Noe Valley Voice October 2009

Short Takes

October 2009

Catch the Next Trolley Dance

For the first time in its six-year history, the modern dance festival San Francisco Trolley Dances will roll through Noe Valley, treating riders and onlookers to dance performances along the J-Church line the weekend of Oct. 16 and 17.

Show curator Kim Epifano of Epiphany Productions has clustered seven performances in Dolores and Balboa parks, and the tour will also include a "drive-by" performance in Noe Valley at 30th and Church streets. Anyone can watch the dances from the sidewalk or join the trolley car as it progresses, but to get the full flavor of the festival you should sign up for the entire ride at the Miguel Hidalgo statue near the pedestrian bridge in Dolores Park.

The guided tours, which are $2 (or free with a Muni Fast Pass), leave the statue in the park every 45 minutes starting at 11 a.m., and take 90 minutes to complete. About 70 people can be accommodated on each tour.

Guides will lead their audiences to the mostl y outdoor performances, staged by five different ensembles. The dance companies have been asked to choreograph works inspired by the look or history of particular sites along the J-line.

This year, the Epiphany dance group will be joined by the Deborah Slater Dance Theater, fusion company Deep Waters Dance Theater, improviser and choreographer Kathleen Hermesdorf, and the 50-year-old San Francisco Merionettes synchronized swimming club at Balboa Pool.

"Every year, I find this San Francisco historic gem, and the Merionettes is one of them," says Epifano.

In years past, Trolley Dances has traveled the F, T, and N lines. The flow of the performances is helped by the guides, who talk about the history of the sites, Muni's train system, and the performers themselves during lulls between dances.

Because the performances are public, plenty of people not usually exposed to dance get to enjoy them, Epifano says.

"You get families to seniors and everybody in between."

Kids will enjoy their own set of t ours on the Friday before the festival weekend. "They have a blast," she says.

Tours are on a first-come, first-served basis, and spots fill quickly, Epifano says. For wheelchair accessibility, please arrive for the 11 a.m. tour. The last tour leaves Dolores Park, at 19th and Church streets, at 2:45 p.m.

For more information, visit or call 415-226-1139.

--Heather World

Bowser Bash at Upper Douglass Park

If your pooch is planning to dress up for Halloween this year, a chance to get extra mileage out of that costume comes in the form of the neighborhood's third annual Dogtoberfest celebration, taking place on Saturday, Oct. 24, at Upper Douglass Park.

Organized by the Friends of Upper Douglass Dog Park, the free party for Noe Valley dogs and their two-legged friends will include contests for best costume, pet obedience, tricks, and agility.

Along with costumed canines and envy-inducing dog tricks performed by Noe Valley's finest on four legs, the event plays host to nonprofit organizations such as the San Francisco SPCA and the Animal Rescue Foundation, whose members will offer information about programs and services. Attendees will also find treats for both dogs and humans on sale at the event, as well as the services of a pet portrait photographer.

Dogtoberfest will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. For the complete scoop, visit the Friends of Upper Douglass Dog Park online at The three-acre park is located at the corner of Douglass and 27th streets.

--Lorraine Sanders

Rhapsody Times Two

Lovers of classical music are in for a treat this month as two chamber music series kick off their seasons with renowned artists, intimate venues, and affordable prices.

It's the 17th season for the popular Noe Valley Chamber Music series, which opens Sunday, Oct. 25, with a concert by the Gold Coast Chamber Players, starring violinist Robin Sharp, concertmaster of the San Francisco Chambe r Orchestra.

The group's 4 p.m. performance will feature Two Rhapsodies for oboe, viola, and piano by Charles Loeffler; Frank Bridge's Phantasy Quartet in F sharp for piano, violin, viola, and cello; Ralph Vaughn Williams' Phantasy Quintet for two violins, two violas, and cello; and Arnold Bax's Quintet for oboe and strings.

The nonprofit Noe Valley Chamber Music launched the series in 1992 to both demystify the classical music experience and showcase established and new local artists. NVCM's Sunday afternoon concerts run monthly through May (except in January) and are held at the Noe Valley Ministry, 1021 Sanchez Street. The Nov. 8 performance will feature the Picasso String Quartet, performing works by Ravel, David Garner, and Mendelssohn.

Tickets range from $15 for seniors and students to $18 for general admission. For information about future concerts, call 415-648-5236 or visit

To get an even earlier start on the classical music scene, you might want to attend an Oct. 18 "Music on the Hill" concert in Diamond Heights. After 10 seasons at St. Kevin's Church in Bernal Heights, Music on the Hill this year relocated its chamber music series to St. Aidan's Church, at the corner of Goldmine Drive and Diamond Heights Boulevard.

