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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The Fillmore’s history of displacement

Monica Lundy, Visiting Team (in San Francisco)

Monica Lundy, Visiting Team (in San Francisco)

ART | LUCY GRAY

You visit the exhibition. The first picture you come to, you see the woman’s mouth open and she’s waiting — maybe waiting to hear what you have to say, that cigarette poised between her fingers. It’s Billie Holiday, looking radiant, in Awaiting Arraignment. Created by Monica Lundy out of 22 karat gold, white gold, coffee and ashes, Holiday shines, her eyes saying: “I’ve been caught, but not for long.” She’s the opposite of someone who lived in the Fillmore and got displaced; she just came to sing for a night or two and got incarcerated.

Next to Holiday there’s a picture of three people at a booth at Jack’s, the first bar in the Western Addition built for an African American clientele. There’s a beautiful woman with sass, looking right at you, toasting you, with her money spilled out on the table, daring you to disrespect her and her fox fur. The men on either side of her are more like ghosts with protective fury in their eyes.

Feeling for these people is beginning to grab you by the throat and ask you what you’ve done to make it happen, or what you can do to make up for it now.

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Cocktails with artistic flair

Design by Michael Schwab

SALOONS | CHRIS BARNETT

Eternally preppy saloon impresario Perry Butler’s landmark joint at 1944 Union Street is a museum of all things newsworthy in San Francisco for the last 47 years, with nary a square inch of empty wall space. But he’s long felt something was missing. “I’ve always wanted a poster,” he says, “A simple, clean, classic illustration of our signature cocktail.”

Perhaps Butler was listening to his inner adman. After all, his dad was a Madison Avenue heavyweight whose newly minted Dartmouth grad son had a brief fling in the hard-drinking agency world of the 1960s. He didn’t like it.

Two years ago, Butler approached San Anselmo graphic designer Michael Schwab, possibly the Bay Area’s most prolific and passionate poster artist. Schwab turned him down, saying he was too busy. Schwab’s style — strong, simple, retro images in warm, bold colors reminiscent of the ’20s and ’30s — makes even Alcatraz look inviting. The Golden Gate National Park Conservancy, which runs The Rock, has enlisted Schwab to produce a series of posters capturing the various places in the national park the conservancy oversees.

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Japantown fountains in limbo

One of Ruth Asawa's origami fountains in Japantown when the water flowed.

One of Ruth Asawa’s origami fountains in Japantown when the water flowed.

By FRAN JOHNS

It’s hard to find people in Japantown these days who remember when the water stopped flowing and the once-lovely fountains on the Buchanan Street pedestrian mall became two interesting but somewhat curious sculptural objects.

This is not what widely beloved, internationally renowned San Francisco Japanese-American artist Ruth Asawa had in mind when she created them four decades ago.

Yet it is not clear when — or whether — anything will be done to reclaim and restore the fountains.

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A stylish office close to home

Partners Steve Mohebi, Yves Behar and Amir Mortazavi in their new space.

Partners Steve Mohebi, Yves Behar and Amir Mortazavi in their new space at 2193 Fillmore.

A NEW SHARED “forward-thinking workspace” with refined aesthetics and upscale amenities is in the works in a long-vacant upstairs space at Fillmore and Sacramento.

Expected to open in September, Canopy will offer shared tables, a personal desk or a private office in an airy space with communal areas and conference rooms for a price: $650 to $4,000 per month.

The concept of “workspaces located in the heart of where people live” is the brainchild of industrial designer Yves Behar, developer Amir Mortazavi and investor Steve Mohebi, all of whom live nearby.

“Canopy was born from a desire to have a place near our homes where we could work and be inspired,” said Behar. “Our goal is to bring great people together in a mature work environment that stimulates great ideas that design can amplify.”

Canopy will offer shared tables, a personal desk or a private office (above).

Canopy will offer shared tables, personal desks and private offices (above).

Many of Behar’s own designs will be featured, including his modern office furniture for Herman Miller, his Juicero Press juicer and Sodastream sparkling water. Jane on Fillmore will do the catering, and there will be Sight Glass coffee and Pique tea.

While Fillmore is the first Canopy location, the founders hope to expand the concept to other locations throughout the country and eventually around the world.

“Pacific Heights — and specifically Fillmore Street — was the perfect place to prototype the Canopy concept,” Behar told Forbes, “because the demand just wasn’t being met.”

Mortazavi pointed to the many desirable aspects of living in Pacific Heights and to Fillmore’s restaurants and boutiques.

“We never really need to leave the neighborhood, except to work,” he said. “Canopy fulfills the missing piece of having a perfect living situation.”

Canopy’s workspace will feature furnishings designed by Yves Behar and others.

Canopy’s shared workspace will feature furnishings designed by Yves Behar and others.

The blue bridge blues

Rendering of proposed improvements to the bridge at Fillmore and Geary.

Rendering of proposed improvements to the bridge at Fillmore and Geary.

THE NONPROFIT San Francisco Beautiful has taken on a new local project: the forlorn bridge at Fillmore and Geary. A conceptual rendering has been released by SWA Group and fundraising has begun.

“I think that we can all agree that the bridge, which spans Geary at Fillmore, has fallen on hard times and needs some new paint,” writes SF Beautiful executive director Darcy Brown in announcing the project. “Well, we didn’t think that would be enough to enhance this rather high profile transit hub that almost everyone in the entire city experiences at one time or another so, we went to the Fillmore community and asked them what transformation they wanted to see happen. We then met with our friends at SWA Group, an international design firm, to use the suggestions and create a rendering.”

Brown says of the rendering: “Beautiful isn’t it? In order to make this rendering a reality, we need all the help that we can get. The Blue Bridge belongs to all of us and in order to transform the decor from what I call mid-century prison yard to a beautiful crossing that we can all be proud of, we need contributions to match the city’s grant.”

To learn more or contribute, go to sfbeautiful.org.

Conjuring a musical moment

ROCK & ROLL impresario Bill Graham helped launch a new era in both music and performance when he began presenting shows at the Fillmore Auditorium in the ’60s. He also helped launch a new art form by commissioning artists to create posters to promote and commemorate the shows, a practice that continues today.

MORE: The art of the Fillmore