Oct 17

Bernal Hill Is Sending Us A Message

“DREAM” as seem from San Bruno Ave.


You may have caught a new sparkly addition to the view north on San Bruno Ave over the last couple of weeks. Artist Ana Teresa Fernandez has created the inspirational message of “DREAM” in giant letters made of small glittery disks and aimed it straight at the Portola – perhaps the freeways too.  Either way, the “HOLLYWOOD” sign inspired piece is perfectly aligned with San Bruno and the message appears to be reaching the Portola judging by the emails we have received.

The installation came to fruition through a collaboration with the artist and the Yerba Burma Center for the Arts. The press release below explains the idea behind the installation and the significance of the location.  Visibility from the Portola was actually an intentional factor in its placement, that’s not just typical; Portola Planet hot air, although they mistakenly refer to us as the “Excelsior” despite our own giant sign.


Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) announced today the upcoming unveiling of DREAM, a public art installation by visual artist Ana Teresa Fernández, commissioned by YBCA and co-sponsored by San Francisco Public Works. Facing San Francisco’s Excelsior District, the sculpture will serve as a public expression of YBCA’s ongoing partnership with the area. Composed of ten-foot-high block letters spelling out the word DREAM, the shimmering sculpture will be situated on the hill above the Alemany Food Market and will be seen by commuters going to and from San Francisco at the Highway 101-Highway 280 merge.
A public unveiling of the sculpture will be held on Friday, September 22, 2017, 11 am–1 pm at the Alemany Farmer’s Market, located at 100 Alemany Blvd. The event will feature performances by students from Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School and Bessie Carmichael Elementary, where YBCA has provided civically engaged arts education programs since 2015. […]
Two years in the making, the DREAM sculpture is located less than a mile from Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School and will be installed near the intersection of the unimproved streets of Jarboe and Peralta. The sculpture, spelling out the word DREAM, is attached to a support system on the south side of Bernal Heights facing Bayshore Blvd. its facade consists of metallic disks that create a visual effect of three-dimensional shimmering water.
Explains artist Ana Teresa Fernández, “At Bayshore hill, and beneath two heavily transited freeway overpasses, sits an industrial building whose bottom half is entirely upholstered by graffiti tags that spell out the word DREAM. This graffiti is a creative epitaph to one of the best-known and most beloved graffiti writers and peace fighters from the Bay Area, Mike “Dream” Francisco of Oakland, who was killed in the year 2000. I was inspired to take the text and create a three-dimensional version higher up on the hill, like the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles. Instead of casting your hopes on fame or notoriety, this would be a sign to compel individuals—not just the widely mixed-race population that inhabits and transits through this area, but all individuals who come across it—to start identifying their goals and aspirations, from a place of consciousness and awareness, and to begin the process of pursuing them.”

Photo credit to Bernalwood

Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2017/10/bernal-hill-sending-us-message/

Oct 15

San Francisco’s Other Bluegrass Festival Is Today In McLaren

Missed Hardly Strictly or just didn’t get enough of it last weekend? Well this McLaren Park concert is just the ticket – free ticket at that – to solve all of those problems.  We are told that the headliner for this show played at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass last week so take advantage of this opportunity to experience the music without the insane crowds.

All The Details

When: This Sunday!….October 15th, starting at Noon 
Where: Jerry Garcia Amphitheater in McLaren Park
How Much? FREE–5 great bands with non-stop music.
All The Rest:  Plenty of FREE parking–don’t miss it.
Bring a picnic lunch or purchase food from local food vendors.

For more info check out the Facebook page
for Saturday in the Park – McLaren or the WildeWhere? website

Read our past coverage of the WildeWhere concert series

Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2017/10/san-franciscos-blue-grass-festival-today-mclaren/

Oct 13

The Jewel Is Back In The Crown – Avenue Theater Facade Sparks Back To Life

The Event

A diamond in the rough, the Avenue Theater has finally received some of the polishing it deserves, returning it to a position of prominence and community pride.  In a large celebration put on by the Portola Neighborhood Association in September, Mayor Ed Lee and community representatives involved in the project, flipped a giant electrical switch, marking a new beginning for Portola’s historic movie palace.  The crowd of over 200 people filled the Bank Of The West parking lot as the Mayor and Supervisor Hillary Ronen spoke about the importance of the space and the city’s intention to help return it to a functioning arts venue for San Francisco.