The music series' first concert of the season, starting at 7 p.m., will feature the Ariel Ensemble, composed of members of the San Francisco Ballet and Opera orchestras. They will perform Brahms' Clarinet Quintet, a string quartet by Debussy, and the Cello Suite No. 1 by Johann Sebastian Bach. Guest dancer Crystal Lee will join the ensemble for works by Piazzolla and Shostakovich. Astage set has been designed by local artist Kurt Stoeckel.

Tickets are $8 for students and seniors and $14 general admission.

For more information about Music on the Hill, call 415-820-1429 or visit

--Corrie M. Anders

Cupcake Tasting for Couples

Cupcakes are the latest wedding craze, and Cooks Boulevard is inviting betrothed couples to taste creative confections from local bakers at "A Cupcake Affair" on Sunday, Nov. 1, at 6:30 p.m.

Bakers from That Takes the Cake, Sweetie Cups, Sugar Beats Sweets, Cups and Cake, Noe Valley Bakery, and Citizen Cake will bring varieties worthy of a wedding, topped with buttercream, ganache, and glaze.

"We want to help those looking for cupcakes find those who make cupcakes," says Sara Eddison, event coordinator and store manager.

The tasting will be at the store at 1309 Castro Street near 24th Street, and Eddison hopes couples will register there for kitchen wares, too. Though small, Cooks Boulevard offers the same online registry that chain stores do, Eddison says.

Interested lovebirds are asked to RSVP to the store's website,

Meanwhile, Cooks Boulevard is continuing as a drop-off spot for San Francisco Food Bank donations and a pickup location for produce boxes from local farms. Customers c an now choose from Frog Hollow, Tomatero Farms, Two Small Farms, and Eating with the Seasons, Eddison reports.

To find out the details, call the store at 415-647-2665.

--Heather World

Behind the Doors of Local Artists

Noe Valley artist Lita Blanc hasn't achieved the notoriety of say, Albrecht Durer, the Renaissance engraver whose work figures prominently in Dan Brown's new novel The Lost Symbol. But Blanc's etchings will be on full display this month as part of the 34th annual San Francisco Open Studios. So will the paintings and sketchbooks of artist Marie Kelzer, who also lives in Noe Valley.

The two artists will join more than 50 painters, weavers, sculptors, and jewelry makers in the 94114 and 94131 zip codes who will open their homes, garages, and studios to the public during the weekend of Oct. 10-11. The weekend also will showcase talent in the Castro, Glen Park, Duboce Triangle, Bernal Heights, the Mission, and Portola neighborhoods.

The event kicks off four consecutive weekends of Open Studios, which is sponsored by the nonprofit ArtSpan and expected to attract 60,000 art lovers.

Blanc has taken part in previous Open Studios. A teacher at George Moscone Elementary School who got started in printmaking 10 years ago, Blanc will show two different series of works in her home studio at 4089 25th Street.

One group features aquatints engraved on zinc plates, whose designs are based on the games at Musée Mécanique at Fisherman's Wharf. Among the realistic portrayals of old-time fun machines is an etching of the zany "Laffing Sal."

"Musée Mécanique has been one of my favorite places in the city and one of the places my kids like," says Blanc, who's lived in Noe Valley for 25 years. "They're haunted by Laffing Sal."

The second set includes colorful monoprints that depict scenes of Provence, France.

Blanc's works are considerably more affordable than Durer's. Her pieces range from $15 to around $200, she says.

Marie Kelzer invites you to see her 28th Street studio, which is chock full with a couple hundred paintings, bookbindings, and artist's books. Her New Age abstract paintings depict everything from "peace of mind" to "light in the age of darkness."

Kelzer, a seasoned artist of 25 years, says her works are priced from $5 for small notebooks to $400 for larger pieces. Her Marie Kelzer Design Studio is located at 238A 28th Street, and will be open both days 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information visit And for a map of all Open Studios locations, go to

Art patrons will also have two opportunities this month to view the works of 24th Street artist Marc Ellen Hamel. Fourteen of her abstract oil paintings are on display through Oct. 25 in the back gallery at Nomad Rugs, 3775 24th Street near Church.

Nomad Rugs owner Chris Wahlgren says he was excited to offer the space. "I can't help to think how much Marc Ellen's work reminds me of some of the col orful Gabbeh rugs in the store."

