Meet the Tenderlocals: Akira Beard

In case you haven’t heard, the two Leftovers stores that used to be on Sutter & Polk and Polk & Bush were consolidated in one huge awesome space on Van Ness a couple of months ago. It seems somebody already took over their former store on Sutter, but the one on Polk remains vacant. Vacant but not empty, since the Space/Lopo Galleries guys had the genius idea of setting up a temporary gallery annex there under the name ‘Vacancy‘. We quite enjoyed it when we checked it out last month, and on top of that we scored a free print of the piece above by Akira Beard.

Akira Beard is an artist based in the Tenderloin, but that we’ve somehow never met. He is best known for painting layered portraits of pop culture icons with text around them, and awesome images of altered American currency. He teaches at the Academy of Art University and at an art center for elders, and we first saw his work at a show he had last year at the Shooting Gallery. We quite obviously quite liked this piece because the message could very well be our own motto about the Tenderloin, “it drives some people crazy, others can see the beauty in it”. Apparently he even made some t-shirts with it, in collaboration with Bayfitted on Ellis & Leavenworth (we’ll have to investigate that).

While we like the pieces where he uses the portrait of a historical figure or of a celebrity as a base (such as this one or this one), we really like his art with elders series and the sketches he takes of people sitting in cafés.

By the way, do you recognize the person in this portrait? (hint)

Special photo sale to help ‘Up from the deep’

We just got word that Tender friend and neighborhood documentarian Mark Ellinger of Up from the Deep may be evicted from his Tenderloin Housing Clinic low-income studio. In order to avoid finding himself homeless again, he’s doing some fundraising to remain in his current home. So he’s having a special sale of some of his photographs of the Tenderloin and Mid-Market for $100 each. All prints are museum-quality gicleé prints, printed on 13″x19″ fine art paper. There are a lot of great prints prints to choose from (such as the one below), so contact him at to purchase or for further details.

The Tender Tonight: Tenderloin artists 2012 Calendar release party!

Two of our favorite local businesses, Public Barber Salon and the loin have partnered to release a Tenderloin Art & Artists 2012 Calendar, a limited edition calendar featuring the portraits of Tenderloin artists, as photographed by Alisha Fumiko Harada and Shaun Roberts. So each month of the year you’ll get to enjoy one of your favorite neighborhood artist alongside the artwork that defines them.

As we know that you want to be in the know, the artists are Lisa Alonzo, Helen Bayly, Akira Beard, Chris Blackstock, Robert Bowen, Chad Hasegawa, Jessica Hess, Daryll Pierce, Nathan Sisler, Jason Vivona, Megan Wolfe and D Young V (photographed above by Sean Roberts). Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) none of them are naked portraits.

There’s a release party for the calendar happening tonight at Public Barber Salon, with live music by Coffee and Harbour. In addition to the calendar release, the artists will be showing select works at Public Barber through January 16, 2012. Each artist lives in, has lived in, or in some way, has a strong connection with the Tenderloin art scene, and we are excited to bring their works together for this event.

Where: Public Barber Salon, 521 Geary.
When: Thursday, November 17, 2011, 8pm to Midnight.
Copies of “Tenderloin Art & Artists 2012 Calendar” will be available the night of the reception for purchase. Copies are limited.

The Tender tonight: First Thursday Art!

It’s the first Thursday of the month, and as such there’s an art-splosion of openings tonight. For the full list, take a look at our Tender Calendar (for instance, William Emmert’s “The Squared Circle” at Kokoro Studio or “Art Can Feed” at Ramon’s Tailor). Another cool event tonight we’ll have to miss is the CinemaSpeakeasy screening dedicated to 99%-ers.

Here are a couple of the art shows favorites where you’ll find us tonight:

  • Jessie Rose Vala’s “Future Teller” show at EverGold Gallery (441 O’Farrell)
  • We stopped in yesterday while they were setting up the show, and we loved what they’ve done with the space. Considering we’ve never been let down by their shows, this will definitely be interesting.

  • The Red Bull Canvas Cooler Project Party at 941 Geary Gallery
  • This is the launch party for a project sponsored by Red Bull consisting of a series of specially-wrapped canvas fridges, each customized by a different artist, that will be later on display at various venues around the city. Some of the artists who have created these one of a kind fridges are Apex, Magdalena, Chor Boogie, Hugh Leeman, D Young V, Chez Nero, Austin Matthews, Vogue, Estria, Erik Otto, Akira Beard, Jurne, Charmaine Olivia, Kelly Allen, Neon, Ian Ross, Jessica Hess, Brett Amory.

The AoA hereby serves notice

Thursday, November 17th, you can go to City Hall Room 400 and toss your two cents in to the very deep hole that is the Academy of Art’s Institutional Master Plan. What, you weren’t aware that was actually a plan for the AoA other than buying up buildings to add to their real estate empire? Yes, there is, as the city started requiring it in 2006 (which happened to be a year before the AoA received accreditation) and you can read the updated version here.

Done with all 269 pages? Neither am I, but if you feel like getting a grasp of just how large the AoA has gotten, scan through all the addresses. Personally, my favorite bit is under “Transportation” on page 134:

It locates the bulk of its residential and educational buildings along or near existing transit corridors. It supplements City transit with a fleet of shuttle vehicles.

So, apparently we can all ride the princess limos as well? That’s awesome! I’ll make sure to bring up this topic at the hearing and profusely thank Elisa Stephens for her generosity in bolstering our public transportation system in these dire times of cutbacks…

If you want to have real fun, start looking up the addresses listed in the IMP and running them against the SF Property Map to get an idea of all the violations they’ve been racking up like 121 Wisconsin Street where they’re running an unlicensed parking lot for their princess limos.

Of course, that’s just the tip of iceberg. Look at all of the dorms (17 buildings in total) that were pretty much all illegally converted to dorms yet the AoA only claims to “lease”, yet the owner is either the Stephens Institute, Elisa Stephens, or some other name incarnation.

What animal represents the Tenderloin?

A tipster alerts us of a new series of art prints by The GRQP depicting various San Francisco neighborhoods as animals. Pac Heights, for example, is a fox. And the Mission, a donkey. Surprisingly, the Tenderloin is included in the series. Unfortunately, as a damn pigeon (we’re not fans). They say:

… we figured, hey, what better way to represent the Loin than a band of back alley pigeons. In real life they’re dirty, but on your wall their so fresh and so clean.

Shouldn’t the Loin be more of a tiger or something, given that everyone is of the opinion danger is lurking around every corner ready to eat you? A pigeon seems like it’d be the other way around on the eating front and a bit too passive. Still, cool series. Check it out.

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.
  • 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.