Art Town: Echo

If you’ve been wandering around downtown after a movie, or had a hankering for Chipotle, or really wanted to get a drink at The Cheesecake Factory, you’ve seen the lovely pair of statues on either side of Locust St. in Plaza Escuela. They tower above fountains or pedestals where pedestrians rest their feet. The artist, Yoshio Taylor, created these in 2002 out of bronze, and placed them on terra cotta bases.

 Look closely, and you’ll see a lot of history in these twin pieces. First, did you know that Walnut Creek’s first school once stood in this spot, hence the name of the plaza itself (“Escuela” = “school” in Spanish!)? The female figure is reading, and the male figure is holding several books. In another nod to Walnut Creek’s history, Taylor surrounds the feet of the figures with native plants that have disappeared from the area. If you look closely, you’ll see frogs, birds, foxes and more around the bases. The reason for the grape leaves is to celebrate Walnut Creek’s agricultural history; apparently we celebrated grapes in the Fall Festival long before we celebrated Walnuts!

Taylor says he created this with classical influences and wanted to give a proportional stance to his figures. The columns, in his description, give place, presence, and power to the figures. They serenely invoke a quiet restfulness. Taylor, who got an MFA from UC Berkeley and resides in Sacramento now, has given Walnut Creek’s downtown art scene one of its most treasured and aesthetically-pleasing works with Echo.

Best tours in San Francisco

Just because we live in the Bay Area and are “locals” of San Francisco doesn’t mean we can’t still play tourist when we hit The City! In fact, it’s one of the more fun things you can do when you cross the Bay Bridge. I love just wandering around and finding new nooks and crannies of the city I had never noticed before.

As with any major city, San Francisco has its fair share of awesome tours, and these are five I have researched that I think you should take a chance on next time you visit! From art, to history, to food, you’ll get the real, full, behind-the-scenes experience of San Francisco with any of these. If you go, let me know how it went!

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1. Precita Eyes Mural Tour

On the third Saturday of every month, founder and director or the Precita Eyes Mural Arts Center, Susan Cervantes, leads guided mural walks through the Mission. It’s $20, but it takes you through an array from over 200 alley murals in the hippest neighborhood in San Francisco. You can get more info here.

2. San Francisco Urban Hike

Now, I hate to do this, but I think you can self-lead a tour rather than spend $49 on having it guided. This “urban hike,” which has gained in popularity given San Francisco’s plethora of lush areas, is something you can certainly research and do yourself. If you’d rather go with a guide, check out this link!

3. San Francisco Love Tour

If nothing else, San Francisco is known for its role in the Summer of Love. Former hippies and music lovers should be excited to pony up $48 for this radical tour, which takes participants through iconic neighborhoods from the 60’s, and hit main attractions like Golden Gate Park. You’ll see the homes of Hendrix and Joplin, and do it all from an old-school VW van!

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4. Teas, Temples and Beatniks Tour

Okay, you can’t beat a tour that combines two of the coolest neighborhoods in a city full of cool neighborhoods: Chinatown and North Beach. You get to try local food, get your fortune read, taste the famous fortune cookies, and venture into North Beach to see the old hangouts of legends like Jack Kerouac. Check it out here.

5. City Guides

You’ve probably at least heard of this tour. City Guides is a full-blown non-profit with more than 200 volunteers leading 50 walking tours all around San Francisco. Local history buffs share their knowledge and whisk you around the beautiful city. And the best part for those who want to pinch pennies – City Guides is all donation-based, and technically admission is free!

How to send help to the fire victims

Last week, a record-setting wildfire decimated the picturesque Napa, Sonoma and Santa Rosa areas. There are 40 people dead, at least 16 wineries destroyed, thousands homeless and hundreds still missing.

via PressDemocrat.com

It is one of the most gruesome, saddening natural disasters in California history. If you’re like me, and want to help out the victims of these fires and do whatever you can to restore those areas to their former selves, there are plenty of ways to donate.

One way is to send a box of fresh fruit and vegetables from Farm Fresh to Redwood Empire Food Bank. So far, they’ve donated more than 200 boxes to evacuation centers throughout Sonoma and Mendocino Counties.

For every box donated to Redwood Empire Food Bank, Farm Fresh to You – who we wrote about last week – will match that donation. Just click here if you’d like to help. I did and when I don’t want a box delivered to my house, I will click to donate.

There have also been numerous drives and charities springing up on social media in the wake of the destruction. One specifically mentioned on the TV briefings was Napa Valley Community Foundation. Or if your heart is with helping all the animals, Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch is an Amazon Smiles recipient.

 

 

 

 

 

These give assurances that your donation is going where it will be most useful. If you don’t want to get involved with those, many who have friends and family that have lost everything are taking up carloads of specific donations.

My friend’s parents and sister both lost their houses and she specifically asked for certain sized clothes and non-perishables. I rummaged through my home for clothes and supplies, plus gave a gift card to Trader Joe’s.

In the news briefing, they specifically requested to temper our donations, meaning they will still be needed two months from now, so maybe one day in the near future when you are feeling grateful for all that you have, you might think, “I would like to click on one of these links and donate $25.”