Emily’s Post…Valencia Street

Pete and I finally spent some much needed time on Valencia Street. Being new to the VSR, I haven’t explored this area much, so it was a nice little adventure for me. First stop was Buffalo ExchangeI found a perfect Betsey Johnson dress hiding among all the old dresses. Unfortunately, it didn’t fit me, but it looked brand new and was only $24!  It looks they are already stocking up on “Ugly Christmas” sweaters. Maybe we should have a whole section devoted to this strange phenomenon? We shall see…. Next, Ritual Coffee for a quick pit stop and shameless bathroom selfie – see Instagram/Butterfly. One of the cool spots we stopped in was Paxton Gate. As interesting as their taxidermy and other curiosities were, my favorite part of the store was their green room filled with plants and cacti.

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Another highlight of the day was our discovery of Azalea‘s new boutique on V ST. Even better was that I knew one of the salespeople, my friend Gil! Gil told us a bit about the brand and it’s line, it’s original store in Hayes Valley and invited us to the Valencia Street opening party that night. I loved the stores’ style. Lots of black on black and very sleek clothes. Their accessories are also top notch. I usually don’t wear sunglasses, but I did get caught up trying on their array of spectacles – Pete can be very persuasive at times.

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Perhaps my favorite part of our journey was Clarion Alley. Arguably, the Mission’s most famous spot for graffiti and street art, Clarion Alley is a very vibrant place. All along the walls are colorful portraits of famous figures, animals, words, galaxies, and anything else you could think of. Even the ground is filled with art. Because I knew we were coming to this area, I decided to wear something that had a definite street vibe. “When in Rome” as they say! We finished up our outing exploring Harrington Galleries’ upper level. Let me say, antique furniture galore! This place just begs for photoshoots within their maze of chests, vanities, and armoires. A perfect place for an “Odalisque” portrait.

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All in all, our excursion on Valencia Street (our namesake) was a great success and nice break from roaming the rest of the city. If you haven’t discovered Valencia Street, I recommend you do so immediately. Take a whole day and have your own little adventure. Have a great Monday! – E.

Men…Dino.

Things have been very serious around here. I think we need all need a fashion fix. Thankfully, my buddy Dino showed up at just the right time.

Don’t get me wrong. Dino is one of the most creative guys I know, a shrewd businessman and has a silver tongue to boot, yet he not afraid to step out and show us all how to lighten up and enjoy the day.

For your viewing pleasure…Dino Ynostroza.

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The Variety Page…Keith Haring

Keith Haring at the DeYoung 

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My uncle had AIDS. He lived in NYC in the mid to late 80’s and was heavily involved with the street culture. Fortunately for him, he moved to Amsterdam and was able to get AZT before it was distributed in America. Keith Haring had been a major inspiration for my uncle as well as  many others. His art expressed, in it’s simplistic yet complex nature, the concepts of birth, death, war, sexuality, oppression, and much more. What was even more impressive was his desire to create art for the public. Haring was not interested in having his art displayed in museums, but rather in subways and on the concrete of the city. Often, he would risk getting arrested to draw on the subway posters in-between train rides and enjoyed spray painting on the walls of abandoned buildings. He said “The public needs art – and it is the responsibility of a ‘self-proclaimed artist’ to realize that the public needs art, and not to make bourgeois art for a few and ignore the masses.”

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Keith Haring: The Political Line is an exhibit at the deYoung that focuses on the political symbols and statements within Haring’s work. An interesting thing about his work is that it has different levels of which it can be viewed. Because of it’s cartoonish appearance, you can appreciate his paintings at face value and see them as only innocent drawings. Beyond that, you can then recognize the symbols he often used (such as the dog, the stick, “Radiant Baby,” etc.) to describe issues he saw in the world and how they affected the people. His work was almost never named or painted on traditional canvas. He considered himself a street artist and preferred for his art to be out in the open and up for interpretation. He often could create an image within minutes, and his method was to draw a continuous line to make his shapes. In this exhibit, we see many examples of his work mediums; chalk subway drawings, spray paintings on tarps, graffiti on statues, and much more. Haring always wanted the viewer to wonder what the symbols within his art meant, thus we can never be sure what is being expressed in each individual piece. Early on in his career, and what you see in this exhibit, are often scenes of oppression on groups of people, or people coming together to create life and love against this oppression. Also a guy with a great sense of humor, he often would include critiques of his friends and colleagues in his art, such as with his “Andy Mouse” piece, an interpretation of Andy Warhol. No matter the subject, whether it humorous or serious, Haring enjoyed promoting optimism in his art.

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 Keith Haring died in 1990, at only 31 years old, yet his legacy remains. He has been an inspiration for street artists, political activists, and fighters for social justice of all kinds. His work and life inspire people all around the world, myself included. As he would say, “Art is for everyone.” – E.

