San Francisco, California

Although both locales attract global travelers, one could never mistake a walk along the four miles of San Francisco’s Ocean Beach on an August afternoon for a morning stroll next to the dunes of Miami’s South Beach in July. The brisk breeze, overcast sky, and wind-whipped waves of the Pacific Ocean contrast sharply with the blazing heat, diamond blue horizon, and sparkling waters of the North Atlantic. In Miami, one finds a sensation of arrival, of settled repose and personal security. San Francisco confronts with the possibilities of challenge, risk, and adventure. Metaphorically, one needs little clothing for protection on Southern Florida’s shores, while sweat shirts and bonfires may provide at least psychological comfort on the beach sands of Northern California.

• • •

The culture of the Ming dynasty, spanning the years from 1368 to 1644, is the subject of Power and Glory: Court Arts of China’s Ming Dynasty, an exhibit running through Sept. 21 at the Asian Art Museum. More than 200 treasures from the old Southern capital of Nanjing and the Northern capital of Beijing include porcelain objects, ink and colors on silks and papers, garments, and jewelry.

• • •

The year 2008 marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the San Francisco Ballet, the oldest professional ballet company in America. Its 2007 operating budget of $38 million also makes it one of the largest. Russell Hartley, one of the company’s designers, created the costumes for the country’s first, full-length Nutcracker in 1944 and, in 1947, founded the Museum of Performance & Design. The museum’s exhibit, Art & Artifice: 75 Years of Design at San Francisco Ballet, runs through Aug. 30, featuring original sketches for sets and costumes, set models, costumes and accessories, photos, programs, and videos.

• • •

Visual Aid, an organization that assists and encourages Bay Area artists with life-threatening illnesses to continue their creative work, is presenting TREASURE, a solo exhibition by Jerry Lee Frost, through Sept. 11. The exhibit features 13 of Frost’s abstract, oil-on-canvas paintings from 2007 and 2008, at the San Francisco LGBT Community Center, 1800 Market Street.

• • •

The Hotel Union Square, 114 Powell Street, offers many perks: windows that open, free phone calls, free internet access, free newspapers, free morning coffee, and free California wines at afternoon happy hour. Its unadvertised and better-kept secrets include regular cable car runs and a constantly surging sea of world travelers viewed from its second floor windows. The chaos generates many gem-like surprises, such as a perfectly harmonized, sidewalk serenade of Down by the Riverside by an un-miked male quartet, delivered on a gloriously balmy Sunday afternoon!

• • •

Most evenings, singing along with an international assemblage can be done downstairs at Foley’s, 243 O’Farrell Street, where dudes Chris and Jerry hold court and take requests with their dueling pianos.

Advertisements