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Preview: SFGate: Sam Whiting

Sam Whiting


Bokara Legendre, solo performer, socialite and Buddhist, dead at 77

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 21:34:17 UT

Bokara Legendre, a solo performer, TV host and self-described “socialite-turned-social activist,” died Dec. 3 in her Mill Valley home from an aggressive form of thyroid cancer. She was 77. Legendre built a public persona out of her background as an heiress who was raised by servants in the South, made her way into the tippy top of San Francisco society, then evolved into a spiritual seeker who was friendly with the Dalai Lama. Her memoir, “Not What I Expected,” was published in July, and in November, while terminally ill, she gave a reading at Book Passage in Corte Madera.

Cal Band director turns in his baton after 28 years

Thu, 7 Dec 2017 03:00:00 UT

After 28 years of putting on white gloves and climbing a 6-foot ladder to do his conducting, Dr. Robert Calonico is retiring as director of the University of California Marching Band, commonly known as the Cal Band. Calonico, 63, announced to his students Wednesday evening that this year will be his last as UC Berkeley Director of Bands, an umbrella that covers the smaller Straw Hat Band that plays basketball games and pep rallies, and the 60-piece University Wind Ensemble that tours internationally. “I’d rather leave too soon than one day too late,” said Calonico, whose final performance with the 240-member marching band was in November at the Big Game at Stanford.

Forgotten Japanese POW camp recalled in Chinatown exhibition

Tue, 5 Dec 2017 18:30:13 UT

The torture and travail endured on the Bataan Death March is well known. What isn’t is the torture and travail those prisoners of war were put through when they reached their end destination in China. This remembrance is the mission of “Forgotten Camp: Allied POWs of Shenyang,” a North American premiere at the World War II Pacific War Memorial Hall, inside a Chinatown storefront. The display of 200 enlarged images, along with wall text and illustrations smuggled out by the POWs themselves, comes from China’s Site Museum of Shenyang POW Camp of World War II Allied Forces, and this is its North American premiere.

Jack Stauffacher, typographer and master printer, dies at 96

Sat, 25 Nov 2017 22:30:35 UT

Jack Stauffacher, a master printer who taught himself on a mail-order press and ended up with his austere and exquisite typography in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley, has died. Mr. Stauffacher died Nov. 16 at his longtime home in Tiburon, said his daughter, Francesca Stauffacher of Corte Madera. He was 96. In a nearly 80-year career that started when he was a teenager, Mr. Stauffacher worked with metal and wood type and printed everything from business cards and tickets to fine art books and museum monographs. Along the way, he was part of the North Beach bohemia that spawned the Beats after World War II.

Throw rugs cover Fort Mason Chapel for ‘Sanctuary’

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 19:34:40 UT

Ala Ebtekar’s rug was a month late for the art opening, but exhibition organizers saved a place for it in the middle of the 36 individual works that form “Sanctuary,” an art installation inside the Fort Mason Chapel. When the final piece was placed, in early November, the exhibition was complete and the polished wooden floor of the church got covered with intricately woven rugs as if they are yoga mats. “You have no idea how the whole thing comes together until you walk in,” says Ebtekar, after visiting the chapel for the first time. “I think the exhibition is best experienced as a collective of voices. It demands that kind of engagement.

Harvey Milk memorialized in light and art in the Castro

Thu, 9 Nov 2017 14:15:16 UT

Before the rain came the rainbow. On the 40th anniversary of the election of San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, shafts of multicolored LED lights rose into the clouds as “Harvey’s Halo” came alive in the Castro on Wednesday night. The light sculptures shine from the top of the old Bank of America building at Harvey Milk Plaza at the corner of Market and Castro and were created by Illuminate, the nonprofit that has bedazzled the Bay Bridge and the Conservatory of Flowers, and is slowly transforming the city’s skyline in LED. An estimated crowd of 600 stood on both sides of Castro Street to watch the dedication.

Old wooden seats from Cal’s Memorial Stadium on sale Saturday

Fri, 3 Nov 2017 02:41:47 UT

Fans headed to Berkeley for the Oregon State game on Saturday afternoon can stop and pick up their seats on the way to Memorial Stadium. The old wooden bleachers, still marked with seat numbers and faded gold paint on them, are being sold, by the linear foot and in smaller pieces on the frontage road next to Interstate 80. The Wooden Duck, a furniture manufacturer that salvaged most of the wood from the stands when the the stadium was renovated from 2010 through ’12, is going out of business Nov. 15. A warehouse full of “Cal Stadium Wood,” as the company labels it, is being brought to the showroom in time for a 10 a.m. opening Saturday.

