). There was also what looked like a little mobile parklet by the fecal fountain, but which was called Urban Hedgerow, hosting discussions on how to create “wild, unmanaged green veins throughout San Francisco made of hedges, sidewalk gardens, treetops and stream corridors — thoroughfares for songbirds, pollinators and other urban wildlife”. A bit further between 5th and 6th streets, by the defunct St Francis Theater soon-to-become the CityPlace Mall, passersby were invited to collectively imagine a new Market Street through play, humor, and dialogue through changing the messages on the former theater’s marquee. And last but not least, a collective sweeping took place in front of GAFFTA, where people were invited to take a group broom and help clean up the street — transforming the simple act of sweeping into a public dance event.

    It was a sunny and fun day, but after spending a couple of hours hanging out with the different artists who were struggling to involve the passersby into their sidewalk actions, I couldn’t help but wonder (like I’ve wondered before with projects like this) if art is actually enough to revitalize a place like Mid-Market. I keep thinking that a lot more needs to happen. Of course, the city is doing more than art (ie payroll tax exemption), but it seems that a lot of emphasis — and money– is being put on public art projects that are hardly achieving anything. They definitely help and make the area more enjoyable while the murals/performances/actions lasts, but afterwards the vacancy rates of awesome historic buildings remain, the street keeps being dirty and the overall socioeconomic problems preventing its development are still there. So why is the transformation of Mid-Market, à la Times Square in New York, so elusive?

    Would love to hear your opinions, though, so rant away in the comments.

    Jane Kim got tossed (in a pool)

    So Tuesday night the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation held their 19th annual “celebrity” Pool Toss fundraiser at the Phoenix Hotel. And we say celebrity in quotation marks because the only name that rang a bell in their list of VIPS to be tossed in the pool was our favorite local politician to pick on, Supervisor Jane Kim. And of course, this event was yet another opportunity to pick on her because she’s as elegant as a one legged moose on a frozen lake. Just check out her pool toss outfit, including a fuchsia headband and a non-matching tracksuit instead of the bikini or summer dress that everyone in attendance was expecting:

    Now, we already know that Jane Kim doesn’t know how to bicycle, but it appears she doesn’t know how to swim either. I mean, could she look any more like a wet pug? Thank god that the Golds Gym lifeguards were on hand to grab ass help her to safety. When asked for comment, Jane Kim simply wrote on her Facebook wall “That water is chilly!” and probably adding, “Wait, am I on a bike again?”

    Not even after the dip in the pool, wet shirt and all, did Jane Kim manage to look the least bit sexy. At least Chris Daly last year wore a suit (and his wife), although it’s obvious that water, supervisors, and sexy are an ugly match.

    In spite of the obvious lack of overall sexiness, this silly pool toss event somehow managed to raise $338,000 for the TNDC’s efforts to provide after school programs to low-income youth. Good for them.

    And if unfashionable people jumping into hotel pools is your thing, check out the rest of the photos over at the Fog City Journal.

    World Homeless Day celebrated with random occupations

    Today was World Homeless Day and, like last year, it was celebrated by local homeless advocates led by the squatters’ collective Homes Not Jails — with Frank Chu in an advisory role. Their main focus was occupying vacant buildings around the Tenderloin, as opposed to say, SOMA, North Beach, or everywhere else that’s vacant in SF these days.

    According to their website, they gathered at Civic Center by Larkin & Fulton at 5pm and were joined by members of the hashtag-friendly OccupySF protestors. At this point, according to Chron intern Vivan Ho who was there, the group was about 20 people with nearly as many journalists covering it. Sounds like the SF I know and love…

    The group then rallied towards the former Cathedral Hill Hotel at 1101 Van Ness Avenue, which was subsequently occupied. They reported that most if not all of the rooms remain furnished and in habitable condition. Apparently, the protesters were allowed to stay after security did a safety check through the building. Afterwards, at around 8pm, part of the group split and moved on to the former Charlie Hotel building at 1030 Geary, right above the shuttered Infusion Lounge. For a little bit, they partially blocked traffic on Polk Street but the police merely yawned as if saying it would be illegal were traffic not to be blocked on Polk.

    I then stopped petting my neighbor’s cat and left the comfort of The Tender HQ to go check out the “action”. I saw about 50-70 people gathered in front of the building, which contains 17 apartment units that they said should be opened to homeless individuals immediately. They were all eating dinner (spaghetti, I think) served by what appeared to be the guys from Food Not Bombs. I overheard the leaders discussing where to go next, but there didn’t seem to be a clear plan. There were also a few people inside of the building, eating their dinner quietly as well. Across the street four media vans and a couple of police cars were watching the action. On my way back home I saw one of the cops buying some food at Jebena, presumably donuts.

