Monthly Archives: November 2016

La Reyna Panaderia

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I like the old-school style of this sign. I wonder if the lights are turned on at night.

When I was in San Francisco, I spent a lot of time walking around in the Mission District. The Mission is a vibrant, bustling neighborhood with great opportunities for watching people . I enjoyed getting a glimpse of folks living their lives in a metropolis. Being in the Mission made me remember how it feels to love a city.

In addition to people watching, I looked at the murals that are all over the Mission.  My Computer Guy says the Mission has been known for its mural since the 1970s, and and the SF Tourism Tips website (http://www.sftourismtips.com/mission-district-murals.html) backs him up. In previous trips to the Mission, I did see murals, but during my recent visit, I saw so many murals I had never seen before. Maybe I hadn’t been looking in the right places during previous visits. Maybe there really are more murals now. In any case, I spent much of my visit walking around the neighborhood, finding and admiring and photographing outdoor murals.

img_7158I spent an entire afternoon walking around 24th Street, ducking into alleys to take photos of the amazing murals located throughout this neighborhood. From across 24th Street, I saw La Reyna Panaderia and decided I would pay it a visit after lunch.

“Panaderia” is the Spanish word for bakery, and there was a wide selection of sweet treats available at La Reyna. I don’t know much about the pastries of the Latino world, but everything on display looked really delicious. I wanted to try everything!

I tried to joke about wanting to try everything to the woman working behind the counter, but she wasn’t having it. I don’t know if she was having a bad day or if she was just tired or if her English comprehension was limited and she didn’t understand my banter, but she didn’t seem amused by me in the least.

So this is how it works: Customers get a tray and a set of long tongs from the counter and serve themselves from the cases filled with a variety of pastries. Only a few of the pastries were labeled, so I didn’t really know what most of the varieties were. In theory, I guess I could have asked the woman working, but she did not act as if she wanted to be bothered by me. So I picked a big, soft-looking cookie that was obviously chocolate and another that  was sprinkled heavily with toasted coconut and had a red circle that looked like jelly in the middle. There was no indication of the price of anything, but my two cookies ended up costing $1.30. img_7159

While La Reyna’s sign does say “coffee shop,” I didn’t see or smell any coffee brewing. Maybe the lady behind the counter whips something up after an order is placed. I wasn’t interested in coffee, so I didn’t really look for it.

La Reyna also seemed not much like a coffee shop because there are no tables or chairs, either inside or out. It’s not a hangout kind of place. One goes in, buys one’s pastries and leaves. This is a great place for folks who like Mexican pastries, but it’s strictly a “to-go” situation.

Like many other buildings in the area, the one that houses La Reyna has murals painted on the side of it, including one of the Virgin Mary. La Reyna (also spelled “La Reina”) is the Spanish term for “The Queen.” The Queen in question might be the Virgin Mary (you know, as in “the Queen of Heaven”) which could explain why she’s painted on the side of the outside wall. However, The Queen might refer to someone else, and the Virgin Mary’s on the side of the building because she’s a popular art motif in the Latinx world.

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The words “La Reyna” written under this mural of the Virgin Mary on the side of the building housing La Reyna Panaderia indicate my idea that the bakery is names after the Queen of Heaven is correct.

My two cookies were big, and I savored them over the course of the next couple of hours. I ate a few nibbles while leaning against a tree outside of the bakery, listening to cops question a man sitting at a bus stop. I ate a few more nibbles while sitting at a bus stop bench on Mission Street and watching city people live their lives. Both cookies were delicious, flaky and crumbly.

La Reyna Panaderia is located at 3114 24th Street in San Francisco, CA.

I took all of the photos in this post.

Peace Collage

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My friend’s birthday was approaching, and I wanted to make something special for her. I sent her a hat a while back, and now she lives in the desert, so she didn’t really need another one or an infinity scarf either. I made a hemp necklace for one of her pendants two visits ago, and I didn’t know if she would like any of the necklaces I already had made. And oh, yeah, I’d traded her some bracelets for a copy of her zine a couple of years ago. She probably didn’t need any more bracelets. My last option was a collage. Yes, yes, a collage!

