Mission Lake an urban legend

I witness a constant drama when I paint in the Mission District. There is a cast of thousands all of whom have riveting stories about themselves and about the locations where I'm painting. They are wonderful stories - though I sometimes doubt if some of them are true. But stories, true or untrue, tell us a lot about the neighborhood.

Mission Lake # 1 - This work will be part of my exhibition at Luna Rienne Gallery July 8 - Aug 7

Mission Lake # 1 - This work will be part of my exhibition at Luna Rienne Gallery July 8 - Aug 7

When a fire ripped through the enormous, three story corner building at 22nd and Mission Streets on January 28th, 2015 it had a huge impact on the community. The building was home to a number of businesses including the New Mission Market as well as sixty-two tenants, one of whom died in the conflagration. Coinciding closely with the release of locally filmed " The Other Barrio"  a " neo-noir " which dealt with the issues of gentrification and landlord sponsored arson, the Mission was rife with anger and speculation. 

 The abandoned building experienced two more fires before it was bulldozed early in 2016 leaving an adjacent, fire scarred building standing forlornly above a gaping hole. This scene was, I observed to my painter friend John Paul Marcelo, an excellent illustration of the gentrification that was ravaging the Mission District. He promptly painted a small canvas that beautifully conveyed this sentiment.

Oil painting by John Paul Marcelo

Oil painting by John Paul Marcelo

Though always in the back of my mind, it took me much longer to get around to painting the scene.  I noticed, In the intervening months, the imposing black iron fence that rose around the abandoned site, but I hadn't stopped to gaze through it. When I did I was amazed. The gaping hole had become a calm reflecting pool surrounded by clumps of flowers. And large scale graffiti had blossomed on the side of the forlorn building above the pond.

Immediately I started painting, people were asking me if I'd heard the frogs.

 "Frogs!" I exclaimed " In the middle of the Mission?" 

"Yes, you can hear them at night." a young man responded.

 His friend indicated an official sign posted further down the black fence titled "The Mission Memorial Frog Sanctuary".  I was in a hurry to return to my painting so I scanned the notice until I reached the key paragraph "After 235 years, the hibernating Mission Frogs finally emerged from the foundation of the fallen framework, producing a profound presence in the present pasture and pond."

I was astonished. That evening I pondered the possibility that frogs could hibernate for 235 years. The next evening my wife, Beryl Landau, and I walked to the Alamo Drafthouse Movie Theater to pick up a DVD. On our way back we stopped at the pond. We heard no frogs, but we took a closer look at the sign. It's purple prose as well as the dedication, 'Donated to the community by the Haus of GWERT', was a giveaway that this was an elaborate prank. Going online I found cell phone recordings of the "Frogs"  except to me they sounded like one solitary bullfrog.

So, some joker introduced a bull frog into a muddy hole and another put up a sign and now the whole neighborhood was buzzing about the renewal of nature at "Mission Lake". Of course, since I was painting this "miracle" I got swept up in the story . My painting and I were popping up on social media.

Chewy Marzolo. owner of Escape from New York Pizza, posted the photo to the left.

 Did the rapid growth of this urban legend alarm the property owner? Did he fear a mass movement to dedicate Mission Lake as a public park?

Whatever the reason, the Mission Memorial Frog Sanctuary sign disappeared from the fence, and I arrived, one day towards the end of my second painting, to discover the the "Lake" dry.  A woman informed me that it hadn't evaporated as I initially supposed. It had been pumped dry. A worker in a red shirt was busily painting over the graffiti on the house. Of the "miracle", only the flowers remained. Flowers that I realized, early on, where not wildflowers.

 "You're right about that." a tall man observed who turned out to be Chewy Marzolo, proprietor of Escape from New York Pizza.

 " The cat is out of the bag, so I can confess. I scattered seeds from the roof when it was wet and rainy. I think that it really improved the site."