When the sun finally set over San Bruno and the speeches came to a close, a countdown signaled the moment that the iconic old sign buzzed back to life with cheers and celebration from the crowd.  For the first time in over 30 years, the sign was switched on for daily use, now appearing nightly at dusk, 365 days a year.  As part of the agreement with the city, the owner will be paying the electric bill for the next 5 years bringing new life to the street and hopefully attracting a new tenant..


It was a special night for the community, and as a surprise to some of us, for the Theater’s owners who haven’t been particularly present during their ownership of the space.  Luke Spray (S.B.A. Corridor Manager) mentioned to us that the owners were impressed and frankly, a bit surprised, by the enthusiasm and diversity of the crowd that evening.  Like much of the community, they had never seen the sign lit until that evening and in reaction to the festive vibe of the event, they made an impromptu decision to open the Theater space for the night.  The crowd was given free rein of the Theater including the projectionist’s booth and under the stage, we will share some of those pictures in an upcoming post.

“The Ave”, the jewel of the Portola

The Ave Jewel

The Avenue Theater project would not and could not have happened without the Portola community standing up together in order to stop bad redevelopment plans – like when it almost became a CVS – and to lobby city officials into taking action to restore this important community asset.  In recognition of those efforts, a small addition was made to the marquee that makes the crown jewel metaphor a bit more literal.  Created by the neon artist and placed in a prominent but blank panel, is a neon jewel with the theater’s longtime neighborhood nickname, “The Ave” in a radiant pink.  A subtle recognition of our community spirit and what it can achieve. A quality not going unnoticed by larger publications such as the San Francisco Chronical which published a flattering article about the event, San Bruno Ave. and the Portola.


San Bruno Avenue and more broadly the Portola district, known as San Francisco’s Garden District, is experiencing a level of interest not seen since the corridor went into decline in the 1970s. – The San Francisco Chronicle

So What;s Next?

Finding a new tenant for the space is the next hurdle for the community and the owner – something that we all agree on.  The performance space is fully in tact but needs work to bring it up to code.  The chances of a movie theater coming back to the space are slim, it’s a single screen and movie theaters in general are on the decline with technology allowing streaming at home.  That said, live performance spaces of this size are in hot demand. Musicians are wanting more interesting venues to perform in and with the seats removed, the Avenue could hold upwards of 1,000 people. The P.N.A.’s corridor manager, Luke Spray, is giving tours of the space to different arts and performance groups interested in learning more about the venue so there is an interest – fingers crossed.


 In the meantime though, you can walk down to the old Johnson’s BBQ to see a display of the theater’s history posted on the windows and created by the neighbor behind the Renew The Avenue FB page, Elisa Laird-Metke.  While there, you may notice some work going on in the long shuttered space.   An exciting new business may be joining the street’s renaissance but I won’t jinx it by spilling the beans here until it’s a done deal.


Event Photo Gallery


Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2017/10/jewel-back-crown-avenue-theater-facade-sparks-back-life/

Oct 05

Portola’s Creative Green Thumb On Display

Tour participants stop for a photo in Jeanette Wright’s back yard on Goettigen Street.

Last Saturday was our yearly opportunity to explore some of the hidden spaces tucked behind the unassuming homes of the Garden District. Following its big 10th anniversary last year, the 11th annual was a bit less formal in organization but still full of surprising spaces and creative gardening.

Thank You

None of this would be possible without the dedication of Ruth Wallace and all18 of the neighborhood gardeners who work for months putting the event together.. The Portola Garden District Tour is a grassroots community led effort that has helped to revive the Garden District identity by opening homes and brining people together to create a community around gardening.  Plus, some of the gardens serve wine with the view and who doesn’t like that?

Portola’s gardeners show off their backyard art


Gallery Of Gardens

Thanks Arthur, Darlene and Floyd for shots!

Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2017/10/portolas-creative-green-thumb-display/

Oct 02

Love Is In The Air

If you were lucky enough to catch it yesterday around 4:15 pm., hearts were being drawn in the sky over the Portola. Captured by a neighbor on Dwight street and reported by folks at the Hamlet show in McLaren Park, we do not know the motivation behind the brief aerial display of love but it appears to have brightened a lot of afternoons around the neighborhood.  Thanks to whomever created it.

Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2017/10/love-is-in-the-air/

Sep 29

Backyard To Bar – Portola Gardeners Grow Hops For Hyper Local Brew

A new spin on “farm to table” is happening right here in the Portola with F.D.R.‘s newest brew, “Hyper-Local Fresh Hop Ale.” Brewery owners, Kevin & Shae Inglin, teamed up with Ruth Wallace who runs the Portola Garden District Tour, to create this unique twist on the locally sourced food movement. Ruth tapped into her deep ties with local gardeners and was able to find over 20 gardeners here in the Portola excited to help in the project. Hop rhizomes were given to the neighborhood gardeners back in March and the group created an email list for sharing tips, photos and progress. Hop rhizomes often take the first year to get established so the yield for the inaugural harvest was smaller at 10 lbs of buds.  Enough though to produce 4 barrels (8 kegs) of the Hyper-Local which was formulated by Kevin, the brewmaster at F.D.R.  Kevin tells us that predominant flavor in an Pale Ale comes from the green hops, so what you taste in the beer is pure Garden District goodness.

The Beer is on top right now at F.D.R. while it lasts.  It will also be the featured drink at the Portola Garden Tour after party, being held this Saturday at F.D.R. Cheers!

Gallery Of Portola Gardener’s Hip Vines

Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2017/09/backyard-bar-portola-gardeners-grow-hops-local-brew/

Sep 27

Live Performances Of Hamlet In McLaren Park This Weekend

SF Shakes Presents Hamlet

September 23-24, 29–30 & October 1st, See Times Below

McLaren Park Jerry Garcia Amphitheater

The Details:

Returning for the 5th year, SF Shakes returns to the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater to present Shakespeare’s famous tragedy Hamlet, which speaks strongly about disenfranchisement in the questionable succession of King Claudius to the throne of Denmark over his nephew Prince Hamlet.

For 2 successive weekends, plus a Friday afternoon student performance, you have the opportunity to enjoy a free performance of one of Shakespeare’s historic tragedies.

Mark your calendars for 2PM performances at the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater on Saturday and Sunday September 23-24 and October 1. A Friday performance scheduled for students to attend is September 29th at 10AM.

These weekend performances fill all the bench seats and the grassy hillside so come early, find a spot and enjoy the free professional stage work by SFShakes.

For more information, go to WWW.sfshakes.org.

Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2017/09/live-performances-hamlet-mclaren-park-weekend/

Sep 27

11th Annual Portola Garden District Tour Saturday

It’s that time of the year again.  Get a peek into all the hidden spaces and meet some of your neighbors here in San Francisco’s Garden District.  This year’s event has been simplified so no tickets needed but donations are accepted at each garden site.  All the essential info:

Why: Get a peek into private spaces, meet your neighbors and support a good cause!  Proceeds go to fund a Garden District scholarship fund at City College.

When:  Saturday September 30th, Gardens open at varying timers for viewing, with 10am-2pm being the sweet spot for the most open but please check specific garden times here.  Head over to Ferment Drink Repeat, 2636 San Bruno Ave, for the after party. .

Where:  Tour is self guided, check for addresses by clicking here and use your smart phone map to guide around the neighborhood.

What To Expect:  Check out our past in depth cover with photos of the 2015 tour by clicking here.

All The Details


Once home to flower-growing enterprises and farms, The Portola is known as San Francisco’s Garden District. The garden tour is a self-guided walk through private and public gardens in the sunny Portola neighborhood in San Francisco’s southeastern quadrant. It’s also a fundraiser for City College horticulture students.

Participants will learn about what plants thrive in San Francisco, how to make even small spaces outstanding, ideas for decks and patios and fun landscaping tips — and get inspired to work on their own back yard. It’s a wonderful community building experience as neighbors open their yards to scores of tour participants.

This year the tour features a community “after-party” at local brewery Ferment, Drink, Repeat on San Bruno Avenue. Neighborhood Portola gardeners have been growing hops and will celebrate and taste the truly locally-made brew at the close of the tour.

Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2017/09/11th-annual-portola-garden-district-tour-saturday/

Older posts «