Noe Valley Voice November 2010


By Heather World

Sitting Pretty for Julia Rice

Artist Julia Rice came to San Francisco in search of beauty and found it at the 30th Street Senior Center. What she learned, “Out of the Box: Women, Beauty & Aging,” will be exhibited at the center Friday, Nov. 19, from 2 to 5 p.m.

Rice, who is in San Francisco thanks to an artist-in-residence program at CELLspace art studio in Dogpatch, interviewed women at 30th Street and at the Martin Luther Tower apartment complex on Franklin Street. She has also collected interviews through a blog she created for the project.

“I’ve spoken with women who grew up in Mexico, Nicaragua, and other countries in Latin America,” said Rice, who lives in Spain and is bilingual. “I’ve spoken to women who’ve been actresses, painters, civil rights activists—it’s been a very rich experience.”

Julia Rice PaintingShe then painted the women on disposable surfaces, like boxes and mailing envelopes—thinking outside the box in terms of subject and materials, she said. The exhibit will include the paintings of her subjects, excerpted texts of their own words, and some examples of what they find beautiful about themselves. One actress featured in the exhibit will perform a 15-minute excerpt of the one-woman play she is writing.

Rice, 34, has an MFA from Utrecht University in the Netherlands and has focused her work on the exploitation of women through advertising. For her thesis she looked at how perceptions of beauty change for women as they grow older.

Perceptions change with time and with culture, she found. The women from Martin Luther Tower tended to be Anglo-American. More often than not, she found they tended to judge themselves as vain in their youth and now find beauty to be something internal.

“With some of the Hispanic women, it’s almost the opposite,” Rice said. They enjoy taking the time to dress up and wear makeup and jewelry, she said.

Rice has invited a musician to play while the women and the public peruse the exhibit and eat finger food.

The 30th Street Senior Center is located at 225 30th Street, between Church and Dolores streets. Rice’s exhibit will also be shown at CELLspace, 2050 Bryant Street, on Thursday, Nov. 18, 7 to 10 p.m.


Eat, Write, Love

Want to be creative with your calories? Celia Sack, owner of Noe Valley’s Omnivore Books on Food, will host “The Art of Food Writing,” featuring Amanda Hesser, the former food editor of the New York Times, Sunday, Nov. 7, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Women’s Building, 3543 18th Street.

Hesser will talk about turning a love of food into a love of writing about food. At the same time, Sack and Daniel Patterson, executive chef and owner of San Francisco’s celebrated restaurant Coi, will prepare a tasting plate of three dishes from Hesser’s newest cookbook, The Essential New York Times Cookbook.

Ticket price includes food and is $100 for the class, or $140 for the class and the cookbook. All proceeds directly benefit the free student programming at 826 Valencia, a creative arts workshop and tutoring hub for San Francisco children. 826 volunteers pay only $50, or $90 for the class and the cookbook.

For more information, visit www and click on the events calendar, or call 415-642-5905.


Fix for Political Junkies

You can relive the Nov. 2 election Wednesday, Nov. 17, when the Noe Valley Democratic Club sponsors a recap hosted by Democratic pollster David Binder, a political analyst with 20 years of experience.

A familiar face at election-time meetings of the club, Binder is the head of a national polling firm in San Francisco and has appeared as a public opinion and political analyst for the CBS Evening News, the News Hour with Jim Lehrer, and California This Week. He also has been a frequent commentator on local TV and radio broadcasts. His clients include political, government, labor, healthcare, and nonprofit organizations, as well as business and marketing firms. He also often serves as an independent monitor of election trends and returns.

He and his staff will offer an in-depth analysis of the voting for club members and guests.

The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m., and is open to the public. St. Philip’s is located at 725 Diamond Street, between Elizabeth and 24th streets.


Good Odds in November

The Odd Mondays series this month features exceptional authors, including Mir Tamim Ansary, a San Francisco-based Afghan-American who wrote a memoir of growing up in Afghanistan that received critical acclaim and countered negative perceptions of the country following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

West of Kabul, East of New York may be Ansary’s best known book—the San Francisco Public Library chose it as a One City, One Book pick in 2008—but he has also written a book of history “through Islamic eyes,” a work of fiction, and a number of educational books for children.

Ansary lived in Afghanistan until attending high school in the United States and then Reed College in Portland, Oregon. He moderates the San Francisco Writers Workshop, a 46-year-old free bou­tique for aspiring writers, and has taught at U.C. Berkeley and San Francisco State University, among other institutions.

He will read and discuss his work on the last odd Monday, Nov. 29.

