Morning is quiet downtown. There are only a handful of tourists wandering about and the occasional native scurrying to work. I am sitting outside the “Il Café” at Union Square with my steaming coffee, watching. It is brisk and damp. The square is filling with artists and their easels peddling their wares, a lifetime of their labours, to hopeful buyers seeking an alternative to the trinkets found in tacky souvenir shops scattered across the city.
It is a life long tradition for me to take a little piece of art home from where ever I travel, so, I feel particularly lucky today as I watch the artists unpacking their volumes of work.
Paintings, drawings and photos are carefully displayed showcasing their best features and carefully concealing the reality. Prices are rarely high and never on display. Mostly, there are the typical sketch painting street scenes in duplicate and European city photography intermingled with fantasy done in acrylics or pastels, colorful landscapes, and harsh abstracts. I generally gravitate toward the street scenes representative of the city scenes of my travels, but today I am drawn to a piece of fantasy. Not usually my style. This piece is vibrant and strangely comforting. It is a smattering of flowers on the surface of a pond cut at a cross section. The scene reveals a book resting in the sand at the bottom of the water. Streams of light and flowers flow upward from the book, like knowledge or wisdom. Quite an interesting concept. Art fascinates and provokes.
In a city like San Francisco, the people often become works of art glazed in fashion embellished with monochromatic accessories. An older woman in an orange Capri length track suit, matching sun visor, sandals, and bag, trimmed with a salmon colored silk scarf, floats past me, coffee in hand and newspaper tucked under her arm. Blue and white nautical stripes appear on men, women, and children, jazzed up with splashes of vibrant red. Dark crisp suits and glossy polished shoes on a cool Saturday morning prove that elegance transcends even on the weekend, in the city. Ladies, young and old, are teetering on sky-high heels, patterned tights, swathed in scanty shirtdresses or mini skirts. Confections of jewels and encrusted glitter dripping from their subdued attire are starkly contrasting with the scrubbed clean, freckled and blond, natural types in faded levis and skin tight tee shirts that show off their taut forms.
San Francisco doesn’t seem like a city for lovers but more for faded companionship. The coolness and indifference lingering in the air extinguishes the passion and lusty sensuality found in Rome and the romance exuding in Paris. Yet, there are tinges of deep seeded intellectualism similar to that of New York City but San Francisco lacks the pretentious nature. This is a town that is for sale. The city is a chameleon that blends to meet your needs and wants. Truly cosmopolitan in that everyone can find a place to feel at home or completely alone. It’s a sentiment that is left completely up to the level in which you let yourself mesh with the vast diversity. Ultimately, San Francisco is like a beautiful watercolor painting caught in a sudden rain.