Eucalyptus at Dusk

GGP Eucalyptus at dusk

Pastel on Paper, 10 x 13, by Heath Massey

One of my favorite times to walk in Golden Gate Park is at dusk.  The great, old trees stand tall, silhouetted against the sky, each one uniquely contorted and top-heavy in a delicate balancing act compensating for limbs lopped off over the years by storms and gardeners.  I imagine their roots digging into the sandy soil and gripping like toes in a mighty effort to stay erect.  Tree pose.

Eucalyptus are particularly graceful, I think.  Their foliage, delicate and feathery, drapes downward, catching the slightest breeze.  Their bark peels off in shaggy ribbons, revealing smooth pink and blue streaks spiraling around massive trunks.  Thank goodness for these hardy, adaptable immigrants who have rooted here, so far from Australia where the species originates.  They are truly the backbone of the park’s urban forest.

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Flower Piano Returns to the SF Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park


“Back for its third consecutive year, Flower Piano invites visitors to experience a special 12–day long, spontaneous community event. Beginning July 13 and running through July 24, anyone can play on the 12 pianos that will be placed at dramatic, picturesque locations throughout the San Francisco Botanical Garden’s 55 acres of greenery. The pianos are available to play between 9am and 6pm every day, except during scheduled performances. Flower Piano is made possible through a collaboration with Sunset Piano, a multi-disciplinary group artists who promote piano culture. Pianos are out in the open, free to view or play, following regular admission to the Garden (which is free for members and San Francisco residents with proof of residency and costs $8 for non-resident adults).”

Source: Flower Piano Returns to the SF Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park – SF Station – San Francisco’s City Guide

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Groovy ‘Phototaxis’ Adds Fuel To San Francisco’s Summer Of Love Celebration | HuffPost

Illuminate, which was vital in giving birth to The Bay Lights in San Francisco, rallied with creative dynamo Obscura, San Francisco Parks Alliance and San Francisco Recreation and Parks to launch Illumination.

San Franciscans have never been known to hold back from artistic expression or for being valiant crusaders of civil rights for that matter. However something truly groovy emerged this month in Golden Gate Park to honor the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love and it is turning heads near and far. Illuminate, the stellar enterprise that brought The Bay Lights to life, has been the catalyst for bringing the power of light to the beloved Conservatory of Flowers all summer long. Working closely with creative tech titans Obscura Digital, and the San Francisco Recreation and Parks, the Californian Historical Society, and the Conservatory of Flowers, the bold endeavor—wonderfully dubbed “Illumination”—is one-part celebration, one-part breathtaking, large-scale light-based public art installation. It uses gobo projectors to transform the all-white landmark with a series of vibrantly illuminated scenes inspired by the rare tropical flowers, which have become the legacy of San Francisco’s beloved flower children. Flower Power indeed.

Feel the love and read on …

The Summer of Love, for the few humans who may be oblivious to important historic moments that shaped a generation, was the social phenomenon that unfolded during the summer of 1967. Nearly 100,000 people—mostly young folks adorned in hippie fashions and whose love-inspired acts were emotionally juicy if not memorable—converged in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. The 2017 celebration began with a Summer Solstice kick-off event that attracted nearly 20,000 people—members of Jefferson Airplane, and the groups Big Brother and the Holding Company, among others, were on hand and that “All You Need Is Love” sing-a-long was a hit. And when the Conservatory was lit up, cheers erupted from the crowd.

Catch the sumptous visual showcase at dusk, continuing to run every 30 minutes beginning at the top of every hour and 30-minute mark. But things continue to blossom. On Friday, June 30, along comes Phototaxis: Free Friday Night at the Conservatory of Flowers. San Francisco Recreation and Parks has given Illuminate access to the Conservatory after-hours. The facility, which typically closes at 6 p.m., reopens a half-hour later. From 6:30-8:30 p.m., patrons who wear flowers in their hair—in the spirit of The Summer of Love, of course—will be admitted for free (“lovingly”) into the portal. (Take note, love child: space is limited.) “It’s poetic, generous, playful,” muses Ben Davis, Founder, President and CEO of Illuminate, whose mission to “rally large groups of people together to create impossible works of public art that, through awe, free humanity’s better nature,” is clearly succeeding.

In addition to Phototaxis, there’s also “B.” Check this out: Patrons are invited to another one-of-a-kind experience in the Conservatory valley tunnel, near the Conservatory on Kennedy Drive. There, at varying intervals, people will enter the tunnel where volunteers will assist them with lighting candles. Or, as Davis, notes: “lighting old flames, new flames, or eternal flames in honor of The Summer of Love.” The experiential public art work will also allow individuals to strike handmade chimes.  “The idea is that we can gather, make noises together in the tunnel that have to do with the process of ritual,” Davis explains. “The ritual of intention and love, the ritual of candle lighting, the ritual of chime-ringing, and the ritual of chanting … to really cleanse the spiritual palate and then walk out, and into the Conservatory of Flowers.”  “B” occurs every Friday night during The Summer of Love celebration.

