When the ancient Polynesians invented surfing, they often used a paddle to help them navigate. Fast-forward a few millennia, and Stand-Up Paddleboarding, or SUP, finds itself trendy again. Part of its increasing popularity is that standing upright allows surfers to spot waves more easily and thus catch more of them, multiplying the fun factor. Paddling back to the wave becomes less of a strain as well. The ability to cruise along on flat inland water, surveying the sights, is another advantage. Finally, its a good core workout. If youre sold on the idea, schedule an intro SUP lesson, free with board and paddle rental, and you may find yourself riding the waves like a Polynesian king.More
Llewelynn Fletcher's immersive sculptures beguile the senses. Sasha Petrenko's site-specific installations and performances strive to capture a dynamic, living planet. Austin Thomas hides heady themes in seemingly austere drawings, photos, and sculptures. She also cobbles together site-specific social spaces which she calls "perches," but which are obviously kick-ass treehouses, minus the trees. These and other artists are contributing super-sized works for "Just Passing Through: Sculptures and Installations" at the University of San Francisco's Rooftop Sculpture Terrace. "Just Passing Through" promises to challenge notions about how we inhabit or pass through space, or at least provide a lovely respite in a busy city.
"Just Passing Through: Sculptures and Installations" is open to the public 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and runs through Dec. 11 at Kalmanovitz Hall, University of San Francisco, 2130 Fulton St., S.F. Free; 422-5178 or usfca.edu. More
Mondays-Fridays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through Dec. 11
Weird little marvels are the works of Ron Nagle, the ceramicist whose work has helped prove that a sculptor who works in clay can be a serious presence in the art world. Nagle has been making vessels and intimate-sized sculptures since the 1960s, when he was associated with the norm-busting California ceramics movement and studied with one of its prime forces, fellow abstract-expressionist Peter Voulkos. A species of one, Nagle has continued to create compelling and painstakingly crafted pieces that are elegant yet unsettling. His sculptures contain puckered surfaces, unusual textural juxtapositions, amorphous shapes, and a surreal look. His cups, some of which have been overglazed and repeatedly fired, appear to have come from a tea party on Mars. With diverse influeneces, including ceramicist Ken Price, abstractionist Cy Twombly, still-life painter Giorgio Morandi, and California cool-car culture, Nagle is a distinctive artist and a San Francisco spirit. To learn more, come hear his lecture at the San Francisco Art Institute — his first appearance there since his 1978 Adaline Kent Award exhibition.More
199 Valencia St., 415-255-7505
As beloved dive bars shutter their doors (RIP Pop’s) and new, shiny condominiums spring up all over the Mission District, there is one place left that defies the tech empire’s new, unsullied landscape of luxury: Zeitgeist.
Part of what gives San Francisco its, um, charm is its vibrant history of colorful characters. The city has survived multiple earthquakes in addition to plenty of cultural and political upheavals. (Merchant ships are buried beneath the streets!) From its beginning, our enticing Baghdad by the Bay has attracted free spirits and entrepreneurs alike, perhaps no more so than during the Gold Rush. And sure the 49ers were full of pluck and determination, but what of the women who came to San Francisco to seek their fortunes? Yes, we're talking about the city's original sex workers, the prostitutes who plied their trade at a time when men outnumbered women in the city 50 to 1. (That bears repeating: Men outnumbered women 50 to 1.) Revel in the salaciousness of their stories at a screening of Michael Rohde's film Madams of the Barbary Coast hosted by local historian and tour guide extraordinaire Daniel Bacon, a man who intimately knows the secrets of this debaucherous district. Hear about Chinese madam Ah Toy and the infamous Tessie Wall, legendary for gunning down an unfaithful lover in broad daylight. The movie also gives screen time to the female reformers who were keen on ending the slave trade prevalent in Chinatown during the era. One was Donaldina Cameron, who often risked her life to rescue underage prostitutes. It was a wild and dangerous time but also an exhilarating one, when traditional class, race, and gender lines were a little blurry. These are the enterprising women who took full advantage.
Fri., Oct. 21, 7 p.m., 2011