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Preview: SFGate: Sam Whiting

Sam Whiting


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.

Navy veteran, wife among 10 newly identified victims of Wine Country fires

Fri, 13 Oct 2017 04:46:37 UT

A Navy war veteran and his wife were among 10 residents of Sonoma County who were identified Thursday as victims of the devastating Wine Country fires. Arthur Tasman Grant, 95, and Suiko Grant, 75, died when the Tubbs Fire tore through northern Santa Rosa early Monday. Their daughter Trina Grant posted on Facebook that they had been unable to escape the fire in the Mark West Springs Road area. Grant said her father had served as a lieutenant in the Navy and trained as a fighter pilot both Hellcats and Corsairs in World War II, but the war ended before he saw combat. After the war, he flew for Pan Am as a commercial pilot and met his future wife in Honolulu.

Sculpture mixes surplus office furniture with biodiesel grease

Wed, 11 Oct 2017 21:13:41 UT

In addition to all the working people put out on the curb by the Internet economy, there is a lot of working furniture. A startup will burn through its funding and shut down. All those ergonomic chairs and whiteboards have to be be offloaded, and standing by is Patricia L. Boyd. But Boyd is a sculptor, not a scavenger. “My work has to do with cycles of boom and bust,” Boyd says shortly after arriving from her Hoboken, N.J., studio to oversee installation of her latest work at California College of the Arts’ Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts in San Francisco. “It’s the way that things become extremely disposable in an economy that is continually trying to reinvent new value.

Long-lost Cassady letter to Kerouac finally finds a home

Mon, 2 Oct 2017 23:25:43 UT

After a legal battle over its ownership and one failed auction attempt, a long-lost letter mailed from Beat legend Neal Cassady to author Jack Kerouac has been acquired by Emory University in Atlanta. The 18-page single-spaced typed document was known as the “Joan Anderson Letter.” It was the inspiration for the spontaneous prose style Kerouac made famous in his masterpiece “On the Road” and was purchased at auction. The sale to Emory was confirmed to The Chronicle by Jim Sampas, literary executor for the estate of Jack Kerouac. The price was $206,250, according to published reports — one-tenth the price it was originally said to be worth.

Harvey Milk Plaza to get rainbow light installation

Sun, 1 Oct 2017 23:37:56 UT

Harvey Milk Plaza, a dated transit hub and gathering place at the intersection of Market and Castro streets, will soon be lit in white neon and an array of rainbow colors shooting into the sky to honor the slain San Francisco supervisor. The two light sculptures by the nonprofit Illuminate will be unveiled Nov. 8 at a free public ceremony to honor the 40th anniversary of Milk’s election to the Board of Supervisors, which made him the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California. The artwork and dedication were initiated by the Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza as the beacon for a planned multimillion-dollar remake of the public space outside the Castro Muni Metro Station.

Ambulance and fire vehicle collide in Vallejo

Sun, 1 Oct 2017 02:17:18 UT

Two Vallejo emergency response vehicles driving to to separate emergencies collided in an intersection Saturday morning. According to a news release issued by Vallejo Police, at 9:48 a.m. a Medic ambulance headed to one call on eastbound Florida Street crashed into a Vallejo Fire Department Ford Explorer headed to another call on southbound Sonoma Boulevard. The two met at the intersection of Florida and Sonoma. Three emergency personnel were transported to the hospital and later released with minor injuries. A Nissan Altima also got tangled up in the mess but the driver was uninjured. Cause of the crash is under investigation.