Oct 31

Crafty Woolsey St. Cemetery Returns, Stop by Tonight

Back again, the creepiest Halloween display in the Portola has been conjured up around the little Victorian at 309 Woolsey Street.  Neighbor Larry Winum has dialed up the spook factor with more eerie lighting, rubber rates and personalized tombstones to make this year’s display the best yet..

Unlike many other Halloween displays, Larry doesn’t buy his decorations, he makes them all with found objects and a playfully weird imagination.  The resulting “Woolsey Street Cemetery” is completely dreamed up by Larry, down to the chilling candle lit woman hunched over on the front steps.

Larry will be giving out candy tonight if you would like to stop by and give the kids a scare or just check out his crafty Halloween talents. Display will be up until the rains start late this week, Happy Halloween Portola!


Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2017/10/crafty-woolsey-st-cemetery-returns-stop-tonight/

Oct 27

4 Locations, 11 Bands & Over 20 Artists: Open Studios Comes To The Portola

Portola Art Fest & Open Studios At Frame Art

Local artists Lisa Balsamo Magrudedr and Arthur Koch have been working with Art Span to get Portola on the Open Studios map and have pulled off quite an event this year. Teaming up with the Ukrainian Hall across the street from their studio space, they are hosting a two-day event in the neighborhood that will feature 10 live bands and a wide variety of art and handmade crafts. It all starts this Friday with no entrance fee but donations will be welcome when they pass the hat for the bands. See all the details in the flyer below:

When: Friday (10/27), tonight) 5pm-9pm & Saturday (10/28) 11am-6pm

Where: Portola Art Fest @ The Ukrainian Hall 100 Brussels Street and Open Studios at Frame Art Studio 150 Silliman St,  Both locations are at the intersection of Silliman & Brussels so you can attend both.

Why:  Support art and Portola artists!

Open Studios At Phillip Hua’s & Ferment Drink Repeat Brewery

Portola artist Phillip Hua will also have an open studio at his home at 360 Sought Street from 11am-6pm this Saturday and Sunday.  Phillip designed the popular Portola t-shirt and he will be selling them at his open studio.

Ferment Drink Repeat Brewery will also be hosting work from artist Andrea Berger and Irene Schlesinger.  F.D.R. is at 2636 San Bruno Ave and the official open studios portion is Saturday from 11am to 6pm and live music will begin at 7pm.  A 5 piece garage rock band called “The Basementals”.


Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2017/10/4-locations-11-bands-20-artists-open-studios-comes-portola/

Oct 25

Halloween Themed P.N.A. Community Open House Thursday

Kill two birds with one stone by bringing the family down to the Portola Neighborhood Association’s Community Open House where you can learn more about what’s happening in the neighborhood and the kids can trick or treat at the various tables.  All the details straight from the P.N.A. below and be sure to sign up for the P.N.A. newsletter by clicking here:


Thursday night from 6:30 – 8:30pm we have our Fall Community Meeting, which will be open house format. Better yet, it will be a Halloween Community Open House! That means that all of our favorite Portola organizations & City agencies will be there (in costume!) to chat with you about what’s going on in the hood. This is a great opportunity to bring out the family and get to know some of the folks who are invested in improving our neighborhood!


Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2017/10/halloween-themed-p-n-community-open-house-thursday/

Oct 20

Much To Do This Saturday In McLaren Park

After a taste of fall with last night’s drizzle and howling wind, we are heading into a warming trend that starts tomorrow. To help enjoy the last little bit of San Francisco summer, we have a number of events happening this weekend in McLaren Park for you to enjoy.

McLaren Bike Park Grand Opening

McLaren Bike Park Opening on October 21
Strap on your helmets! You’re invited  to the opening of San Francisco’s first bike park, McLaren Bike Park, on Saturday, October 21 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The brand new park is located in McLaren Park at 2050 Sunnydale Avenue, next to Gleneagles Golf Course. The event will feature a ribbon cutting, pump-style bike competition, kids’ races, food, raffles, bike demos and more! For more information, click here.

Metal Fest At The Amp

Saturday in the Park: McLaren Park Metal Music Festival on October 21

On Saturday, October 21 check out the final show for Saturday in the Park series this year! The McLaren Park Metal Music Festival will feature old school metal bands Ancient Mariner, Hammerdown and AC/DZ. Join us from 12 to 4 p.m. at the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater in McLaren Park (off of John F. Shelley Drive near Cambridge Street).

For more information, click here or call (415) 413-7501 

A free family friendly event!

Guided Hike Through The Park

Healthy Parks, Healthy People Trail Walk at McLaren Park on October 21
Free Guided Trail Hike with Healthy Parks, Healthy People
McLaren Park at University & Mansell
10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Meet by the McLaren Park sign
Explore nature, enliven your spirit, and bring a smile to share with new friends. This nature walk starts with light stretching, followed by a guided walk through the park’s broad grassy hills in search of squirrels, raptors, wildflowers, groves of redwoods and beautiful views!
Let’s Get Out & Play!
For a more enjoyable walk remember to dress comfortably, wear walking shoes, bring water and use sun protection. Please check local weather forecasts – Trail Walks will be canceled due to rain or unsafe conditions. For more information, contact Lisa McHenry here.

Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2017/10/much-saturday-mclaren-park/

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/

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