I wanted to make a collage with an inspiring quote on it. My friend is a peace activist, so when I found a good quote about peace from Jimi Hendrix, I decided to build the gift around his words.

lauramarie-collage

My friend took this photo of the collage I made for her. I forgot to take a photo of it before I put it in the mail.

Since I love my friend, I used many hearts in the piece. I hope this work of art conveys to her how much she means to me.

Happy birthday, my friend, happy birthday to you.

Maggie Kuhn

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In the third post about the Play Me, I’m Yours piano installation in Mesa, AZ, I mentioned one of the reasons for writing given on the piano presented by Phonetic Spit was this: I write to speak my mind, even when my voice shakes.

I knew I’d seen some variation of the quote before, but who’d said it? Audre Lorde? Alice Walker? I did a Google search and found Maggie Kuhn was the woman who gave us those words.

Who’s Maggie Kuhn? I didn’t know either, until I did a little reading up on her.

According to http://womenshistory.about.com/cs/quotes/a/maggie_kuhn.htm,

Maggie Kuhn is best known for founding the organization often called the Gray Panthers [officially known at first as the Consultation of Older and Younger Adults for Social Change], a social activist organization raising issues of justice and fairness for older Americans. She is credited with the passage of laws prohibiting forced retirement and with reform in health care and nursing home oversight.

The Wikipedia article about Kuhn (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maggie_Kuhn) tells more about the work she and the Gray Panthers did.

In 1970, although [Kuhn] was working at a job she loved with the Presbyterian Church, she was forced to retire the day she turned 65 because of the mandatory retirement law then in effect. That year, she banded together with other retirees and formed the Gray Panthers movement. Seeing all issues of injustice as inevitably linked, they refused to restrict themselves to elder rights activism, but focused also on peace, presidential elections, poverty, and civil liberties. Their first big issue was opposition to the Vietnam War.

The Gray Panthers’ motto was “Age and Youth In Action,” and many of its members were high school and college students. Kuhn believed that teens should be taken more seriously and given more responsibility by society.

Kuhn raised controversy by openly discussing the sexuality of older people, and shocked the public with her assertion that older women, who outlive men by an average of 8 years, could develop sexual relationships with younger men or each other.

I couldn’t find any information about when or where Kuhn said or wrote her famous words advising us to speak our minds, but I did find the longer quote of which these words are part. The Presbyterian Historical Society (http://www.history.pcusa.org/blog/maggie-kuhn-womens-history-month) gives the longer quote as

Leave safety behind. Put your body on the line. Stand before the people you fear and speak your mind–even if your voice shakes. When you least expect it, someone may actually listen to what you have to say. Well-aimed slingshots can topple giants.

I suspect Maggie Kuhn would be quite pleased to know young people remembered her sentiment and wrote it on a piano in an Arizona town for all to see.

 

Play Me, I’m Yours (Part 3)

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The last Play Me, I’m Yours piano I discovered was my favorite because it had a writing theme! This black and white piano, located at the Arizona Museum of Natural History, was decorated with flowers and the reasons why people write.  Some reasons people gave for writing:

I write to right my wrongs. img_5874

I write because the pen is my weapon.

I write to say, “I was here.”

I write because my ancestors weren’t allowed to.

I write to honor my second chances.

I write to relieve myself from pain.

I write to speak my mind, even when my voice shakes.

While researching this post, I discovered the community group responsible for this piano was Phonetic Spit. According to their website (http://phoneticspit.org/about-us/founders-artists/),

Through the intersections of Literary Arts, Youth Development, and Social Justice programs, Phonetic Spit creates Brave Space to empower young and emerging adults to find, develop and publicly present their voices as agents of societal change.

img_5873I can understand how a group of young people interested in the literary arts, publicly presenting their voices, and societal change would use this opportunity to tell the world why writing is important to each of them.

