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San Francisco

My Impressions of San Francisco

My Impressions of San Francisco

 

Little cable cars climbing half-way to the stars enticed the artist to imagine an exotic and foreign place that Tony Bennett introduced me to over 40 years ago.  Hearing the song quite frequently paved the way for me in the early sixties to wonder about this town. 

In my very impressionable youth Rod Mckuen spoke of Stanyan St. and romance was set ablaze as I cherished the images painted by McKuen. I found the poem Stanyan St. embedded a vast array of feelings that became part of my psyche. Forty years later a chance acquaintance with Chapman Solomon resulted in my visit to San Francisco, on the spur of the moment.  Chap organized a whirlwind visit and I observed the city and its environs including: Stanford University (the Rodins), The Jewish Contemporary Museum, (the Chagall Show), The Legion of Honour (Van Gogh, Chihuly, Mark di Suvero), Lombard St., the Painted Ladies, Transamerica, Sentinel Building, Alcatraz, St. Peter and St. Paul Cathedral, Chinatown, Stanyan St., the cable cars, the Golden Gate, The Bay Bridge, Museum of Modern Art, City Hall, The Symphony, Sausalito (rock sculptures), Coit Tower, and the Heart Sculptures.  In my impressionable autumn years romance continues to fire my spirit.  I Looked and drove down Stanyan Street and created a theme within a theme.  “You lie bent up in embryo sleep below the painting of a blue fisherman without a pillow.  The checkered cover kicked and tangled on the floor. ...A car going by....a fire engine up the hill....The light from the street lamp coming through the shutters.....hysterical patterns flash on the wall sometimes when a car goes by...You’ve  filled completely this first November day with Sausalito...Moving about in the bathroom taking twenty minutes of our precious time....Only the clock moving towards rejection tomorrow breaks the stillness.....Those houses on Pacific that march toward posterity restored by dilettantes from Jackson Square painted up like aging actresses with eye-shadow windows and rouge-red doors....these houses almost shiny new that crowd Nob Hill and marched down Lombard in a row,...the San Francisco wreckers and their yard long hammers.  Their caterpillar treads that transform brick to dust-red powder.  Those giant cranes....”

I created my own Fisherman in Blue, and surrounded it with another painting, “Stanyan Street, A T­­­­­­ribute to Rod McKuen”.  So the, “Fisherman in Blue” is now a painting, within a painting, within a painting.

The City of San Francisco is now one of my favourite cities in the world and continues to inspire me to create artworks.  I can reiterate the words of both Tony Bennett and Rod McKuen.  My heart belongs to San Francisco and unbelievably to me it was more fantastic than all my dreams imagined.

Thank you, Mr. Rod McKuen, for the following beautiful poem of inspiration.

 

STANYAN STREET

 

for Glenn and Ellen, Jocelyn and Tony, Flo and Eddie and...

 

1.

You lie bent up in embryo sleep

below the painting of the blue fisherman

without a pillow.

The checkered cover kicked and tangled on the

floor

the old house creaking now

a car going by

the wind

a fire engine up the hill.

 

I've disentangled myself from you

moved silently,

groping in the dark for cigarettes,

and now three cigarettes later

still elated

still afraid

I sit across the room watching you -

the light from the street lamp coming through the

shutters

hysterical patterns flash on the wall sometimes

when a car goes by

otherwise there is no change.

Not in the way you lie curled up.

Not in the sounds that never come from you.

Not in the discontent I feel.

 

You've filled completely

this first November day

with Sausalito and sign language

canoe and coffee

ice cream and your wide eyes.

And now unable to sleep

because the day is finally going home

because your sleep has locked me out

I watch you and wonder at you.

 

I know your face by touch when it's dark

I know the profile of your sleeping face

the sound of you sleeping.

 

Sometimes I think you were all sound

kicking free of covers

and adjusting shutters

moving about in the bathroom

taking twenty minutes of our precious time.

 

I know the hills

and gullys of your body

the curves

the turns.

 

I have total recall of you

and Stanyan Street

because I know it will be important later.

 

It's quiet now.

Only the clock,

moving toward rejection tomorrow

breaks the stillness.

 

2.

 

I have come as far away

as means and mind will take me

trying to forget you.

I have traveled, toured

turned a hundred times in the road

hoping to see you rushing after me.

 

At night,

though half a world away,

I still hear you sigh in several sizes.

The breathing softer when you're satisfied.

The plip-plop body machinery back to normal.

remembering how warm you are

and how defenseless in your sleep

never fails to make me cry.

I cannot bear the thought of you

in someone else's arms

yet imagining you alone is sad.

 

And in the day

my mind still rides the bridge

from Sausalito home.

I do not think

me and San Francisco

will be friends again

we share too many troubles.

Stanyan Street and other sorrows.

 

3.

 

We try so hard to make each other frown

I sometimes wonder

if we haven't been together much too long.

The words that work the wonders are so few

that they seem foolish anymore.

 

Is this a kind of loving too,

a chocolate bar that tastes good at the time

but kills the dinner later on ?

Could be our appetite will go

till even memory's not a feast.

 

But there are times

when you can smile in such a way

that I'd forget a ten year war

and lie down in your shadows' shadow

and live on sounds your stomach makes.

In these brief times

I could die against your side

and never make a warning sound

content to suffocate

within the circle of your back.

 

4.

 

Three years

( or maybe four )

have moved beneath the San Francisco wreckers

and their yard-long hammers.

Their caterpillar treads that transform brick

to dust-red powder.

Those giant cranes

that slice a roof down

with a single swing.

 

Some have never known the wreckers' rattle.

Those houses on Pacific that march toward

posterity

restored by dilettantes from Jackson Square

painted up like aging actresses

with eye-shadow windows and rouge-red doors.

Some have had collections taken up

petitions passed from hand to hand.

Their widows walks scraped free of dirt

and green grass planted where the weeds once grew.

 

These houses almost shiny new

that crowd Nob Hill

and marched down Lombard in a row

were saved to show the glory of the past.

 

There was a house on Stanyan street

that took a single day to wreck

and that includes an hour spent

at tin-pail lunch on sandwiches and beer.

 

They carted off the timber and sold it by the

pound.

The bricks at least, ten cents a piece,

now make a Marin garden wall.

 

But there is little salvage to be had

in bent and broken nails

and things that might have been

if I'd had wiser eyes

or been a fisherman

in blue.

 

-Rod McKuen from "Stanyan Street & Other Sorrows", 1966

 

Patrick Mason

www.Patrickmasonartist.com

"Morro Rock", Oil on Masonite, 24" x 34". $4,300.00.
“My Impressions of San Francisco”: Oil on Masonite, 36 in. X 48 in. Little cable cars climbing half-way to the stars enticed me to imagine an exotic and foreign place that Tony Bennett introduced me t "My Impressions of San Francisco", Oil on Masonite, 36" x 48". $7,000.00.
"Lone Cyprus On 17 Mile Panorama California", Oil on Masonite, 36" x 48". $6,500.00.
"Impressions of a San Francisco Eatery", Oil on Masonite, 8" x 10". $400.00.
"Impressions Of A San Francisco Street", Oil on Masonite, 8" x 10". $400.00.
"Impressions of a Painted Lady", Oil on Masonite, 8" x 10". $400.00.
"A Fisherman In Blue", Oil on Masonite, 18" x 24", "Private Collection"
"A Tribute to Rod McKuan, Stanyon Street, San Francisco", Oil on Masonite, 18" x 24". $2,400.00.
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