On Monday, Nov. 15, Leonard Pitt will present his new book, Paris: A Journey Through Time. Pitt, a mime who studied the craft in Paris in the 1960s, has a wide-ranging career in the arts: he opened a school of physical theater in Berkeley, studied mask theater and carving in Bali, and started Eco-Rap, an environmental education program combining ecology and rap music to educate inner city youth about urgent social issues. He is the author of A Small Moment of Great Illumination, about the 17th-century Anglo-Irish healer Valentine Greatrakes. He has written two previous books about Paris as well. His books will be on display and for sale.

Earlier in the month (on Nov. 1, just before the Voice went to press), Louise Nayer appeared to discuss her latest book, Burned: A Memoir, which recounts a devastating accidental gas explosion that badly burned her parents. Nayer is also well known for her book How to Bury a Goldfish: Celebrations and Ceremonies for Everyday Life.

All Odd Mondays take place at the Noe Valley Ministry, 1021 Sanchez Street, and start at 7:30 p.m. Guests are invited to a “no-host” dinner at Haystack Pizza, 3881 24th Street, at 6 p.m., but please RSVP to if you want to join the dinner.


Tutors Needed at Alvarado

You can help out a student at Alvarado Elementary by volunteering with Reading Partners, an educational nonprofit that runs a tutoring program at the school.

“As you watch students’ skills grow, you see their confidence grow too,” says Glennis Coursey, Reading Partners’ site coordinator at Alvarado, 625 Douglass Street. “That’s a powerful thing to see.”

The 10-year-old program uses a curriculum designed by the Stanford School of Education, and 88 percent of students advance an entire grade level after 25 hours of tutoring, says Beej Shah, program manager for San Francisco Reading Partners.

“The kids really benefit from the one-on-one attention and the mentor relationship,” she says.

Some students learn letter sounds; others work on reading comprehension.

Currently, Coursey manages 20 tutors for 18 students, but she hopes to find enough volunteers to support the total of 35 students who need help. Though the minimum commitment is for one hour a week, two hours is preferable.

“We tutor our students twice a week for 45 minutes, and we love for the students to see the same tutor,” Shah says.

Volunteers take a 20-minute orientation online, then head to the school’s reading center to learn how the program works, she says. Tutoring at Alvarado takes place from 2 to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and Shah says she hopes to find volunteers who can commit through May. To volunteer, email


Be an Elf for a Day

Mission Police Station has put out an all-points bulletin seeking donations for its annual holiday toy drive, “Mission: TOYS.”

Donors are asked to bring unwrapped new toys and/or cash to Circle Bank, 3938 24th Street, or to Mission Station, 630 Valencia Street. Cash contributions are tax-deductible.

Permit Officer Hope Nechuta says the station has handed out $10,000 worth of toys in past years, and every penny is needed to meet demand.

“Usually, there’s a line that goes from the lobby all the way down 18th Street and turning the corner—even in the rain,” she says.

This year, Santa will be enthroned in the station lobby on Saturday, Dec. 11, readying himself for children eager for a picture in his lap and presents from his bag. The stuffed animals, dolls, balls, race cars, and other toys are divided by sex and age group and put into bags for the kids, Nechuta says.

“In the past, we were able to give each child four or five presents,” she says.

The most generous contributors will be acknowledged at the well-publicized giveaway, and the top five contributors will be offered a lunch with Capt. Gregory Corrales, Nechuta says.


Mi easel es su easel

Golden Gate Artists return to the Noe Valley Ministry for “A Brush with Color,” an 11-woman show of watercolor paintings running Nov. 1 to Dec. 13, with an opening reception on Saturday, Nov. 13, from 2 to 4 p.m.

This is the group’s fifth year of exhibiting at the Ministry, and the reception has always been wonderful, says Elaine Robinson, one of the artists.

“We’ve always had well over 100 people, and almost all of us have sold at least one painting, which is an extra bonus. We like just having it up!”

The women not only show together, they also have painted together weekly for the 10 years since meeting at Golden Gate Park’s Sharon Art Studio, Robinson says. The group usually heads outdoors to set up their easels, traveling to Fort Mason’s community garden or the Arboretum or the Japanese Tea Garden in the park.

“We ask for each other’s advice,” Robinson says. “Someone will ask, ‘Tell me what I still need to do to this painting?’”

There are 16 painters in the group over­all, some who work, some who are retired, and they live across the city, she says. Though none now lives in Noe Valley, all have found the Ministry to be welcoming.

“It’s such a nice atmosphere,” she says. “It’s wonderful to be part of the community.”

Robinson will be joined by Peggy Cadbury, Lana Choy, Charlotte Karp, Chalinee Lomuto, Marci Mills, Thelma Murakami, Mary Reid, Frieda Sion, Mary Watson, and JoAnn Yates.