Mission Lake # 2  This painting will be part of my exhibition at Luna Rienne Gallery July 8 - Aug 7

Mission Lake # 2  This painting will be part of my exhibition at Luna Rienne Gallery July 8 - Aug 7

The Rise of Fascism In America

In 2003 I was painting at 8th and Jefferson in West Oakland when our forces invaded Iraq. As I followed the reports of our illegal aggression and the wholesale slaughter of innocent civilians, I found myself imagining Oakland invaded by Abrams Tanks firing, willy-nilly at all perceived threats. Below is a detail from my painting titled "Regime Change Comes to Oakland"

At the time, this painting was intended as a metaphor, a way of arousing empathy for the unfortunate people of Iraq, but it began to acquire a surreal prescience during Occupy when I witnessed the Alameda County Sheriff riding around the streets of Oakland in an armored vehicle identical to the ones being used in Iraq.

I recalled my brother in law, Saul Landau, observing some years ago that Democracy and Empire were incompatible. I witnessed Homeland Security directing the use of overwhelming force and agent provocateurs against peaceful protesters. It was clear to me that we were sliding towards Fascism.

What was fairly obvious to activists in 2011 has become crystal clear to millions of Americans with the accession of Trump. The fact that this sociopath did not win the popular vote and probably stole the swing states with the help of Republican operatives, only makes matters worse, because it throws into doubt the continued viability of our political system.

This image may be be downloaded and printed as a 13.5" X 15.75"" poster or as 7.5" X 8.5" print . Download poster.         Download print.

This image may be be downloaded and printed as a 13.5" X 15.75"" poster or as 7.5" X 8.5" print . Download poster.         Download print.

A General Strike

Donald Trump has already demonstrated his utter contempt for our democratic institutions. He has begun by attacking the most vulnerable among us - immigrants. It is clear that without organized opposition he will go on to cripple the judiciary, assail the fourth estate and dismantle essential social programs that the majority of Americans need to survive.

No effective opposition can be mounted from within the government alone. After all, the Republicans control all branches of government, and, so far,  are gleefully advancing his agenda.

Demonstrations, and e-mails alone will not halt the consolidation of power by Trump and his cabal. We must demonstrate our greater power unequivocally by shutting down the economic engine of this nation. A General Strike, perhaps a series of them, will send a clear message to Trump and will also weaken support for him within the Republican Party. It is the most effective tool the people have. We need to use it soon!

Occupy the Port of Oakland, 2011( My good friend John Paul Marcelo is painting the same event on the far left. To view a video of many of the Occupy paintings that we painted along with Jessica Joy Jirsa, scroll down to "Anarcho-Syndicalism. Camille Pissaro and the Occupy Movement" )

Occupy the Port of Oakland, 2011( My good friend John Paul Marcelo is painting the same event on the far left. To view a video of many of the Occupy paintings that we painted along with Jessica Joy Jirsa, scroll down to "Anarcho-Syndicalism. Camille Pissaro and the Occupy Movement" )

Studio Holiday Exhibition: Sat - Sun, Dec 17 - 18, Noon - 6 pm

Paintings of San Francisco, Oakland, Italy and Mexico
Archival reproductions on paper, wood and canvas / Notecards

351 Lewis Street, two blocks NW of West Oakland BART
510.836.1681    

Cafe La Boheme, Mission District Series 2016       View of the Vatican from across the Tiber 2012            

Cafe La Boheme, Mission District Series 2016       View of the Vatican from across the Tiber 2012            

The Studio Exhibition will include a large selection of paintings including the three works on this page. Many works are available as archival prints on paper, wood, or canvas at a fraction of the cost of originals.

All my friends and acquaintances are welcome, even if you just want to hang out, have a cappuccino or glass of wine and catch up on news. There's a lot to discuss this year!

Heart of the Mission # 2, 2016

Heart of the Mission # 2, 2016

"De Las Calles de Mexico a Las Calles de La Mision"


Paintings created in Mexico and the Mission District of San Francisco
 by Anthony Holdsworth.
The Juan Fuentes Gallery, 2958 24th Street
 Oct 22 - November 26

Reception: Oct 22, 6 - 8 pm.  With guest musician Francisco Herrera.

I have been painting the Mission District for the past four years. I consider these works distinct from my other California cityscapes.
 The Mission District is a window on Latin America.  When I paint here, my experience of Latin America, especially Mexico, enters the paintings.
I look forward to this opportunity to show paintings created in Mexico alongside the Mission District Series.

