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New SF Heritage Artist-in-Residence Mark Dean Veca to Unveil ‘Ornamental Illness’ Exhibition in May 2022


Mark Dean Veca, 76, 2022
One-color screen print on Coventry rag vellum 320gsm, 53 x 39.5”, edition of 10

Mark Dean Veca: Ornamental Illness

May 7 through May 29, 2022
San Francisco Heritage’s Pop-Up Gallery
1506 Haight Street near Ashbury Street

Exhibition Schedule: May 7 – May 29, 2022
Wednesday-Sunday, 12:00 – 6:00 PM
Opening Reception: Saturday, May 7, 5:00 – 8:00 PM
Conversation with the artist and curator Renny Pritikin: Saturday, May 14, 3:00 – 4:00 PM

Mark Dean Veca. Photo by Robbie Jeffers.

San Francisco Heritage is pleased to announce artist Mark Dean Veca as our next artist-in-residence in the Haight-Ashbury. Veca’s time at SF Heritage’s historic Doolan-Larson Building starts in May 2022, where he will host a pop-up exhibition and create new drawings and paintings inspired by the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood’s past and present.

“I’m so grateful to receive this unique privilege- this gift of time and space to live and work as an Artist-in-Residence at San Francisco Heritage’s Doolan-Larson Building,” said Veca. “I look forward to immersing myself in the history of Haight-Ashbury and filtering it through my own artistic sensibility to create something new, that would never have emerged from my own studio.”

Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, for over thirty years Veca has produced murals, paintings, drawings, installations, sculptures, prints, designs, and other sundry inventions. In the essay “Mark Dean Veca: Life|Drawing,” art critic, author, and curator Shana Nys Dambrot summed up Veca’s artistic repertoire:

“Along the way, he has experimented with a range of visual styles from the loose and abstract to the obsessive and meticulous; mastering the power of the confident line and discovering the patience required for meticulous detail and the bravado for a super-saturated palette. And though the scale and scope of his work have expanded toward the operatic, his process has never been more intimate. An omnivorous observer of visual culture equally versed in Mad Magazine and Modernist theory, the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers and French Regency, R. Crumb and Ed Ruscha, Mark Dean Veca’s art truly is the sum of its paradoxical parts and his particular gift lies in making gorgeous, giddy, glorious sense of those paradoxes.”

During his time as artist-in-residence, Veca will run a concurrent exhibition at SF Heritage’s Pop-Up Gallery, located at 1506 Haight Street on the groundfloor storefronts of the Doolan-Larson Building. Mark Dean Veca: Ornamental Illness will open May 7, 2022, and will be on view through May 29, 2022. The exhibition will feature a new suite of screen-printed editions originally created during a residency at The Space Program in San Francisco late last year. Veca will also host an artist talk on May 14 with Renny Pritkin, former curator at the Contemporary Jewish Museum.

“I look forward to immersing myself in the history of Haight-Ashbury and filtering it through my own artistic sensibility to create something new, that would never have emerged from my own studio.” – Mark Dean Veca

San Francisco Heritage first launched its pilot artist-in-residency program in the fall of 2020 with visual artist Jeremy Fish, and has since hosted musicians, choreographers, non-profit organizations, and journalists.

“We are honored to be hosting Mark Dean Veca as part of our new Artist-in-Residence program, which invites artists and activists to take inspiration from our mission—to preserve and enhance San Francisco’s unique architectural and cultural identity—during a residency at Haight and Ashbury with its echoes of the counterculture,” said Karalyn Monteil, President & CEO of San Francisco Heritage. “We are especially looking forward to his exhibition and artist talk with curator Renny Pritikin in our pop-up gallery space at 1506 Haight Street,” she added.

To read more about Veca and his new edition of screenprints, visit his website.

The Old Clam House to Reopen Under New Ownership


The Old Clam House.

🎉 After remaining shuttered for two years following March 2020’s shutdown, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Old Clam House (299 Bayshore Boulevard), which has been around for over 100 years, is set to reopen under new ownership in early May. Its future was uncertain when it went up for sale one year ago, in addition to being shuttered since March’s 2020 shutdown.

