Montgomery BART station, San Francisco, CA.
Did I mention that I’ve spent the last several years trying to become an expert on Buffalo chicken wings? My path to achieving this involved setting out to eat Buffalo wings at 50 different restaurants. (Some time, this week or next, I will finally have achieved that goal.)
Becoming an expert on Buffalo wings means also becoming something of an expert on sports bars and sports-themed restaurants. I’ve eaten at sports bars and restaurants from coast to coast. Highlights include the Old Town Bar and Restaurant in Manhattan, NY; Champs in State College, PA; Ricky’s Sports Theater in San Leandro, CA; and High Tops in San Francisco.
While each of these restaurants is unique, High Tops is the newest the four, and it’s the only one that caters to a gay clientele. Located in the Castro Neighborhood of San Francisco, it has some of the best bar food I’ve ever eaten. It also has some of the most athletic-looking customers I’ve ever seen at a sports bar.
The man in this drawing stood out, not because he was any more or less muscular and well-groomed than the rest, but because he was Black, in a bar with relatively few Black people of any sex or gender. Then again, the Castro is a neighborhood with relatively few Black people of any sex or gender; but I always forget that, until I’m in the area.
Here’s another portrait from the opening of The Black Woman is God exhibition at SOMArts, in San Francisco. Did I mentioned that roughly 1000 of the best dressed young Black tastemakers in the Bay Area turned out for this event? In my white button-down and khaki’s I felt underdressed; but I was happy to be upstaged by beautiful Black people in amazing clothes.
One of the best parts of living in the San Francisco Bay Area has been the opportunity to connect with so many other artists of color. This drawing is a portrait of William Rhodes, a local sculptor, and mixed-media artist whose work is included in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture, in Washington, DC. In this drawing, he’s dressed as I saw him at the opening of the Making a Scene exhibition at SOMArts, in San Francisco. Click on his name (above) to view some of his amazing work.
At the “Making a Scene Opening,” SOMArts, summer 2015.
SOMArts really knows how to throw an opening. From “Glitterbomb” and “Making a Scene” (both in the summer of 2015) to “The Black Woman Is God” (in the summer of 2016), SOMArts openings have drawn huge crowds of art lovers from across the Bay Area. I think it’s because SOMArts group shows include a diversity of artists, each of whom draws their own community of friends and family. Even those openings that have been overwhelmingly Black or LGBTQ draw on a richly diverse array of identities within those respective communities. There’s something about these events that feels so Bay Area. As much as I whine about missing my beloved Northeast, the art community in the Bay always reminds me of why, since coming to Oakland in 1999, I’ve decided to stay put.
This is one of my favorite drawings, of a friend I will refer to by his online pseudonym, Atypical. This year was Atypical’s 28th birthday, and his partner commissioned this portrait as one of his gifts. He was a pleasure to draw, and his great smile is just a reflection of his warm spirit. Plus, he’s into robots, which is one of the coolest things I learned about him in the drawing process.
Happy belated birthday, Atypical!
Here’s another portrait from outside the Honey Bistro Restaurant. While the brother in the previous post drew my attention because of his audacious style of dress (fake fur on a not-particularly-cold day), I was drawn to this guy’s nerdiness. It felt so very relatable, Indeed, looking at him with his glasses, his double chin and his Eisenhower jacket was a little like looking into a slightly warped mirror.