The doors of Hamel's Hunters Point Shipyard studio will be open during Open Studios' fourth weekend of Oct. 31-Nov. 1. That's where the full-time artist says she will display more than 20 pieces of her works, with prices ranging from $250 for smaller canvasses to $3,000 or so for larger productions.

Her shipyard studio is located at Building 101, #2507. You can get more information at

--Corrie M. Anders

Rupa Fishing in Health Care

Many would likely agree with the notion that regular doses of live music are good for the soul, but what about your health? In the case of this month's ¡Catapulta! performance at the Brava Theater, live music promises some very real health benefits indeed.

Created by Noe Valley resident, singer, and physician Rupa Marya, of Rupa & the April Fishes fame, the multimedia arts project brings original music, performance, photography, and sculpture to the stage to raise awareness about the human impact of U.S. anti-immigration policies and to highlight the health options available to documented and undocumented San Francisco residents.

Funded by a grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission, the event grew out of Rupa's ongoing work with undocumented populations in the Bay Area and those living along the U.S.-Mexico border. This spring, Rupa & the April Fishes band members Marcus Cohen (trumpet), Isabel Douglass (accordion), Aaron Kierbel (drums), and Safa Shokrai (upright bass) traveled, along with photographer Lars Howlett, from Tijuana to Texas, documenting the lives they encountered and gathering research for this performance project.

The result is a one-hour showcase of new music by Rupa & the April Fishes and photographs of the band's journey, along with performances by Pan-American circus group Malamana, choreography by Sara Shelton Mann, and sculpture by Carlos Cartagena.

In keeping with its social mission, the event will give away 50 free tickets per night to undocumented people. The concert also will provide health outreach by offering an information table staffed by a physician and an immigration lawyer, ready to answer questions about access to health care in San Francisco.

¡Catapulta! takes place Oct. 9 and 10 at the Brava Theater, 2781 24th St. Tickets ($15) are available at the Brava Theater Box Office (415-641-7657) and online at

--Lorraine Sanders

Perfect Halloween Reading

Considering that October is one of the scariest months of the year, author Doug Dorst seems like a wise addition to the lineup of writers at the Make-Out Room in the Mission District.

Dorst will read from his novel Alive in Necropolis, which the San Francisco Public Library has picked as its One City One Book selection for 2009. (Residents all over the city will be reading the book this month.)

The book features a young police officer living in nearby Colma, who st ruggles to keep the peace and maintain his sanity in a town where there are more corpses than sentient beings.

Four other hot writers will join Dorst for the Oct. 10 reading at the Make-Out Room, a bar-club at 3225 22nd Street near Bartlett Street. They include Anthony Swofford, author of Jarhead; Roz Savagem, Rowing the Atlantic; Linda Watanabe McFerrin, The Impossibility of Redemption Is Something We Hadn't Figured On; and Joe Loya, The Man Who Outgrew His Prison Cell.

The organization Writers with Drinks is sponsoring the 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. event. Admission is $3 to $5 with all proceeds to benefit the nonprofit Center for Sex and Culture.

If Dorst's nocturnal reading leaves you gasping for more, you can join him on a free tour of Colma's Holy Cross Cemetery, 1500 Mission Blvd. The San Francisco History Association is sponsoring the tour, which starts at 11 a.m. You can get more information about these events at,, and

--Corrie M. Anders

Small Gems from Golden Gate

The group Golden Gate Artists will hold its 10th annual art show at the Noe Valley Ministry during the month of November.

The show, "Small Gems," will feature smaller works of art and will open with a free reception for the public on Saturday, Nov. 7, from 2 to 4 p.m. There will be wine and cheese and other light refreshments, accompanied by cello music by Pawel Walerowski.

The original members of Golden Gate Artists first came together in 1996 in art classes at City College and Sharon Art Studio. "Inspired by one another's art, we met outside of class to draw and sketch each week 'en plein air' [outdoors]," says artist JoAnn Yates.

The group continues to meet every Monday in the Arboretum, the Presidio, Lake Merced, Fort Mason Garden, and other city spots, occasionally venturing to Marin, Sonoma, or Monterey.

Members share information on art exhibitions, materials, books, and l unch. "It is as much learning about painting as about life," says Yates. Newcomers are welcome to join. For information, e-mail

The Ministry is located at 1021 Sanchez Street near 23rd. Paintings will be displayed in the church sanctuary during open hours. Call 415-282-2317 for details.