According to the Street Pianos webpage (http://streetpianos.com/mesa2016/pianos/4-arizona-museum-of-natural-history/) dedicated to this piano (#4), the artist who did the work on it was Tomas Stanton. A Phoenix New Times article (“100 Creatives” http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/arts/8-tomas-stanton-6551318 ) from 2012 called Tomas Stanton

a poet, writer, teaching artist, and community activist. He says he’s a self-taught artist dedicated to advancing the art of spoken word through fusion with theatre and dance.

Stanton is co-founder of Phoenix’s premiere youth spoken word ensemble, Phonetic img_5870Spit. He uses hip-hop pedagogy to inspire youth to boldly express themselves through poetry, dance, theatre, and graffiti. His work and teaching style is rooted in his childhood experiences of poverty and single parent household, political issues, identity, and love.

This piano’s Street Pianos webpage also says it was donated by the First United Methodist Church of Mesa and was sponsored by Two Men And A Truck.

My favorite words on this piano read, “Your Voice Matters.” This message is important to everyone who may feel silenced in the current political climate. Every voice matters. Some will say the only voices that matter come from the throats of the rich or the males or the people with light skin. This is not the true.  The truth is every voice matters. My voice matters and your voice matters. Let’s all speak our minds, even when our voices shake.

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I took all of the photos in this post.

If you missed the other posts about the Play Me, I’m Yours pianos, here’s a brief summary from http://www.streetpianos.com/:

Touring internationally since 2008, Play Me, I’m Yours is an artwork by British artist Luke Jerram. Reaching over 10 million people worldwide – more than 1,500 street pianos have already been installed in over 50 cities across the globe, from London to New York, bearing the simple instruction Play Me, I’m Yours.

Located on streets, in public parks, markets and train stations the pianos are temporarily available for everyone to play and enjoy. Play Me, I’m Yours invites the public to engage with, activate and take ownership of their urban environment. Decorated by local artists and community groups, the pianos create a place of exchange and an opportunity for people to connect.

 

 

Play Me, I’m Yours (Part 2)

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The second Play Me, I’m Yours piano I encountered during my evening stroll along Main Street in Mesa, AZ was in front of the Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum. This one was looked like a cloudy blue sky, and the sides shimmered in the late afternoon sun.

If you missed previous posts, http://www.streetpianos.com/ says,

Touring internationally since 2008, Play Me, I’m Yours is an artwork by British artist Luke Jerram. Reaching over 10 million people worldwide – more than 1,500 street pianos have already been installed in over 50 cities across the globe…

Sparkling side view of piano #11

Sparkling side view of piano #11

According to his website (http://www.lukejerram.com/about/),

Luke Jerram’s multidisciplinary practice involves the creation of sculptures, installations and live arts projects. Living in the UK but working internationally for 19 years, Jerram has created a number of extraordinary art projects which have excited and inspired people around the globe.

Jerram has a set of different narratives that make up his practice which are developing in parallel with one another. He is known worldwide for his large scale public artworks.

The Street Pianos webpage (http://streetpianos.com/mesa2016/pianos/11-mesa-contemp-arts-museum/) dedicated to this piano (#11) says it was decorated by artists Kyllan Maney and Erin Peters and the Creative Catalyst team. It was donated by Mesa Arts Center and sponsored by Advanced Eyecare of Arizona.

Back view of piano #11

Back view of piano #11

What I didn’t know until I looked at the aforementioned webpage dedicated to this particular piano is that it was lit up at night. How cool is that! (Very cool, I think. I wish I had seen it all lit up.) The area behind the panel that reads “Play Me, I’m Yours” apparently glowed electric lavender, and a bright blue light shone from underneath.

The white and blue color scheme reminded me of clouds in a blue sky. I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the serene sky imagery and the gliding birds next to the shimmery shake of the sparkles on the sides. (Are the shimmers meant to represent the stars in the night sky?)

Again, I wished I could play this piano, but I made myself content with simply striking a few keys and and enjoying the art.

I took all of the photos in this post.