Above: Detail from "Un Rincon de La Plaza Grande, Patzcuaro, Michoacan Below: Detail from "On the Red Road, Balmy Alley, Mission District, San Francisco

Above: Detail from "Un Rincon de La Plaza Grande, Patzcuaro, Michoacan

Below: Detail from "On the Red Road, Balmy Alley, Mission District, San Francisco

Large Acrylic Prints and Other News

Large Archival Prints of the Kaiser Permanente Series

My solo exhibition at the SFMOMA Artists' Gallery in Fort Mason is over. The eight "Kaiser Permanente Series" paintings remain at the gallery, where they may be purchased or rented.

I am offering large, exceptionally high quality, acrylic prints on canvas of these paintings. This is possible due to the digital scans that Ben Blackwell created for the murals of these paintings that are now placed in the new Kaiser Permanente Medical Facility in Mission Bay, San Francisco.

The Bay Bridge, oil on wood, 20" X 40" one of eight views of San Francisco in the Kaiser Permanente Series.

The Bay Bridge, oil on wood, 20" X 40" one of eight views of San Francisco in the Kaiser Permanente Series.

View all the paintings in my online Gallery under "Kaiser Permanente Series"

Prints are signed, numbered and limited to editions of forty.
They are available in two sizes:
Original Size: 20" high for $ 1400
and Large:  36" high for $ 1900.
Width varies depending on the proportions of the original painting.
For example the Bay Bridge painting (above) would be either 20" X 40" or 36" X 72"

 

Last Sunday, Studio Exhibitions: 1-6 PM Oct 30, Nov 27...

. My studio is open the Last Sunday of every month from 1 pm until 6 pm or by special appointment. You will also see my current studio exhibition and may explore the inventory in the mezzanine. Expect beverages , including cappuccinos, and conversation. Visit Studio.

The Mission District Series

Who Would Jesus Bomb? # 2, 20" X 56", oil/wood panel, 2016

Who Would Jesus Bomb? # 2, 20" X 56", oil/wood panel, 2016


I am continuing my Mission District Series with more emphasis on the people of the Mission. I continue to be appalled by the way our society permits unfettered speculation to trump community. The cultural heart of our city is being eviscerated.


 The Oregon Coast

Views from Cascade Head, Oregon,  pen and ink from my sketchbook

Views from Cascade Head, Oregon,  pen and ink from my sketchbook


Our son, Mario, took Beryl Landau and I on a trip to the Oregon Coast last year. I have posted two sketches from our trip. It's a spectacular landscape and I'm considering returning to do some oil paintings.

 Nicaragua


Thirty-one years after Beryl Landau and I organized the Artists' Tour of Nicaragua '84, during the heady Sandinista period, we returned for an eight day visit.


The Nicaraguan landscape was as breathtakingly beautiful as I remembered it. The city of Granada on Lake Nicaragua was dazzling. It had shed the tired, threadbare look that it had during the long years of revolution and subsequent struggle to defend the revolution against the US backed Contras. 

Rooftops of the city of Granada                           Above the beach of Pochomil, Pacific coast

Rooftops of the city of Granada                           Above the beach of Pochomil, Pacific coast

But while it was clear that hotels and small enterprises were beginning to prosper, the heartbreaking poverty that afflicts the majority of Nicaraguans seemed as bad as ever. In place of that heady mix of euphoria and hope that animated so many Nicaraguans during the first Sandinista period the general population seemed stressed.


In Managua where I had painted, and walked late at night, without fear of crime in 84’ and 85’, my son was warned not to go out for fear of desperate young men who sniff glue and rob at knife point.

Nicaragua in the 70's and 80's

For a brief video account of my two painting trips in the 80’s take a look at the video that I made with Michael Johnson titled “From Oakland to Nicaragua" in my video section of this website. You have to scroll to the very bottom of the videos to find it!

Nina Serrano, who helped organize our Artist's Tour of Nicaragua '84, has published a novel about this period. A detail of one of my paintings "The Festival of Diriamba" is on the cover (below). Her book is available at at: http://nicaraguaway.com/