An “opening soon” sign was spotted in the windows and it turns out the restaurant was purchased by the family behind North Beach restaurant, Mona Lisa. The new owners told the Chronicle they plan to keep things mostly the same, including the decor and name; the menu itself will also largely remain intact, but with the possible addition of some pasta dishes.

Contrary to popular reports, the Old Clam House may not date back to the 1860s, but its legacy does extend over 100 years. Located at 299 Bayshore Boulevard, its building dates to 1900, at a time when the immediate surroundings included Islais Creek. When the restaurant opened, it was Initially named “The Oakdale Bar & Clam House,” and served seafood to neighbors, sailors and longshoremen who contributed to San Francisco’s successful fishing industry. In the wake of the 1906 earthquake and subsequent construction, the creek was filled in, with nearly 100 buildings built throughout the neighborhood. Even as its surroundings have evolved, the Old Clam House has maintained its unique historical identity.

The Old Clam House in 2020. SF Heritage photo.

The Oakdale Bar (now known as The Old Clam House) circa 1918, Charles Yeager Prop. Victory Liberty Loan sign in window (World War I)  (OpenSFHistory / wnp30.0349)

The restaurant does not currently have city landmark or legacy business status. We encourage Supervisor Shamann Walton to support either/both to afford this legacy spot some extra protections as it begins its next chapter!

Register for Market Street: A Collaboration of Modern Design Masters


Title: Market Street: A Collaboration of Modern Design Masters
When: Tuesday, April 26, 2022, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

Hosted by the California Preservation Foundation, Market Street: A Collaboration of Modern Design Masters will be a virtual tour and panel discussion that highlights the critical role of Market Street, which has served as downtown San Francisco’s primary commercial corridor and transportation artery for over 150 years. The event pays particular tribute to the Market Street Redevelopment Plan design (1968-1979), an ambitious Modernist streetscape improvement project that involved three master postwar Bay Area designers: architects Mario J. Ciampi and John Carl Warnecke, and landscape architect Lawrence Halprin.

SF Heritage’s VP of Advocacy and Programs, Woody LaBounty, will join a panel of speakers including Hannah Simonson, Associate, Cultural Resources Planner, Page & Turnbull, Jon Rusch, Senior Historic Preservation Specialist, ICF, and Gretchen Hilyard Boyce, founder of Groundwork Planning & Preservation.

Read more about the program and register below:

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Community Voices: Preserving Chinese Culture in the Sunset


Lily Wong

Kelly Ng

BY LILY WONG and KELLY NG with Wah Mei School

Lily Wong is the Director of Community Engagement at Wah Mei School. Lily is a first-generation San Francisco native and immigrant from Hong Kong. She grew up in a working class household, in a San Francisco that was full of diversity. For over two decades, Lily has been committed to advancing the power of historically marginalized communities. Her range of experience includes youth empowerment, immigration, workforce development, affordable housing, and land use/CEQA processes. Kelly Ng is the Development Director at Wah Mei School, where she takes great pride in promoting the work of an organization that provides bilingual education and programs accessible to the community with no barriers to income, language, or culture. Her love of stories comes from a life of immigrant journeys and appreciation for the here and now.

What is the Sunset Chinese Cultural District (SCCD), and what is its vision?

The Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to establish the Sunset Chinese Cultural District in July 2021. Cultural districts are a formalized, collaborative partnership between the city and communities, providing resources to assist in stabilizing vulnerable communities at risk of displacement or gentrification. The SCCD will preserve the authenticity and cultural richness of the Sunset neighborhood of working-class families and seniors, as well as enhance its cultural assets and unique character. This neighborhood’s distinct identity holds historical, social, and political significance for the Chinese American community and the city of San Francisco overall.

The Sunset is a community where families grow up, where seniors grow old, and where intergenerational roots of each can spread widely amidst the chaos of a bustling city. It is our vision to preserve the rich culture of opportunity and growth that is vital to each generation of immigrants who call the Sunset their home.

Students at Wah Mei School’s Weekend Program. Courtesy of Wah Mei School. 

What form does preservation take in that framework?

Wah Mei School is thrilled to join forces with the city and Sunset community partners to embark on this historic path to preserve and enhance cultural assets, neighborhood character, identity, and diversity, and develop innovative strategies for survival and sustainability.