Bird detail from piano #11

Bird detail from piano #11

Play Me, I’m Yours (Part 1)

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In the spring of 2016, I was exploring the public art on Main Street in Mesa, Arizona. One of the coolest things I saw was a Pepto-Bismol pink piano labeled “Play Me, I’m Yours.” What was this about? I had no idea, but loved the presence of a piano out on the street available for anyone to play. As I walked further east on Main Street, I encountered two more street pianos. Very interesting, I thought. I figured the pianos were part of downtown Mesa’s permanent sculpture collection and didn’t think much more about them until I sat down to write this post.

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Front view of piano #6

According to the Street Pianos website (http://www.streetpianos.com/),

Touring internationally since 2008, Play Me, I’m Yours is an artwork by British artist Luke Jerram. Reaching over 10 million people worldwide – more than 1,500 street pianos have already been installed in over 50 cities across the globe, from London to New York, bearing the simple instruction Play Me, I’m Yours.

Located on streets, in public parks, markets and train stations the pianos are temporarily available for everyone to play and enjoy. Play Me, I’m Yours invites the public to engage with, activate and take ownership of their urban environment. Decorated by local artists and community groups, the pianos create a place of exchange and an opportunity for people to connect.

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Back view of piano #6

It’s really cool to find out the pianos I encountered are part of a global phenomenon. But wait, it gets better!

The page of the Street Pianos website dedicated to Mesa (http://streetpianos.com/mesa2016/) says,

Mesa Arts Center presented Play Me, I’m Yours, from March 1 until April 9 2016, as part of the celebrations of a major milestone: 10 years at their beautiful location in Downtown Mesa, AZ.  24 playable and artistically enhanced pianos were featured, in Downtown Mesa and at other satellite locations throughout the city.

What? Those pianos were there for a limited time only, and I got to see them? How cool is that? (Very cool, I think.)

I’m going to do three blog posts about the three Play Me, I’m Yours piano I encountered in Mesa.

Today I am writing about piano #6, which was located on Main Street, east of MacDonald. According to the Street Pianos website (http://streetpianos.com/mesa2016/pianos/6-main-street-east-of-macdonald/, where you can also view videos of people playing this piano),it was decorated by artist: Kyllan Maney  and students of the New School For The Arts and was donated by Myrna Horton.

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Left side view of piano #6

According to Kyllan Maney’s website (http://www.kyllanmaney.com/about/), she

works with aspects of nature that reminds her of the feelings of tranquility, discovery, spirituality and awe that exist when looking at plants and objects closely.  The visual foundation of Kyllan’s work is rooted in scientific illustrations, religious icons, human relationships and inspiration from past and current artists. Kyllan enjoys the inventive, creative process of working with mixed media, oil painting and large scale murals.

There’s so much I like about this piano. I think its bright, eye-catching color is grand. I like the individual portraits decorating it. As I said before, I think it is so cool to see pianos out and about, available for anyone to play.

Unfortunately, I don’t know how to play the piano. Music lessons were not something my parents

Right side view of piano #6

Right side view of piano #6

could afford when I was a kid, and by the time I took a piano class in high school, it was too late. I realized I basically have no musical talent, and it was going to take way more effort than I was willing to exert to learn to play the piano (or anything else).

That evening in Mesa, I was sad I couldn’t sit down and coax a song from this instrument, but I was glad to know it was out there waiting for someone more talented than I .

I took all the photos in this post.

To read more about public art in Mesa, go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/10/07/the-big-pink-chair/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/10/15/booked-for-the-day/, and here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/11/14/quackers/.

Detail from piano #6 for all my Bowie homies.

Detail from piano #6

So Proud!

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My apologies for two posts in one day, but my book Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods is now live and available for purchase in the Kindle Store. I couldn’t be prouder!

Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods
Click on the image of the book’s cover to go to Amazon to find out more or to purchase. (If you shop on Amazon using this or any other of my other other affiliate links, I receive an advertising fee.)

If electronic books aren’t your style, don’t worry! The paper version will be available soon.

Thanks to everyone who’s helped make this book happen…