Christo's Central Park installation of 7,500 gates draped in saffron fabric makes us think of environmental performance artist and Santa Cruz native Jim Denevan, who's been baffling beachgoers with his large-scale sand drawings since 1998. Denevan creates his temporary pieces on Pacific beaches from his hometown to the Golden Gate Bridge, eerily perfect geometric shapes that he designs using driftwood, garden rakes, and even human bodies as tools. These masterpieces embellish the earth until the tide comes in, washing the images away. In concert with his ongoing exhibit at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Denevan employs the Sutro Baths as his latest canvas. Watch today's live drawing at 11 a.m. at Ocean Beach, Great Highway & Fulton, S.F. Viewing is free; visit www.jimdenevan.com.
-- Jane Tunks
Merrily We Row Along
Longing for some time on the water? You could rent a rowboat for a lazy Golden Gate Park putter -- but if you want a taste of boat racing's true intensity, the closest you can come without joining a team is the Bay Area Dragons' Free Dragon Boat Rides. Each Saturday squad members allow guests to try their hand at paddling in a 44-foot-long canoe adorned with a carved and painted dragon figurehead and up to 22 rowers. Grab an oar at 10:30 a.m. at Boat Park, 1000 Bounty (at Shell), Foster City. Participation is free; visit www.bayareadragons.org.
-- Joyce Slaton
Mother Nature's curatives
Aspirin was originally derived from willow bark. The digitalis that saves heart patients' lives comes from the flowering foxglove. Plants are a vital source of medicinal compounds; in fact, one of the best reasons for halting our destruction of rain forests and other green environments is that we haven't made use of even a fraction of the goodies to be found therein. Trace the connections between horticulture and health with "Nature's Pharmacy: The Healing Power of Plants," a new exhibit of living specimens of therapeutic flora from Africa, Asia, and the Americas along with installations that explain how roots, shoots, and leaves are transformed into remedies. The show's up through Oct. 16 at the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, 100 JFK (at Stanyan), S.F. Admission is free-$5; call 666-7001 or visit www.conservatoryofflowers.org.
-- Joyce Slaton