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Bigelow’s Babble On by the Bay: Back on the Scene

by Catherine Bigelow

Miss Bigelow’s Babble On by the Bay
Miss Bigelow’s Babble On by the Bay

Home run: Tim Flannery, the beloved former San Francisco Giants third-base coach, is sliding into town this month. But instead of waving runners home, he’s got his guitar strapped to his back and performs two benefit concerts with his band, The Lunatic Fringe.

Aside from the shows benefiting his Love Harder project — founded by Flannery in 2014 to support savagely beaten Giants fan Bryan Stow, the nonprofit works to prevent bullying and violence — it’s a personal triumph for the Flan Man.

In November 2020, Flannery was diagnosed with a serious blood staph infection and spent weeks in a San Diego hospital, where he almost died.

Thankfully, he has returned to making, writing and recording the music he loves. On April 29, Flannery plays at the Plough and Stars on Clement Street, followed the next evening with an outdoor performance at the United Irish Cultural Center. Ticket information is available at loveharderproject.org.

Michael Brennan with two of his circus-themed portraits: artist William T. Wiley and arts patron Cissie Swig in her Wiley-painted cape. A portion of the show continues at Modernism West this month. | Photo courtesy of Catherine Bigelow.

“San Francisco, I’m bringing the band back to the City,” Flannery recently wrote on Facebook. “Both shows are benefits to help others. Looking forward to being back soon in the ’hood. … Hope to see you there.”

High notes: When Peggy Haas set out to source a new stage for the Children’s Theatre Association of San Francisco, which lost its lease at the Legion of Honor Museum in 2012, the Levi Strauss & Co. heir unknowingly embarked on saving and refurbishing the historic Presidio Theatre.

This hub of entertainment on the former military base had been vacant since 1995. But with Haas’ generous support, in September 2019 the Spanish Colonial Revival–style property — designated a National Historic Landmark — reopened with a $40 million revamp as an arts venue for theater, film, dance, special events and live music. Then, COVID.

This month, the 600-seat space is bursting with unique staging, opening with the world premiere of Robert Moses’ KIN dance production, The Soft Solace of a Slightly Descended Lost Life (Suck It), April 1 to 3. A jam-packed calendar ends April 30 when acclaimed EssEff jazz vocalist Kitty Margolis and a quintet — with her sax-man husband, Alfonso Montuori — delight music lovers in her first live, hometown star turn in three years.

“April feels like the perfect time to reemerge and celebrate the awesome power of jazz to heal, rejuvenate and uplift,” enthuses Margolis, founder of the indie label Mad-Kat Records. “On a good night, there’s nothing like the circle of energy between the band and audience.”

Gracious glamour: Following the distinguished March 30 Grace Cathedral memorial celebrating the extraordinary life of the late Charlotte Mailliard Shultz — which included tributes by Maria Kennedy Shriver and Henry Kissinger — from April 19 through 22, Bonhams presents a sparkling preview, Style & Substance: The Collection of George and Charlotte Shultz, featuring 200 lots of exceptional jewelry. Bonhams’ new showroom at 601 California Street marks the first stop of a world preview tour, culminating with a May 23 auction at Bonhams in New York. A single-owner sale is a rarity of the highest level among auction houses, which typically feature multiple lots amid numerous “magnificent jewel” sales during May.

Former SF Giants third-base coach Tim Flannery, left, at a 2021 Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame event honoring former Giants manager Bruce Bochy. | Photo courtesy of Catherine Bigelow.

But as our former chief of protocol, Shultz — one of the City’s most elegant women as she welcomed popes, presidents and princes — always accessorized her exquisite ensembles with dazzling jewels, pins, pendants, rings and parures.

The lots also include items belonging to her late husband, former Secretary of State George Shultz. At least 70 pieces he gifted her were created by Tiffany & Co., another American classic. And many, not surprisingly, are subtly patriotic — shimmering in red (rubies), white (diamonds) and blue (sapphires).

Three-ring: Brilliant and colorful Pandemonium, a three-day exhibition by artist Michael Brennan, debuted March 11 in an industrial space on Odd Fellows Way. Opening night was packed with friends, many of whom served as models — including gallerist Cheryl Haines, collector Cissie Swig in a gown painted by the late William T. Wiley, artist Mildred Howard and street muralist Ricardo “Apexer” Richey — for the 98 portraits amid the 129 circus-themed paintings.

“April feels like the perfect month to reemerge and celebrate the awesome power of jazz to heal, rejuvenate and uplift.” — Kitty Margolis

“It’s a collection I’ve been working on for seven years,” explains Brennan, a Mill Valley native who, as a child, recalls sitting in a darkened Cow Palace, thrilled by Ringling Bros.’ vivid colors, animal acts and death-defying feats. That excitement as well as vibrant hues infuse his oeuvre.

“I’ve been painting in the City for 45 years and had this idea of a circus,” Brennan continues. “I talk about this often with [Crown Point Press director] Valerie Wade. There’s nothing fair about the art world. It is a circus.”

The show is also a roll call of a certain era of the San Francisco art scene and related characters. Brennan’s first portrait: the late artist Robert Bechtle, dressed as a 1940s-era magician, who inspired Brennan’s career and to whom Brennan’s related Pandemonium book (Norfolk Press) is dedicated. In addition to paintings, he created a Dadaesque sculpture, crowned by a clown and surrounded by thousands of empty paint tubes, which, he notes with a laugh, “represents about $10,000 worth of oil paints.”

On April 7, a portion of Pandemonium moves to Modernism West, where gallerist Martin Muller — who, in his portrait, demurred from transforming his signature bow tie into a clown-size version — will host a book signing for Brennan. His works will be on view at the Mission Street location through June.

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