Staff at the Sheriff's Department is gracious, unearthing the forms allowing them to possess a portrait of the dour former Sheriff Charles Doane. The paperwork resembles preexisting damage reports filled out by car-rental customers; Doane has a few dings on his hairline and frame. It turns out erstwhile Sheriff Mike Hennessey sought out this painting not for its subject but out of fascination with its artist: Charles Nahl, a member of the Vigilance Committee of 1856 and the creator of its stunning imagery. Doane glowers in his 1862 portrait. Perhaps he was aware he'd die that year.

The City Administrator's office features three de Young works: A charming 1866 landscape of paddle-wheel steamers churning through the bay; an image of a man resembling William S. Burroughs eying a distant Coit Tower; and a piece called "Chocolate Ship" depicting rock formations on the Farallones — where there is much guano but little chocolate.

Finally, Supervisor Eric Mar ostensibly has a pair of paintings, but his staff wouldn't let your humble narrator in to appreciate them. The supervisor was holding some manner of meeting within his chambers, which likely means that, come next week, some guilty pleasure of yours will be banned.

Erstwhile Sheriff Charles Doane glowers in his 1862 portrait. But he'd look worse later that year.
All images courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
Erstwhile Sheriff Charles Doane glowers in his 1862 portrait. But he'd look worse later that year.
Meiggs' Wharf, an 1866 landscape by T. Millies, provides the city administrator with a bay view.
All images courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
Meiggs' Wharf, an 1866 landscape by T. Millies, provides the city administrator with a bay view.

His office isn't lacking in fine art, however. Virtually hidden atop a cabinet is a delightful representation of an articulated Muni bus: The accordion midsection appears to be an old bedspring; ads and passengers are rendered in charming comic art; and the wheels are woodcuts with eucalyptus nut hubcaps.

At last: Public transportation for the faeries. The bus's body may have been an old cinder block; tapping a ballpoint pen against it revealed it to be rock-hard. This also induced an aide to snort "Don't touch that! It's on display!" The receptionist, wearing that strained expression of fear, impatience, and boredom used on people who opt to remove their pants at chain restaurants, says the magic words: "Sir, I'm going to have to ask you to leave."

When people say, "Sir, I'm going to have to ask you to leave," they rarely follow through and actually ask you to leave. It's just sort of implied.

Well, fair enough. That was enough fun for an afternoon. Your humble narrator's exit was, dare we say it, artful.

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1 comments
mblaircheney
mblaircheney topcommenter

This article has been up for over a week and no comment posted.


San Francisco, the artsy fartsy capitol of the west coast, where on nearly every corner is a satellite campus of some Art school or another, tempting you to change your life of dullness with one of creative endeavors… tuition loans easily arranged while you wait.


Yet none of them, as of yet, has weighed in on the quite hijacking and lack of accountability of that which they are trying to achieve. Immortality, art will last forever… if you use archive quality materials.


If artwork sits in a private office… can anyone see it? Does anyone give a shit!

 
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