Marilyn Ress, who died in Wine Country fire, remembered as ‘angel on Earth’

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 23:39:20 UT

During the holidays at the Mayette Apartments in Santa Rosa, Marilyn Ress went door-to-door to find out which of her fellow residents had no place to go for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. She’d bring the list to her best friend, Cynthia Conners, who would start cooking. Then when the day came, Ms. Ress would put on an apron with hearts on it, wrap individual dinner plates in foil and make deliveries to anyone who was home alone. “She’d give them a meal, and she’d give them a hug,” Conners said. “She was ecstatic and proud.” Prouder still that after 15 years in the apartment complex, Ms. Ress saved enough to buy her own home in the Journey’s End Mobile Home Park on Flamingo Road.

Noted falcon preservationist killed in Tubbs Fire

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 02:14:22 UT

Monte Neil Kirven, a wildlife biologist credited with helping ban DDT in order to save the Peregrine Falcon, was among those killed in the Tubbs Fire. He was 81 and lived in the Mark West Springs Road area of Santa Rosa, where he died in bed, according to multiple postings on Facebook. “The Bureau of Land Management is saddened at the loss of our former colleague, Dr. Monte Kirven, who as a wildlife biologist dedicated his life to the recovery of the American Peregrine Falcon,” said Serena Baker, public affairs specialist at the agency’s central California district in El Dorado Hills. Baker had been informed by former colleagues and BLM retirees that Mr. Kirven had died in the fire.

Noted North Bay sculptor’s art wiped out in wildfire

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 01:46:23 UT

In the back of a buddy’s police car, Boback Emad rode up into the hills of the evacuation zone of Santa Rosa to see what was left of his 30-year career as an artist. He already knew what was left of his two-story home/studio, his Picasso, his Miro and his Dali, his own hot-tar paintings, his delicate aluminum mobiles, the 1973 Porsche 911 parked in the garage and the Airstream tricked out for Burning Man parked in the driveway. “Absolutely nothing,” he said to a reporter who had hitched along. “I’m just trying to hold it together.” Still, there was hope for his own art.

Artists putting their stamps on Polk Street’s ‘Passports’

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 20:15:13 UT

San Francisco artist Lynn Kirby has been going to the Russian Hill Bookstore since it opened 24 years ago. So when she was invited by the San Francisco Arts Commission to design a unique ink stamp for any business on Polk Street, she requested the bookstore. Come by on Sunday, Oct. 22, and Kirby will be at a desk stamping books just like Marian the Librarian in “The Music Man.” Her stamp is a spin on the ex libris bookplates that link a book to its owner. “I like to make work that is related to a place and has a history,” says Kirby, who is one of 16 local artists participating in “Passport,” a one-day scavenger hunt on Middle Polk, between California and Green streets.

Bill Turnage, who managed Ansel Adams and ran Wilderness Society, dies

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 22:38:44 UT

Bill Turnage, a former president of the Wilderness Society who also became a force in photography through his control of Ansel Adams’ publishing rights, died Sunday at his home in Mill Valley. The cause of death was stomach and esophageal cancer, said his brother, Robert Turnage. He was 74. Mr. Turnage was a graduate student running a fellowship program at Yale College in 1970 when he invited the famed California nature photographer to the campus to give a week of lectures. The two got along so well that Adams later invited Mr. Turnage to move to Carmel and manage his business affairs.

3 siblings suffer together after loss of their Santa Rosa homes

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 04:30:02 UT

When the Tubbs Fire blew toward the Coffey Park subdivision after midnight last Monday, three cell phones came alive with brothers and sisters frantically calling each other, the first warnings of the disaster that would strike one Santa Rosa family. The phones belonged to Kathy Braly and her two brothers, Mark and Mike Deas. All three lived within a mile of each other. All three were warned to get out, and all three of their families did. Their homes, identical with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, were gone by daybreak.

Art and Suiko Grant: A decades-long love story ends in the Tubbs Fire

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 03:28:46 UT

When the Tubbs Fire reached the hilltop property of Art and Suiko Grant in Santa Rosa, the couple gathered their small pet dog and took refuge in the wine cellar of their home of more than 45 years. This is where they died together last Monday, according to their daughter Trina Grant. He was 95 and she was 75. Mr. Grant was a retired captain with Pan American World Airways who had met his Japanese-born wife in Honolulu while working for the airline. “It was a true love-at-first-sight story,” said Trina Grant, by Facebook Messenger. “He found the most beautiful gal in the world to marry.” Arthur Tasman Grant grew up in Point Arena, one of 13 kids on a dairy farm.

Fewer than 20 residents remain in Calistoga as Tubbs Fire inches closer

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 15:41:50 UT

In the midday haze, a lone figure wearing a mask and neon safety vest walked down the yellow lines dividing the empty main street of Calistoga. It was Mayor Chris Canning. He was making house calls. About 40 people defied an all-city mandatory evacuation order issued Wednesday to spend the night in their homes, to sleep in their beds. By Thursday afternoon, about half of the holdouts had gone, leaving roughly 15 remaining residents in a town with a population of 5,400. Neon X’s spray-painted on the front walkways of homes marked the spots where residents had refused to leave, even after several visits from authorities. First came the firefighters. Then police and correctional officers.