With gentrification and displacement relentlessly encroaching, the Sunset community has a precious opportunity to counteract these forces and enable our economic recovery while helping to ensure that neighborhood businesses and nonprofits can continue to thrive and contribute to our city’s unique cultural and economic vitality. As part of the citywide Cultural District program, the SCCD will be tasked with completing a Cultural History, Housing, and Economic Sustainability Strategies (CHHESS) Report. This report provides a blueprint for the cultural district, including needs and strategies to address those needs. Priority needs include affordable childcare and housing, small-business support, providing culturally-responsive services, and countering the rise in violence towards the Asian community. We envision the strategies to include: economic development through small business support, convening community events that bring community members together, creating community gathering spaces, embedding art throughout the district to promote a sense of neighborhood cohesiveness, and developing an intergenerational
housing strategy. We believe that by identifying and representing the broad spectrum of characteristics that make up this community, we can, only then, begin to authentically represent this district’s rich culture.

Lily Wong (left) with representatives from the Sunset Chinese Cultural District working group and Supervisor Gordon Mar on February 6, 2022. SF Heritage photo. 

In 2019, Wah Mei School was added to San Francisco’s Legacy Business Registry, in recognition of its longtime contributions to the city’s — and particularly the Sunset’s — cultural landscape. Tell us a little about its history and how you have adapted during the pandemic.

Wah Mei School is a significant part of the fabric and history of the local Sunset District community. Wah Mei 華美 means “ChineseAmerica” and is appropriate as we are one of the first bilingual schools in San Francisco and are deeply rooted in the Asian American community. Our organization was born out of the Chinese American civil rights movement. The 1974 landmark Lau vs. Nichols case, which legalized bilingual education, prompted a group of community activists, bilingual educators, and parents to breathe life into what is now known as the Wah Mei School, paving a way for bilingual-bicultural education in public schools.

Wah Mei School’s present location at 1400 Judah Street is the original Calvary United Methodist Church, built in 1908. [Methodist Church on west side of 19th Avenue, north of Judah Street] San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection, San Francisco Public Library

Wah Mei School is honored to be distinguished as a San Francisco legacy business and a cultural anchor that has served generations of families for over 48 years. Our unique mix of language, culture, and high quality early care and education keeps us thriving, over four decades and through the pandemic. We are committed to serving all children, youth, and families across a diverse socioeconomic and cultural spectrum.

When the pandemic began, Wah Mei School and its staff were quick to pivot and reshape our programming to meet the many challenges of Covid-19. When the first shelter-in-place order went into effect for San Francisco in March 2020, Wah Mei School closed all programs. We reopened nine days later as an Emergency Child Care program, immediately serving children of essential service workers who needed a safe place to learn and grow while their parents keep our city moving.

During San Francisco’s 18-month systemwide school closures, we pivoted our after-school programs to provide full-day, in-person hubs to support distance learning and social-emotional enrichment activities for students. This year, Wah Mei School is pleased to provide the first public Covid-19 testing sites in the Sunset. With the recent Omicron surge, demand for Covid-19 tests also skyrocketed and made it difficult for our community to get tested. We’re proud to offer testing that is available free to the community at two locations in the Sunset, at our program site on 19th Avenue and Judah and Alice Fong Yu School on 12th Avenue and Kirkham. More information is available at http://www.wahmei.org/covid-testing/.

What are some of the other longtime businesses that contribute to the rich history of the Chinese in the Sunset?

We are thrilled that there has been such strong support for the Sunset Chinese Cultural District! Wah Mei School is partnering with District 4 Supervisor Gordon Mar as well as citywide and local organizations including: Self Help for the Elderly, ASIAN, Inc., SF Heritage, People of Parkside Sunset, NEMS, Sunset Mercantile, Great Wall Hardware, and the Chinese Historical Society of America on a collaborative effort to establish and build the Sunset Chinese Cultural District.

What are the next steps for the cultural district?

As the Sunset Chinese Cultural District ramps up, we will create the structure and develop the CHHESS report, as mentioned previously. We’ll build an advisory board and will look to our current working group membership and other Sunset neighbors and organizations to help make the SCCD meaningful for our community.

If you’re interested in staying up to date and getting involved, please sign up for Wah Mei’s listserv at https://tinyurl.com/wahmeinews.