Sartle can get a little carried away reppin’ San Francisco. The Bay is, after all, home to the best their favorite sports teams, top rated museums, sourdough bread, breathtaking views of the Pacific, and of course, Sartle headquarters.
Who are we kidding? Win or lose, these teams are #1.
To say they are biased about the City by the Bay is an understatement. So to keep their pride in check, Sartle decided to get an outsider’s perspective on THE City by calling upon myself and Griff, two of their long-distance contributors to frolic through Frisco and write about the experience. It’s been a month since the visit and despite living in Hawaii, you know, literal Paradise, I can attest that the song is right. I left my heart in San Francisco.
Tony Bennett’s America’s Greatest City By the Bay, part of the Hearts in San Francisco project. These things are everywhere.
After an easy 5.5 hour flight from HNL->OAK and a 30 minute car ride out of the East Bay, Griff and I had arrived in San Francisco ready to chain ourselves to our desks and do nothing but write for the week. Walking into the Sartle headquarters at Fort Mason we were promptly told that we did not need to pack our unbreakable metaphorical desk chains and asked would we be OK with spending half of the trip exploring the City’s museums, art schools, and murals instead? Also, how would we like to grab a cocktail after work before going on a boat ride under the Golden Gate Bridge and then hiking on Angel Island? Oh, and we may get to play with a pair of pugs later in the week. Uhhhh…
So after a few hours of this:
We went across the street to The Interval at the Long Now Foundation to drink fancy cocktails in a bar that looks like this:
Only to chase them with a boat ride across the Bay with this unforgettable view of the Golden Gate Bridge:
Followed by a sunset hike on beautiful Angel Island:
After pinching ourselves to make sure we weren’t dreaming, we made our way to the hotel, our minds expanded by experience and our hearts having been lost somewhere in the cold waters of the Bay.
The rest of the trip is a bit of an art blur. Mostly art on a budget, because we live in one of the most expensive cities in the country and we were visiting one of the most expensive cities in the country.
You live in Hawaii/ California, you must go to the beach all the time!… Or I’m working 2 jobs to afford a $6 carton of eggs, you fool!
So, how does an art lover get the best bang for their buck in the country’s 4th most expensive city? Follow these simple steps:
1. Budget your time to save money.
San Francisco has a plethora of great museums and whether you’d like to save cash on transportation or admission it’s advisable to set aside a full day (or days) and really plan your visit. I was dying to see High Style: The Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection that was on special exhibition at the Legion of Honor. The $22 spent for the special exhibit admission gained us entry to the permanent collection as well as same day access to the de Young’s general collection. Since we’d gotten to the museum by midday I was able to salivate over all the silk, Sartle up a bunch of sculptures and lyft over to the de Young with enough time to grab lunch at the café and take a leisurely stroll through their galleries. Located in Golden Gate Park, the de Young is surrounded by beautiful gardens, sculptures, and of course the Academy of Sciences. Visit them all in one day to save on transportation costs. If your schedule is flexible, go on the first Tuesday of any month for free admission or skip the special exhibitions and pay only $10.
While we didn’t make it to the Asian Art Museum and SFMOMA is still closed for construction, the rule of time budgeting still applies. Assuming you can handle more than one museum trip in a day and are willing to brave the sights and smells of Market Street, these locations are only about a mile apart and can easily be visited on the same day if you get out the door at a decent hour. Not being lazy just saved money by avoiding another Uber ride and now you can spend a little more shopping at Union Square (just a stone’s throw from SFMOMA). Or haul your lazy butt uphill and spend that extra cash on delicious dim sum in Chinatown.
2. Don’t be afraid to BART, MUNI, or walk.
You don’t need a car in San Francisco. In fact, if you are from out of town, please do not rent a car and attempt to navigate the ridiculously steep hills and many one-way streets. Be brave and use public transportation, your feet, and when necessary, lyft/Uber/taxi services. I myself hate buses due to a school bully and a 40-minute school bus route so I avoided Muni. Had I agreed to be an adulthuman who faces her fears and embraces rational decision making, spending the $2.25 Muni fare to all our locations we may have saved some time and definitely would have saved money. This did not happen. Instead, we walked a lot, lyfted, BARTed and in doing so saw a ton of street and installation art and worked off all that Pier 39 clam chowder.
We managed to BART/walk to the other side of town to view the Pan American Unity Mural by Diego Rivera located at the City College of San Francisco.
City College has art scattered everywhere, top is a beautiful mosaic, bottom shows some of the views the college has to offer.
The mural is supposed to be open to the public Tuesday and Thursday from 12pm-5pm but the doors were locked when we got there at 12:30pm. We were about to give up when a nice man wearing a Keith Haring shirt bustled through the door letting us in. Turns out that due to a change in the docent’s schedule the mural was not open to the public that day except for at that very moment, and that the man who let us in was a retired professor and Rivera scholar. So Griff, the 5 other art lovers in attendance and myself were treated to a private docent tour as well as 20 minute lecture, for the price of a $3.80 BART ticket.
The mural can be hard to find, but there are signs if you pay attention. It’s inside the Diego Rivera Theatre (left) and you’ll turn right at the banner (right)
Olmec artwork sees art differently.
Our private professor pontificating on painting.
Griff, Frida Kahlo, and Paulette Goddard.
3). Don’t be afraid to ask.
We wouldn’t have seen the PanAmerican Unity Mural had we not asked our art loving professor friend how to get into the building. We also would not have visited the other Rivera mural on our list without a little socializing. Like the PanAmerican Unity Mural, Rivera’s The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City lives in a San Francisco college. We were being sent to the San Francisco Art Institute anyway because their head librarian is notorious for having all the gossip on the school’s famous past pupils. Unfortunately for us, he was on vacation AND the mural was housed in a room where surly looking art students were installing a show. After a few minutes talking to some very helpful librarians who knew little of the gossip but did show us old photo albums full of photos from the school’s super racist 1930s “African” themed party and told us that the old tower is full of ghosts, we timidly asked them if the mural was open that day. The answer was a resounding yes and we managed to snap a few photos of the piece before the student’s obvious resentment of our presence became completely unbearable. Then we walked up a giant hill and found out that the school is a block from Lombard Street. Tourism!
The San Francisco Art Institute, complete with a hella haunted bell tower.
The mural, covered for protection from all the shade students were throwing.
Lombard Street, it’s exactly what you’d imagine a windy street full of tourists to look like.
After such an amazing few days of art and exploration neither of us thought things could get any better. Then we met Thor and Zeus and we knew that Sartle is right, San Francisco is a truly magical place.
The pug shaped cherry on top.
By: Sarah Oesterling