    I have no idea if more buildings were occupied as was their initial plan, but I wish they hadn’t focused exclusively on the buildings that are vacant because of the planned CPMC Hospital. For example, how about raising some attention towards 655 Geary? I mean, shouldn’t the main target for such actions be buildings that owners are deliberately keeping vacant for speculation (Hibernia Bank, anyone?) instead of the ones that have an actual development plan?

    A thought on reducing violence

    We just got word via SF Citizen that, starting early this morning and until early voting begins tomorrow at 8am, David Chiu will be holding a 24 hour marathon of campaign events throughout San Francisco. He will make a stop in our neighborhood at 2:30am to discuss public safety at the Tenderloin Police Station, 301 Eddy Street. So if you have insomnia and would like to experience being in the police station in the middle of the night, or you are a Chiu and/or Chiubacca fan who’d like to see how he looks when sleep-deprived, then don’t miss it.

    Somehow this has reminded me of this great quote from criminologist David Kennedy from a discussion last week at the Stanford Law School with East Palo Alto Police Chief Ron Davis about strategies for reducing shootings and homicides in low income neighborhoods. David said he constantly faces skepticism that violence can be diminished in the inner city unless drug use and dealing are first eliminated. His response:

    We have lots of communities in America that have drug use, drug dealing and no violence. They’re called ‘suburbs’.

    So what do you guys think? Can violence be reduced in the Tenderloin without also reducing the amount of drug use and dealing?

    Photo by Bluoz

    Socialist feminism vs Anarchism debate tonight

    Maybe some of you will remember the short-live Then Again consignment store at 747 Polk Street, between Ellis and Eddy in a block full of mysterious business (Hawaiian massage?). Well, since mid-September it has been the the organizing center and the home of Bay Area Radical Women and the Freedom Socialist Party. For some reason they’ve named it New Valencia Hall, and from outside it looks like an office with a small library.

    So if socialist feminism is your thing, that’s the place to go. Also, tonight they’re having a special event including an Italian dinner at 6pm followed by a lecture by feminist author Andrea Bauer. They’ve called it “Socialist Feminism vs. Anarchism”, since she’ll examine the philosophical differences between these two schools of thought and political action at a public forum. In addition to writing extensively on economic and international issues, Bauer is a queer rights activist, pop culture critic and environmentalist.

    Dinner will be served at 6:00pm, program starts at 7:30pm. Door and dinner is $10.00, door is $2.00. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to share their views.

    Kare-Ken Japanese Currry, finally close to opening

    At the beginning of June we were contacted by Ryan (pictured above) telling us about his upcoming Japanese curry project on Jones Street in the space where popular Eden’s Mediterranean Turkish and Greek Restaurant used to be. It is to be a called Kare-Ken, which in Japanese means Curry House and yes, you’ve guessed it, it will specialize in Japanese curry served at the counter. There will also be a “curry portal” takeout window for quick access to the goodness.

    After nearly a year looking for a space with his two business partners, Ryan was so excited to share his plans that he even sent us the future floorplan of the space and picture renderings of the interior and exterior design. He told us their plan was to be open by August 15.

    A few days later we met up with Ryan who showed us the construction in progress, and we even took some photos. Around the same time we also got word of the space right across the street starting construction to become a new restaurant too, a project by one of the owners of the Salama Halal butcher shop around the corner and, coincidentally, the former chef from Eden’s Mediterranean, Vahit Besir. They had plans to also open around August 15.

    Of course, as anyone familiar with how this permit-heavy, NIMBY-laden city treats small business owners in general and restaurants in particular could have guessed, the opening of both restaurants got delayed. But Grill House Mediterranean, as it ended up being called, opened a few weeks ago while Kare-Ken is still waiting. And so is the whole neighborhood, as we’ve been receiving emails asking about the fate of their restaurant as well as questions in the street from impatient locals.

    Ryan has been keeping us posted, explaining how they’ve had to deal with several ventilation and electrical issues that have been holding up the permitting process. Then last month, when they’d passed all the obstacles, they were told they needed to fix the sidewalk for better accessibility to their restaurant. At one point Ryan told us, frustrated, “I feel the people who live on the block have more sympathy for us than the City”. We can only sympathize and hope that they’ll be finally opening in the next few days.


    While they iron out their website, you can follow Kare-Ken latest developments via Twitter @karekenSF