Neon on Fillmore, then and now

Photograph of the refurbished Elite Cafe sign by Daniel Bahmani

By RANDALL ANN HOMAN

The sign for the Elite Cafe, glowing again after a fire left it damaged and dark for months, is a beacon from a time when Fillmore Street was awash with neon signs announcing the street’s vibrant nightlife.

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He has his own quartet

Michael Schwab’s four street banners celebrating the Fillmore Jazz Festival.

Q & A | MICHAEL SCHWAB

The poster for the 2018 Fillmore Jazz Festival is the fourth jazz image Michael Schwab has created for the Fillmore festival. All four now hang as banners on the street.

Are you a jazz fan?

Sure. I’m not an aficionado, but as a kid, back in southern Oklahoma, I remember hearing my dad playing cool jazz albums on the hi-fi in our living room — a lot of Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond. In high school, I’ll never forget being introduced to Mose Allison: “You know a young man … ain’t nothin’ in this world these days.” Wow.

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The mystery of the three lamp posts

Three old-style lamp posts on Fillmore are dedicated to Katie Flavel. But who was she?

LOCAL HISTORY | JOE BEYER

For nearly a century, three lamp posts on the sidewalk in front of Calvary Presbyterian Church have added enlightenment on the busy corner of Fillmore and Jackson.

The two on either side have plaques attached dedicating them to the memory of Katie Flavel, who apparently died on August 19, 1910. But there is no record she was ever a member of Calvary.

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Zinc Details is calling it quits

Photograph of Vasilios Kiniris at Zinc Details by Daniel Bahmani

ONE OF THE best-known and longest-operating businesses on Fillmore Street is shutting its doors at the end of April. Zinc Details, at 1633 Fillmore, will end its 28-year run and its space is expected to become an outpost of Orange Theory, a nationwide fitness club.

“I’ve met amazing people through our store,” says Vasilios Kiniris, who owns the design shop with his wife and fellow architect, Wendy Nishimura Kiniris. “But it’s time.”

Vas Kiniris, who has been vice president, president and now executive director of the Fillmore Merchants Association, intends to devote himself fully to small business affairs in San Francisco. In addition, he has recently become executive director of the West Portal Merchants Association and executive secretary of the citywide District Council of Merchant Associations.

“I think it’s perfect timing,” says Kiniris. “Retail is morphing into a new reality, and I’m parlaying my knowledge of small business and what makes a vibrant street.”

At one point Zinc had three shops and 20 employees on Fillmore Street.

“There’s a real sense of community on Fillmore,” he says. “I want to share that.”

Vas and Wendy Kiniris in their first Zinc Details store, opened in 1990.

EARLIER: “Still modern after all these years

A buying trip to Southeast Asia

New gallery has the baraka

Photograph of Shiffen, owner of Baraka Gallery at 1230 Fillmore, by Suzie Biehler.

Photograph of Shiffen, owner of Baraka Gallery at 1230 Fillmore, by Suzie Biehler

By FRANCINE BREVETTI

If you are a tribal man of Niger intent on wooing a lady, you will likely wear a Wodaabe tunic at the Geerewol festival. “That’s where the handsome men of the tribe compete in a contest of endurance and beauty,” explains Shiffen Melaku.

Your sister would have embroidered this ritual robe for you to wear at the weeklong festival where young people meet to find mates among the other cattle-herding nomads.

Here in the neighborhood, you can buy such a garment at Shiffen’s Baraka Gallery, formerly of Oakland, and newly installed at 1230 Fillmore.

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LOVING HIS COLOR

“Tribute to Romare Bearden,” a 2007 mixed media painting by Rhonel Roberts

“Tribute to Romare Bearden,” a 2007 mixed media painting by Rhonel Roberts

By KEITH HOWELL

Rhonel Roberts’ first love was music. But painting is his passion.

The two came together for the Fillmore resident in a series of artworks he created celebrating great jazz musicians — Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, John Lee Hooker, Ray Charles and South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela. His career took off when his painting of Masekela was chosen in 2011 for the Fillmore Jazz Festival poster. It was one of Roberts’ particular favorites because he remembered the trumpeter’s rendition of “Grazing in the Grass” playing at his 13th birthday party.

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Bloomers turns 40

Photographs by Barbara Wyeth

Photographs by Barbara Wyeth

FIRST PERSON | BARBARA WYETH

The flower business is an early morning affair. My morning usually starts with an espresso at Jackson and Fillmore, then a short hop past Alta Plaza Park to work at Bloomers at 2975 Washington Street.

Opening the door, I’m met with the fragrance of fresh flowers and the aroma of more strong coffee brewing in the back room. The crew is already at work trimming, cutting, cleaning, putting flowers into water and setting up the store for another day of business. Presiding over all this industry, as he has since 1977, is owner and proprietor Patric Powell.

This year the venerable Pacific Heights florist is celebrating 40 years of flowering. That alone is a real accomplishment — a thriving small business with a rarefied and fragile product in an expensive city of fickle taste.

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A keeper of maps and prints

“Nothing is more expensive than cheap framing," says Michael W. Perry.

“Nothing is more expensive than cheap framing,” says Michael W. Perry.

By FRANCINE BREVETTI

Occasionally people enter Michael Perry’s shop at 1837 Divisadero Street and ask for maps of the Island of California. They’ve come to the right place. Among his treasures, Perry has a selection of images of this popular fallacy of the 16th and 17th centuries — that California once was its own island.

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A private guide to modern art

Jean Halvorsen leads private tours of the SF Museum of Modern Art.

Jean Halvorsen leads private tours of the SF Museum of Modern Art.

CULTURE BEAT | PAM FEINSILBER

For 35 years, Jean Halvorsen has traveled between her home in the neighborhood and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Back when the museum was in the Civic Center, above the Herbst Theater, she volunteered as a docent. In 2000, once the museum was ensconced in its own building south of Market, she was asked to set up a private tour program and hire the guides.

Now she’s one of 15 private guides on staff, each week leading paying groups that select the focus of their tour — whether paintings and sculpture, photography, architecture or, between now and October 9, the just-opened exhibition Edvard Munch: Between the Clock and the Bed, featuring 44 paintings by Norway’s most famous artist.

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