In the meantime, illumination always happens whenever you get Davis talking about his many creative ideas. The man is an intrepid if not fierce creative midwife to the births of mesmerizing works of public art. “Illumination” emerged after Davis spent many years cycling over the Golden Gate Bridge. His route home always included a pathway through Golden Gate Park.  “For years, I’ve been amazed at the irresistible beauty of the Conservatory of Flowers, this 1879 structure, which is white-washed in defense of the sun burning the plants inside,” he says. “Ever since The Bay Lights, I have been seeing the world as a potential canvas, and this building looked like a canvas to me.”

Less than a year ago, it “hit” him.  Davis realized he was friends with some of the creatives involved in Obscura Digital, which has been producing world-class works around the globe in terms of illumination. The organization lit the Vatican, the City Opera House, The Empire State Building, and The UN building in New York City, among others.  “I realized we had this extraordinary talent right here in our own backyard, “ Davis adds. “And I have been looking for excuses to work with Phil Ginsburg, the General Manager of San Francisco Recreation and Parks.”  He called an informal meeting between talents, but the potential project really caught on just four months ago when all parties decided to “go for it.”

“We hit the equivalent of breaking the 4-minute mile in terms of getting the city’s permission,” Davis notes. “We had suddenly pulled together not just the artwork itself and the installation, but there was a concert for 20,000 people on Summer Solstice, that was generously donated. What an exquisite night.”What an exquisite idea.In an era where the inertia from media and politics is undeniably strong and continues to potentially distract humanity from, well, its humanity, it is refreshing to see Davis, Obscura Digital, the Conservatory of Flowers et al emerge as incandescent agents of change, capable of inspiring the world through the most powerful and reliable force of nature of all: Love.

Source: Groovy ‘Phototaxis’ Adds Fuel To San Francisco’s Summer Of Love Celebration | HuffPost

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Whoa Nelly! Horses go on joy ride in SF’s Golden Gate Park – San Francisco Chronicle

horseNearly two dozen horses escaped from a stable and hoofed it through Golden Gate Park in San Francisco early Wednesday, sending park rangers on an impromptu roundup. Twenty-three horses bolted about 5 a.m. from a corral at the Bercut Equitation Field in Golden Gate Park and galloped through the city’s sprawling green space, said Connie Chan, a spokeswoman with the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department. Stable hands and park rangers were immediately deployed to wrangle the horses back to the stables, Chan said. The horses were returned to their home within two hours. There were no reports of injuries. Park rangers were investigating how the horses got loose. Chan declined to confirm news reports that a gate was left open at the stables. The horses are part of a pilot program by the city Recreation and Park Department to offer park visitors an opportunity to ride on trails in Golden Gate and McLaren parks, Chan said. The trial runs through June 30. Sarah Ravani is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: Twitter: @SarRavani

Source: Whoa Nelly! Horses go on joy ride in SF’s Golden Gate Park – San Francisco Chronicle

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Conservatory of Flowers will be illuminated psychedelic colors for Summer of Love anniversary – Curbed SF


As San Francisco gears up to celebrate the golden anniversary of the Summer of Love—where, in 1967, an estimated 100,000 youths, sporting flowers in their hair and LSD on their brains, converged in the Haight-Ashbury sparking the hippie social movement—scores of city structures and buildings will pay tribute to that patchouli-laced era. One venue’s celebration promises to be especially noteworthy. The landmark Conservatory of Flower building in Golden Gate Park will light up in a myriad of colors. Illuminate, the group behind the Bay Lights, and Obscura Digital, a creative studio focusing on light-based art, will transform the stark white landmark with a series of illuminated scenes, which according to the conservatory, are “inspired by the rare tropical flowers within and the legacy of San Francisco’s flower children.” Ben Davis, Director of Illuminate, said in a press release, “We are bringing that light back to where it all began in Golden Gate Park fifty years later with an electrifying, contemporary tribute.” Groovy. Light show can be seen nightly from sundown until midnight from June 21 through October 21.

Source: Conservatory of Flowers will be illuminated psychedelic colors for Summer of Love anniversary – Curbed SF

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Volunteers helping visitors spot Blue Herons and their chicks in Golden Gate Park |


“SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — Volunteers are helping visitors spot Blue Herons and their chicks in Golden Gate Park over the next few weeks. The nests at Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park have seen 179 herons over the years. They court, build their nests, mate, and lay eggs between January and March. By April some of the nests have chicks, and this year there are six nests.

Come see the herons at Stow Lake at Golden Gate Park this Saturday and for the next six Saturdays from 10 to 1. For more information: or 415-205-0776.”

Source: Volunteers helping visitors spot Blue Herons and their chicks in Golden Gate Park |

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Saddle Up: City Pilots Guided Horse Rides In Golden Gate And McLaren Parks | Hoodline

Photo courtesy of Hoodline (Photo: jezet/Flickr)

“Hold your horses, San Francisco: this news will likely stirrup some excitement.