The Variety Page…Ai WeiWei

AI WEIWEI IN ALCATRAZ

The sensational political artist, Ai Weiweiis having an exhibit on Alcatraz. In 2011, Mr. Ai was held captive for 81 days for his political and social activism which outspokenly critiqued the Chinese government. His detention sparked outrage among both Chinese and international citizens, generating media attention on not only his artwork, but the censorship of free speech and expression in China. Though he is unable to leave China, Ai Weiwei has still created an elaborate display within one of America’s most notorious prisons.

@Large: Ai Weiwei focuses on the idea of freedom of speech and how governments around the world have stifled such expression throughout history. The artwork targets political prisoners and the injustices they have faced, a theme that mirrors not only Ai Weiwei’s story but the history of Alcatraz as well. As he was unable to come and install the pieces himself, most of the work was created at Mr. Ai’s home studio and shipped over, including a piece that weighs over 5 tons collectively. All of his pieces are up for interpretation, but it is evident that the development of each piece is connect with imprisonment, both literally and figuratively,

The first installment, titled “With Wind,” is housed in the New Industries Building and is composed of dozens of kites that come together to create a traditional Chinese dragon. In his description, Ai Weiwei presents the installment as a representation of “personal freedom,” where each individual kite carries quotes from activists who have been imprisoned or exiled.

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“Trace,” the second installment within the New Industries Building, focuses on 176 portraits of activists that have been incarcerated for expressing their beliefs or affiliations. The entire piece was hand built with LEGO bricks, mostly from Ai Weiwei’s home studio. Other parts of it were created by volunteers, under Mr. Ai’s instruction, once in Alcatraz.

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From the New Industries Building lower gun gallery, we are shown “Refraction,” a piece that weighs over 5 tons and incorporates reflective solar panel cookers used in Tibet, alluding to China’s current occupation within the country.

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In the main building, we see the other half of the exhibit. “Stay Tuned” is an installment that focuses exclusively on sound; as it’s an entire cell block (A Block- that housed mainly military prisoners) where an audio recording of someone who had either been detained for their creative expression, or created their art while incarcerated, is played in each individual cell.

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One of the most interactive pieces, “Yours Truly” invites visitors to communicate directly with current prisoners who have been incarcerated for their political involvement with freedom of speech and expression. Visitors can choose a post-card that’s been pre-addressed to a prisoner and write whatever message they want. The postcards are then placed in bins where they will be mailed by @Large guides.

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The final two exhibits were held within Alcatraz’s hospital, a particularly creepy place that isn’t usually open to the general public. One of the pieces, “Illumination,” is yet another audio experience where visitors stand within the chambers that were once used to house the mentally ill and listen to recordings of Tibetan and Native American chanting. The other piece, titled “Blossom,” is the placement of delicate porcelain flowers within the hospital’s many utilitarian fixtures. In contrast with the harshness of the building, the chanting and flowers represents comfort for those who have been imprisoned.

Ai Weiwei’s work continues to promote freedom for all, even when freedom is not a luxury he currently possesses. I think this is something we all can learn from. – E.

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*Photos have been deliberately obscured. You must experience his work first hand. – P.

The Lamppost…Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead

To those that have come into our lives and have gone on before us, the ones that have loved us and that we have loved in return. To our teachers, our caretakers, our lovers, our confidantes, our challengers, our guides. To those who have lived and loved and shown us the wonders of life. To those who have taught us the important things in life, sometimes roughly and sometimes with a gentle touch. To our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, grandparents and children.

To our friends and to ourselves.

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“What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.”

Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

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I love you and miss you.

The Variety Page…Bloggers

Last week, The VSR met with fellow bloggers, Rafael (Mr. Renaissance) and Kelly (A Side Of Sweet) for coffee and questions. The reason was to get involved with local bloggers and ask them technical and creative questions about their processes in the hopes that we could learn more and be inspired to further our own personal projects.

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Rafael started his personal style blog to document aspects of his life and spread positivity through fashion, culture, education, and more. He officially started blogging a year ago, yet had been brainstorming the idea for awhile before everything fell into place. Finding the perfect name was particularly important to him because he wanted something that expressed not only who he was but also who he wanted to become. A rebirth if you will. Hence, “Mr. Renaissance” was the natural choice.

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Kelly began her journal eight years ago to keep her family and friends updated on her travels through Spain. Since then, A Side Of Sweet has become a way of documenting her adventures in life, focusing on food, fashion, travel and DIY projects. She does everything from spotlighting her outfits for the day and creating her own food recipes to sharing crafting ideas and travel destinations.

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Rafael and Kelly have very similar ideas of what they want out of their projects, using them as creative outlets and a means to promote positivity, yet they also enjoy the business and technical aspects of running blogs, as well.

Rafael grew up in what he described as a “business oriented” household, so managing the nuts and bolts of the blog has come naturally to him. What is challenging for him is meshing the business aspects with the creative ones to create harmony. Kelly also enjoys the technical aspects of blogging and says one of her favorite parts is editing photos and working the backend. Rafael agreed, saying that he loves editing because he feels the way the photos look and are expressed show the reader how he was feeling at the time they were taken.

