St. Dominic’s plans 5 new buildings

Viewed from Pine and Steiner Streets, the plan calls for new church facilities over a parking garage.

The proposed view from Pine and Steiner Streets, with new buildings over a parking garage.

LEADERS OF St. Dominic’s Church are embarking on an ambitious building program that would demolish the 1929 school building on Pine Street and add five new buildings atop a 130-car parking garage.

Three of the new buildings would house church administrative offices, a pre-school and a much larger parish hall. They would be built on an above-ground podium over a one-level, mostly underground garage.

The church building, built in 1928, would not be altered beyond completion of an ongoing $20 million restoration project.

“It’s the parish hall that’s driving this whole thing,” said parishioner-developer Bill Campbell, who presented the plans to three dozen neighbors at an April 5 hearing. “This is the most active parish in San Francisco. And there’s a great need for pre-schools.”

The first phase of the “pastoral center and residential project” is expected to cost $10 million and take 18 months.

The church has begun an environmental impact report for a second phase — “We don’t know when or how,” Campbell said — which would build about 120 residential rental units in two buildings on the corner of Pine and Pierce, with two levels of parking underneath.

The rentals will generate revenue to support the church, said Campbell.

“We appreciate that you spent 30 minutes talking about how wonderful this will be for the parish,” one local resident told Campbell. “But it will be a catastrophe for the neighborhood.”

Architectural renderings from Field Paoli

Architectural renderings from Field Paoli, courtesy of SocketSite

Farewell to two of our finest

Carol and John Field

Carol and John Field, longtime neighborhood residents.

THE NEIGHBORHOOD lost two of its outstanding citizens and creative minds in recent weeks when architect John Field and author Carol Field died within a few days of each other.

John Field was noted for the homes he designed in Pacific Heights and especially for his enlightened approach to shopping centers, including the Stanford Shopping Center and downtown Santa Barbara. He was also a filmmaker and a photographer.

Carol Field was a prolific author who became an authority on Italian food, even though she acknowledged she was “the first Italian in my family tree.” After trips to Italy to make The Urban Preserve, John’s first architectural documentary, Carol made it her mission to learn everything about Italian baking. They later owned a home there, and many more books and a novel followed. Earlier she had been a co-owner of the beloved Minerva’s Owl bookstore on Union Street.

Shortly after John died of cancer, Carol suffered a stroke and never recovered.

“She couldn’t make it without him,” neighboring chef and cookbook author Joyce Goldstein told the Chronicle. ”They were a blessed couple.”

“She seemed to listen as much with her eyebrows as her eyes,” wrote Corby Kummer in The Atlantic. He told the Fields he enjoyed visiting them “to observe at close range your utter companionability. You were and will remain my models for the complete and caring civility with which two people can treat each other.”

EARLIER: “Fillmore to Italy and back again

A younger Carol and John Field.

A younger Carol and John Field: always utterly companionable.

MORE: “She tied tradition to captivating stories

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He makes sculptures that write

Photographs by Jon Batle

Photographs of Agelio Batle’s graphite sculptures by Jon Batle

ART | CLAIRE CARLEVARO

Twenty-five years ago, I saw a piece of artwork by Agelio Batle at the Hayes Valley gallery owned by the visionary Federico de Vera. I bought the wall sculpture, then went in search of the artist.

Thus began my journey with a man whose creativity is born in spirituality and nurtured by skill: a true seeker, an explorer and a remarkable inspiration. Nature and the human figure are his inspirations. He delights in discovering the potential of unused materials, often castoffs: found photos, plastic milk cartons, discarded reference books.

In addition to his steady creation of unique works, Batle has invented a form of graphite artistry available in many museums and shops, including Hi Ho Silver at 1904 Fillmore Street.

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The ancient art of origami

Paper Tree's Linda Mihara with a goldfish made of gold paper.

Paper Tree’s Linda Mihara with a goldfish made of gold paper.

By FRAN MORELAND JOHNS

If you’re interested in creating a bit of art to make your home the envy of the neighborhood, here’s how: Pick up a 6-by-6-foot piece of paper at Paper Tree, located at 1743 Buchanan in Japantown. Fold it carefully about a thousand times or so in precisely the proper manner and voila    a dragon such as few have ever seen.

You may want to practice on something slightly less elaborate. But a glimpse of “Ryujin 3.2,” the dragon created by one of the world’s most highly skilled origami artists, now on display at the Paper Tree, is definitely an inspiration.

Origami is the ancient art of folding paper into limitless shapes. While other cultures have adapted paper-folding into various traditions, it is most closely associated with Japanese culture and heritage. It was the aspiration to honor and perpetuate this cultural tradition that led Nobuo and Shizuko Mihara to found Paper Tree in 1968. The shop is one of only a handful of family owned and run businesses remaining in Japantown.

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She brought art to the street

Cassandria Blackmore created a showcase for her work on Fillmore Street.

Cassandria Blackmore created a showcase for her work on Fillmore Street.

FOR SEVEN YEARS, people walked by the gallery at 1906 Fillmore, looked in to admire the artwork on the walls, but never found the jewel box of a space open.

That was exactly the idea.

Cassandria Blackmore, who first made her mark in the glass art scene in Seattle, transformed the storefront in 2010 into a San Francisco showcase for her art, which is uniquely her own. She does reverse paintings on glass, then shatters and reassembles them.

“I had used the concept of a small locked storefront in Seattle,” she says. “The space was shallow and easily viewed from the sidewalk. For some it was more comfortable than stepping into a gallery. I found the idea of bringing my art to the street an intriguing one and discovered that it sustained itself.”

