On Sunday, July 1, 2007, I drove to San Francisco for the Fillmore Street Jazz Festival. I mainly went for the music. In that regard, I was disappointed: there simply wasn't much of it. Most of the time I was out of earshot. A Berkeley festival a few years back had better jazz--the Berkeley Jazz School is great!--and enough musical stages, jazz or not, that I could hear music from anywhere.
Despite my complaints about the music, it was still a good festival. There were many exhibitors. I'd seen a good fraction of them at the past fairs (especially the Union Street Festival, which was run by the same organization). These duplicate (but cool) vendors included the metal souls sculpture people, the mondrian glass women (who I spoke to at the last festival), the greenies growing head booth, the recycled chopstick dude, the booth selling wooden thingamajigs that make noises like frogs, the bonsai seller, the metal suns guy, the modern art Game clue seller, Anne Xu's photography booth, and the flower painting person.
While exploring the festival on this crazy windy day, I took the opportunity to observe Fillmore Street itself. It has many boutiques and galleries, some neat cafes, and the like. One, Bittersweet, specializes in chocolate. It had many fancy chocolates and its desserts looked delicious.
As for the festival itself, aside from the aforementioned repeat vendors, it had the usual assortment of vendors of clothing, hats, jewelry, photographs, art, wood products, etc. Some artists stood out such as one who makes African art, another who takes weird photographs and artificially combines them in unusual ways, and a third who paints cityscapes, often with stadiums, and then prints those paintings onto jigsaw puzzles.
I'll comment on many noteworthy vendors either in the list below or, if they allowed photography, in the caption by the appropriate photograph in the collection of photos and movies I took.
- Xavier Nuez photographs urban backwaters. I enjoyed browsing online through all his photos; many of them have interesting, suspenseful stories. He mostly displayed work from his collection of alleys. Read the overview at the bottom. This NPR interview provides another good overview of his work and experiences. These scary stories struck me:
- "This is where they dump the bodies."
- "This woman is truly a miracle – I gotta protect her.”
- "My boss thinks maybe you’re a terrorist."
- "This is epic. This is the roman coliseum; this is a modern American ruin.”
- "Stop where you are. This is the police!"
- "More than most locations I shoot, this is one where I can feel the ghosts of the past."
- Craig Fonarow, judging from his photographs, likes reflections.
- Lisa Kristine's photography simply made me write "wow" in my notes. I think perhaps it's the way she saturates her colors.
- Chris Honeysett's black and white photographs have crisp, clean lines.
- One booth sold photographs of animals. It had pictures of pengiuns and thus stood out from animal photography booths at other festivals.
- Edward Davis seemingly photographs only lighthouses, up and down the California coast.
- Michele Feder draws and paints many animals, plants, fruits, flowers, and other natural forms. Several years ago, she was commissioned to create drawings of 175 seashells for a hotel renovation. I chatted with her about it. A sizable task, she deserves respect for her devotion, commitment, and persistence. Also, I like the warmth and luminosity in her abstract paintings of clouds / balls of color.
- Leroy Parker has cool, abstract paintings.
- Smadar Livne makes paintings and mixed media wall hangings, some of which incorporate Hebrew texts, fabric swatches, and images of a keyboard. Bold, creative stuff; interesting to look at!
- Michael Phillips produces funky art. His pieces are made of oil, but their sheen makes them appear to be a more exotic material.
- Sakovich Studios has paintings, mostly of cars and car parts (especially fenders). The artist also paints graffiti and murals.
- Second City Arts sells night lights made from thin stone or wood. The wood ones are cut to make the outline of a plant or animal. The stone ones are done similarly, but with the stone cut so thinly that light can generally shine through it.
- I found one booth with pretty, painted bamboo bowls. Then I spotted two more booths selling bamboo bowls (!), although these weren't painted.
- One booth sold lamb slippers. If I didn't live in California, I'd buy a pair.
- One person sold posters of old-style advertisements.
- ArcTyp makes metal body casts of people. They're kind of mesmerizing because they allow one to stare at somebody's body, examining it with more intensity than would be possible and socially acceptable for a real person.
- Michael K: Accessories for the Interior makes simple, clean, thin glass vases.
- One stand sold mosaics made of very many tiles, all hand-made. Painted then glazed, they reflected light like glass.
- Chris Efstratis makes large, vaguely cubist, sculptures of heads and small "sideways face pots," somewhat similar to the face jugs I saw in the High Museum in Atlanta.
- Near the end of my trip, I walked by IMEX, a store selling Chinese embroidery, but was tired from the rest of the festival and so didn't stop to look.
On my way out of the festival, I crossed an intersection controlled by police officers. One female officer grooved to the festival's music as she told people when they could and couldn't cross. It made us all smile.
As for the food, there were the usual deep-fried and meat on a stick vendors. Some had slightly unusual takes on the traditional festival fair: garlic pesto fries and crab garlic fries. There were only two distinctive booths, one selling vegetarian/vegan Mexican food, and the other selling New Orleans Cajun cooking. I ended up eating a "Peking chicken wrap" from one of the usual stands. It was good, nicely balanced, not unlike mu shu chicken wrapped in a tortilla into a burrito shape. Later, I bought a cup of sangria from a restaurant selling them out of its front window. It was respectably tart.