Beginning today, SF Rec and Park is offering horseback rides to the public in Golden Gate Park. The department is exploring the feasibility of guided horse rides in two city parks, and is seeking to gauge public interest.

For two months, the same professional wranglers who provide horseback rides at Camp Mather will offer guided rides in Golden Gate Park and McLaren Park. At Golden Gate Park’s Bercut Equitation Field, 15 horses will be available for trail rides—and soon, 10 steeds will be ready at McLaren’s Police Horse Stables.

Starting at $40 for 30 minutes, rides (which include human guides) will be offered seven days a week from 8am-7pm (weather permitting); equestrian enthusiasts should call ahead of time to check availability (1-844-967-4653).

Rides will be offered in 30-, 60- and 90-minute increments, and there’s a 25 percent discount for San Francisco residents. Helmets are required (and provided), and no children under five years old will be permitted to ride, according to Rec and Park’s informational page about the pilot.

Ready to hop astride? There’s no need to chomp at the bit: the trial period lasts until May 20th, so there’s plenty of time to saddle up.”

Source: Saddle Up: City Pilots Guided Horse Rides In Golden Gate And McLaren Parks | Hoodline

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The Park: A Love Story


Yin Yang Oaks (photograph by Stephen Kane)

The Helen Crocker Russell Library is pleased to present a new exhibition by photographer Stephen Kane. The exhibit, The Park: A Love Story, celebrates the beauty and diversity of landscapes and flora in our beloved Golden Gate Park. This will be Steve’s second show at the Library, the first was his wonderful 2014 exhibit, Trees Love Light. Artist’s Reception on September 15, 5–7pm.

Source: The Park: A Love Story | Golden Gate Park Landscapes + Flora | Hoodline

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Happy 146th Birthday Golden Gate Park


Follow the link below to watch a video tribute to San Francisco’s flagship park from the Department of Recreation and Parks. Enjoy!

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Getting To Know The Great Horned Owls Of Golden Gate Park | Hoodline

juvenileowlA great article about Great Horned Owls in Golden Gate Park:

Living near Golden Gate Park means getting used to nocturnal wildlife encounters, whether it’s raccoons, skunks or the occasional coyote. But there’s another neighborhood animal that’s more often heard than seen: the great horned owl. For much of the 20th century, the city’s population of hawks, eagles and owls declined due to pollution, but after harmful substances like DDT and leaded gasoline were banned in recent years, their numbers have rebounded.

For the last several years, a group of Bubo virginianus has nested in the pine trees near the bison paddock, at Golden Gate Park’s western end. Unlike other birds, great horned owls start their families right around now, in the depths of winter. After settling into the abandoned nest of another large bird, the female typically lays a clutch of three to five eggs, which incubate for three to four weeks. Unlike most San Franciscans, these owls are strictly monogamous; once they make a love connection, it’s for life.

An owl in Bernal Heights, 2007. (Photo: Art Siegel/Flickr)

After hatching, owlets stick close to their parents, who accompany them as they explore nearby branches. By the time they’re nine weeks old, baby owls have had their first flying lessons, but they’ll remain with their parents for several more months, leaving the nest early the following fall. Although adults usually stake out 2-3 square miles of home territory around the nest, juvenile owls may roam as far as 150 miles to find a new home.

Golden Gate Park offers a smorgasbord of snacks for the owls, which have their pick of insects, rodents, reptiles, and even other birds. Owls swallow their prey whole and undergo a 12-hour digestion cycle, regurgitating fur, teeth and bones in the form of compacted pellets.

An owl pellet containing rodent bones and teeth. (Photo: Art Siegel/Flickr)

Great horned owls are easily recognized by their brown faces, with prominent eyebrows and long tufts above each ear. Because one ear is higher than the other, owls can triangulate faint sounds, like a mouse chewing grass seeds, from far away. Their huge eyes are well-calibrated for seeing clearly in low light; if an owl were the size of a human, its eyes would be as large as oranges. A fully grown adult can grow up to two feet tall, with a wingspan of three to five feet.

In the wild, great horned owls usually live between 8 and 13 years, but in captivity, they are extremely long-lived. In 2012, an owl at the San Francisco Zoo died at the age of 50.

If you’re looking to spot an owl, keep your eyes peeled at night, when they go hunting. According to Wikipedia, their “hunting activity tends to peak between 8:30pm and 12:00am, and then can pick back up from 4:30 am to sunrise.” They often rest on the tops of utility poles, or the highest tree branches.

To see for ourselves, we staked out a spot near the Big Rec baseball diamond near 9th & Irving around 5:30am this morning. Though we weren’t able to spot an owl, we did hear the iconic cry of “WHOwhowhoWHO!” that indicated a male was nearby (females are higher in pitch). For those who don’t live near Golden Gate Park, Bernal Heights and the Presidio are also prime owl-spotting locations.

Source: Getting To Know The Great Horned Owls Of Golden Gate Park | Hoodline

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