For Kelly, the biggest challenge of running a blog is creating and publishing seasonal content. An example would be creating a Thanksgiving recipe by Thanksgiving. “I create my own recipes, as you know, and they have to be done a certain way. The recipes are original so I actually make them. Then I take pictures of them in natural lighting, and those photos need to be edited. Next, the article has to be written and only when everything is put together does it get published. I love it, but it’s a long process, and finding the time can be challenging.” Because of her busy schedule, making posts in advance is sometimes necessary. Some of these challenges have been alleviated with the help of her husband, Pat, who takes shots of the outfits and assists with the blog, while Kelly photographs and manages all that remains. Wow! Truly, a labor of love!

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Rafael didn’t think he had any particular challenge of note. He did say he can get caught up in whether people are reading his posts or not. “You put all this work into new content, and you’re wondering why you aren’t always getting super awesome feedback. You just have to take a step back and remind yourself why you’re doing it. For me, it’s excellence over success, and the Universe gives us what we need when we are ready. So everything will fall into place. I just have to remember that.” We asked him if anyone helps him with the blog. He just smiled and said “a magician never tells his secrets!”

When asked what the most difficult technical aspect of creating a blogging was, they both laughed and exclaimed “choosing the fonts!”

As for the future of A Side Of Sweet, Kelly wants the blog to grow organically with her life and continue to promote creativity. Rafael is planning to eventually include videos in Mr. Renaissance, turning it into a three dimensional space where readers will get a better understanding of the blog’s personality. In any case, The VSR fully supports their endeavors and knows that no matter what, they will always have Style! – E.

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Emily’s Post…GALA

GALA

Phew! It’s been quite a long week, hasn’t it? I’m sure we are all looking for a relaxing and fun way to kick back and end the week, right? And what better way to do so than with an Emily’s Post. I’ve got some great stuff for you today!

The VSR had a special kind of coffee meeting earlier this week, the details of which will be revealed a little later. Though it was on Union street again, I decided to go with a more street style type of outfit that would go along with the busy tone of the day. Black is one of my most favorite colors to wear, and mixing it with different styles, shades, and colors is always fun. I had recently bought these new boots and wanted to show them off, so of course I had to pair them with something fun, which is what led me to sport this sassy crop top.

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Top: Forever 21 | Skirt: Forever 21 | Lip: Givenchy | Bag: Vintage Betsey Johnson | Boot: Ivanka Trump Shoes

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After our meeting, we went to go check out this boutique that we’d noticed before called GALA. A cute and unique shop, GALA carries vintage inspired clothing and accessories for women. Here’s what the owner, Gayle Recuerdo, had to say about it:

“Gala, which means “a celebration” or “festive occasion,” defines the boutique and its essence. The store celebrates each individual’s beauty by offering classy and unique pieces for any occasion. GALA SAN FRANCISCO comes from my personal quest for women to have a go-to place for fun, modern, and vintage inspired clothing, jewelry and accessories. I am in love with pieces that have classic cuts, unique patterns and have that vintage feel to them. It is my goal and my dream to give women that balance of modern and vintage, and I believe that GALA fulfills that niche.”

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I agree with Gayle completely. I adored the beautiful patterns and cuts to her dresses so much that I couldn’t pick between two choices, so I bought them both! Speaking of buying, one of the other great things I noticed was how affordable this shop is, especially for the neighborhood it resides in. That, combined with the amazing selection of dresses, sweaters, scarves, jewelry, and more, make this a top shopping destination for my fellow fashionistas. So be sure to check it out sometime, and have a great weekend everyone!

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The Boutiques…California Crown

California Crown

This is Jay Perlman and this is his work. I’ll let him do the talking. – PH.

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“People often ask me ‘why do you make clothes?’ or ‘what inspires you to make these collections?’ I used to have a long, overblown, much more scripted version of this answer, but in reality, the reason is that I simply make clothes that I want to wear. They are clothes that are missing from my closet that I NEED in my life. It’s a blended process of personal necessity mixed with the desire for creative expression. Thanks to a bit of luck, as well as meeting amazing and helpful individuals, California Crown has turned into a full time business.”

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“Having been an athlete for nearly my entire life, I always look for clothing to be comfortable while still maintaining a high level of utility. To be able to wear an outfit that is comfortable enough for the couch, technical enough for active movement, and stylish enough for Pharrell to rock at the Grammy’s is truly the ultimate goal.”

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“I love my home, and I love how rooted I am in this incredible state. With unparalleled natural surroundings, amazing history, and its deeply eclectic culture, I always knew that California would be incorporated into my work. Yet, the people that I have met here have possible been the greatest part about living here. There is so much love and passion, that it is hard not to connect with everyone around you. Thankfully, I connected with Pete, and was fortunate enough to be a part of the VSR. Couldn’t ask for a doper way to start the weekly grind.”

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Not only can Jay design great clothes, but he has a way with words. I particularly like the way he finished his story! There is plenty more of California Crown to come. Look for another spotlight here soon with some of Jay’s sexy friends doing the modeling duties. That’s all I have to say about that for now. Until then….

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