W-a-a-a-y back at the beginning of October, I received an email from my dear friend Macy Chadwick of In Cahoots Press. “Hey Jennie,” she wrote, “there’s a cool event happening in SF this weekend. It seems like your sort of thing — rubber stamps and passports and all.” Once I’d caught an eyeful of the SF Arts Commission website, I could say she knows me pretty well. “Passport” is a yearly event which takes participants into different neighborhoods of SF, with the common goal of filling one’s passport with artist designed stampings.
I purchased my passport on a Friday afternoon, in preparation for Sunday’s adventure. As I flipped thru the empty pages, I wondered what kind of rubber stamps would soon fill it. Then I thought about my official customs-issued US passport: both little books were approximately the same size, and the same heft when held in my hand. Both passports inspired a feeling of want within me — I had an urge to fill up every single page, whether it was with rubber stamps or travel visas. I pledged that I’d start on Sunday, with the rubber stamps part.
I had deemed Sunday “passport day”, and the weather was glorious. Herr Baron graciously agreed to take part in the shenanigans, ferrying me hither and yon via motorcycle. While most of the event’s “stamping locations” took place in central Hayes Valley, there were a few remote locales. We mapped out a plan of action, and zoomed off.
Rooky Ricardo’s Records in the lower Haight was one of my favorite stops. From the outside, this storefront is fairly unassuming; once you get inside, it’s a wonderland of vintage soul/blues vinyl. “Listening stations” are comprised of record players, headphones, and comfy chairs to sit in. It smelled like childhood to me — cardboard record sleeves and my pop’s garage. In the back was artist Jason Jagel, waiting to stamp our passport…
Mission accomplished, and on to our next destination! We checked in with artists Lordy Rodriguez (Orbit Room), Ruth Laskey (Green Arcade), and Ricardo Richey (African American Art and Culture Center) fairly quickly; it was starting to get a bit warm and we were working up a thirst! “Outerlands” taken care of, we headed back into the heart of Hayes Valley. Parking the motorbike, we hoofed it for the rest of our journey.
I’ve seen Deth Sun’s work around town for awhile now, mostly at the likes of SF Zine Fest and APE. I really love this particular image, and he seems to use that cat-without-eyes character quite a bit (which I love). The Baron and I waited in line diligently, while Seth did his thing. Oddly enough, we ran into someone who remembered us from a Christmas party in 2008 — proving yet again, SF is a city where “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” is alive and well. This would not be the first time this happened to us, throughout the course of Passport Sunday.
Over at the MAC (Modern Apparel Clothing) store, Nigel Poor had a line of people waiting to get a rubber stamped impression of Gavin Newsom’s fingerprint. Nigel’s been on my radar ever since she was artist-in-residence at the SF Center for the Book; her projects are always eloquent, beautiful, and thought-provoking.
Passport stamped! On the way to our next destination, we saw a woman with a portable, make-it-while-you-wait ice cream machine — awesome!!! (and yes, she had dry ice hidden in there somewhere!)
By this time, there were crowds of people walking through Hayes Valley; the neighborhood had turned into a street party. As mentioned, the weather was gorgeous, so that added to the festive mood. Isotope Comics kept the carnival going, with an amazing rubber stamp from Jamaica Dyer, the always-charming owner of Isotope James Sime, and a foxy 1940s-esque bartendress pouring adult bevs. Music spilled out onto the sidewalk.
Our last stop of the day was Patricia’s Green a.k.a “that little park where they always have some sort of sculpture from Burning Man”. The dapper Travis Somerville not only stamped my passport, but thumbprinted the page with inky clay he had made himself, as well as embossed the whole thing with an anti-slavery seal. Travis is my kind of people, and I made sure to tell him so.
At the end of the day, to thank the Baron for his service in the line of duty, I suggested refreshments from this fine establishment. Of course he agreed! (how could he not?)
We discussed amongst ourselves: which stamps were our favorites, which artists had made the most out of the passport concept. Would we do it again next year? (definitely.) How would we approach it differently as participants? (things went pretty smoothly!) I thought about all the people we had met and talked with throughout the day, the sights we had seen, the fact that the two of us had experienced the city in a wholly new way. All in all, I can say that the final destination of “satisfaction” was reached — I can hardly wait for next year.
11.03.10: edit — lovely reader Emilie asked me to post some images of the actual stamps in my passport — why didn’t I think of that?! D’oh. Anyway, here you go! Four of my faves-of-the-day (out of 16 total…):