Cassandria Blackmore painting on glass.

Cassandria Blackmore painting on glass.

Blackmore created similar spaces in Seattle, San Francisco and Carmel, and her career flourished.

But she and her husband, the musician Jon Blackmore, and their two kids wanted more warmth and sunshine than San Francisco offered. They found it in Santa Barbara.

“I had always intended to stay in San Francisco,” she says. “But when we came to Santa Barbara, I was struck by the south-facing light. There was a glow to it, nestled between the mountains and the sea.”

Then serendipity stepped in. They responded to a posting on Craigslist for a live-work space built by a pair of photographers in 1907. It turned out to be a neglected historic building two blocks from the ocean with studios that had been used by many other artists — including Diego Rivera, who painted his self-portrait there now gracing the front of Mexico’s 500 peso note.

They bought it, fought back the jungle in the side yard, and created a studio for her, a gallery for her work, a home for their family and a rental unit.

“Fillmore led us to Santa Barbara,” Blackmore says. “It was so special to be on Fillmore as a child and to return to it as an adult. It was the reentry point back to my roots in California. I will always be grateful.”

She gave up her space on Fillmore Street in February. The dream continues in Santa Barbara.

blackmore

The Blackmores have found an artistic home in Santa Barbara.

MORE: “The Blackmore family’s dream

From the Fillmore to the stratosphere

The artist Bruce Conner ran an unconventional campaign for city supervisor.

The artist Bruce Conner ran for supervisor in 1967.

ART | JEROME TARSHIS

During the early and middle ’60s, when I was thinking about moving from New York to San Francisco, one of the inducements was that Bruce Conner lived here. My avant-garde film friends thought his first film, A Movie (1958), was an instant classic, followed by one success after another.

The objects he made — assemblage sculptures — were being shown at major galleries in New York, London, Paris, Rome and Mexico City. He was in great collections on both sides of the Atlantic. Not bad for a 30ish artist born and brought up in Kansas.

A more complicated Bruce Conner is the subject of “It’s All True,” his fullest retrospective so far, almost worshipfully received earlier this year at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and now at SFMOMA through January 22.

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New Fillmore arch proposed

A new public space at Fillmore and California could eventually include a restored arch.

A new public space at Fillmore and California could eventually include a reimagined arch.

A NEW PUBLIC  SPACE would be created in the heart of the neighborhood at Fillmore and California under a proposal that will get its first public airing on November 15.

The plan would incorporate the Fillmore Stoop parklet in front of Delfina restaurant on California Street and extend it eastward into a landscaped area with public seating in the parking spaces and sidewalk fronting the Preston Apartments, Smitten Ice Cream and Dino & Santino’s pizzeria.

The ambitious plan calls for the eventual re-creation of an arch over the Fillmore-California intersection, inspired by the metal arches on Fillmore in the early 20th century erected after the 1906 earthquake and fire. The arches came to symbolize Fillmore Street and remained in place until 1943, when they were removed for scrap iron during World War II.

Leaders of the Fillmore Merchants Association earlier this year raised the idea of expanding the parklet, created by the neighborhood design firm Siol. Siol’s team has been interviewing local residents and merchants to come up with a design strategy for future public seating, signage, lighting and landscaping.

A neighborhood party to unveil the plan will be held on Tuesday, November 15, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Dino’s at 2101 Fillmore.

An Art Deco treasure is diminished

The original blueprints from 1932 show the elaborate Art Deco detailing of the facade.

The blueprints from 1932 show the elaborate Art Deco detailing of the facade.

ARCHITECTURE |  THERESE POLETTI

In the spring, neighbors and patrons of the Elite Cafe were dismayed to hear that the 35-year-old restaurant had been sold, fearful it would fall victim to the current depressing trend in San Francisco of gutting historic interiors down to the studs.

But news that the buyer was a group headed by San Francisco restaurateur Andy Chun, who was responsible for a sensitive 2014 remodel of the historic German beer hall Schroeder’s in the Financial District, reassured patrons who cherished the Elite’s Art Deco interior. Chun said his plans were to keep much of the Art Deco interior intact, but with a contemporary interpretation of the decorative style popular in the 1920s and 1930s.

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A bonsai tree as old as Japantown

David Thompson and the century-old bonsai.

David Thompson and his century-old bonsai.

WHEN NEIGHBORHOOD RESIDENT David Thompson read about plans for a Zen rock garden at the southern end of Cottage Row to commemorate the 110th anniversary of Japantown, he had an idea: That might be the perfect place for his century-old bonsai tree.

The tree has been in the same family since it was brought from the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exhibition and planted in their garden designed by legendary gardener Makoto Hagiwara, who also created the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park.

Thompson, now its guardian, has been searching for the right home for the tree’s second century. He has been connected with the Japanese landscape designers planning the Cottage Row Zen garden.

An artist on Cottage Row

Sutter Marin’s Sister, Dear Sister, There’s a Rabbit in Your Garden, painted on Cottage Row.

Sutter Marin’s Sister, Dear Sister, There’s a Rabbit in Your Garden.

By BUD JOHNS

The recent news of a possible Zen rock garden on Cottage Row brought back memories of the late Sutter Marin, the Beat era artist and poet who was a garden lover and the only Cottage Row resident I’ve known.

My wife and I live with one of Marin’s paintings, Sister, Dear Sister, There’s a Rabbit in Your Garden. After years of hearing little about him, we learned recently of “The Beat Went On: Late Works by Sutter Marin,” an exhibition featuring his work and others of his milieu at Santa Rosa’s Calabi Gallery, with a ruth weiss poetry reading and jazz accompaniment.

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