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Jimi, Janis, and Jerry
Image by Sal Maccarone.

How Art Shapes Our Lives: Jimi, Janis, & Jerry

By Sal Maccarone

It has been many, many years since I have visited the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. Known as “The Haight” to many, including myself, I found it to be remarkably frozen in time. I have actually visited twice during the month of July this year. First during my trip to preview the Peter Paul Rubens exhibit which I wrote about recently, and then two weeks later to take some pictures for this article. During my first visit on a Sunday afternoon the streets were so crowded it seemed like the 1967 “Summer of Love” all over again. We drove around for about 45 minutes just to find a parking space close by. That’s how crowded it was! After finally parking, I was fascinated to the point of vowing to return sometime soon so that I could wander freely, and really take a good look. This time I arrived early in the morning.

Image by Sal Maccarone.

For this article, I would like to deviate from my usual format, and share a little personal history about my youth growing up in the Bay Area. During the late 60’s my band, The Prophets, was privileged to play at the Fillmore Auditorium a few times for Bill Graham. We played on the same bills as some of the great bands of the time, many of which were responsible for the then burgeoning “San Francisco Sound.” When our band was not on the playbill, we were still present listening to the other bands on many of the weekends. Consequently, my friends and I spent a lot of time around the Haight. During those few years in the late 60’s, we were eye-witnesses of the scene evolving from fun, to not so fun.

Image by Sal Maccarone.

In the beginning, it was a very special time! Jerry Garcia and The Grateful Dead lived in a house at 710 Ashbury, and we would see those band members going up and down the many steps of their Victorian (pictured.) Janis Joplin lived just a few doors down from them for a while (at 635 Fillmore) so she also “hung out” in the neighborhood. Jimi Hendrix had an apartment at 1524A Haight Street very close to the corner of Haight and Ashbury. George Harrison even made a nervous visit to the Haight once in 1967 with his wife Patty Boyd. Of course, none of us thought about how iconic all of this was at the time. With the exception of George, to us, these were local musicians living close to where they worked.

 

 

 

Image by Sal Maccarone.

This section of San Francisco is one of the few that was spared during the great earthquake, and resulting fires of 1906. Consequently, some of the buildings there were actually erected during the 19th century. Between 1959 and 1966, the whole area was slated to be demolished to make room for a freeway. The property owners there were up in arms and protested the proposed road that was slated to run right through the pan-handle of Golden Gate Park. During those years property values in that area were in complete disarray. With the outcome of the freeway project up in the air, the rents became low, and that is the reason musicians and artists gravitated there. A bohemian culture became the result. Needless to say, the road proposal was defeated, and the Haight-Ashbury district survived.

Image by Sal Maccarone.

What struck me most during my recent visits, and where the art comes in, is how all of this history is preserved via the murals that are painted everywhere. Artists have gone through great lengths to keep the 60’s era alive and well. The now beautifully restored Victorian buildings are also a site to behold. Of course, today it is a total tourist trap, but from 1966 on it always has been. It is a simple fact that just about everyone who visits San Francisco wants to have a glimpse of where the counter culture of the late 1960’s had its beginnings.

Image by Sal Maccarone.

Image by Sal Maccarone.

 

Image by Sal Maccarone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sal Maccarone
salmaccarone.com
salmaccarone@gmail.com

About Sal Maccarone

Sal Maccarone is an American author, furniture maker, sculptor and kinetic artist. He is best known as a master craftsman, and for his internationally distributed woodworking books such as Tune Up Your Tools, and How to Make $40,000 a Year Woodworking, both published by F & W publications, Betterway Books, in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is also known for his woodworking technique articles published both online since 1994, and by the national magazine Popular Woodworking. He attended San Jose State University and achieved a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Art History, and in 1974 a Masters degree in sculpture. Beginning in 1997, after the publication of his first national woodworking book, he began teaching woodworking technique. Touring the country with The Woodworking Shows, a Los Angeles based trade organization, he gives three day woodworking seminars in twenty-one different US cities each year. In 2009 he began a syndicated newspaper column called, "How Art Shapes Our Lives". The column is published once each week in the California central valley, Sierra foothills, and the Yosemite area. The column is designed to help build an awareness of the fine arts and the "Bigger Picture" while pointing to something local that can be observed. In 2010 he designed and built the two wood and glass display cases which reside as part of the permanent collection in the Great Lounge of the Ahwahnee Hotel. These furniture pieces were the first new additions to grace the Great Lounge since 1927. Both matching cases are made of native California walnut and are primarily used to display the historic baskets made by the Miwok people who once lived in Yosemite Valley. In 2011 the display cases were designated as "Reserve Property" of the hotel and are now part of the United States national heritage. He has been in the business of designing and building cabinets, furniture and sculpture since 1972. His woodwork and kinetic sculpture can be viewed in many public, and private collections throughout the United States, and British Columbia. As a member of the American Institute for Conservation he has also served as a conservator of furniture for the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park, and has helped to preserve such National treasures as the three Craftsman style harvest tables which were built in 1926 by L & J.G. Stickley especially for the hotel.

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