The Real and Surreal in San Francisco

Having lived in small-town Sonoma County for many years, it can be challenging to visit San Francisco. An easy way to transition is to cross Golden Gate Bridge, head right, along Lincoln Blvd and go west. Some of the roadside trail has recently been restored so walkers and joggers can have a safer trip from the bridge to Baker Beach.

We turned off at Baker Beach and took a right to the day-use parking lot. This way we could eat our sandwiches in the car and still have a view of the gate. A clear sunny day with some high fog, showed us Pt. Bonita, the Marin Headlands, the Golden Gate Bridge and Ft. Baker. All of these are part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Golden Gate Bridge view to Marin County

Not sure why Baker is on both sides of bridge and gate. (Anyone?)

Baker Beach runs from the Sea Cliff neighborhood, with its mansions to the serpentine cliffs near Golden Gate Bridge. A mile long it provides a flat walk. But you may have noticed I said eat sandwiches in the car. San Francisco can be a little chilly. Picnic tables lead a lonely life.

Baker Beach and Sea Cliff San Francisco

Our main goal was to visit the Palace of the Legion of Honor and see an exhibit, “Man Ray | Lee Miller: Partners in Surrealism.” I am a sucker for black and white photos. In Paris from 1929 to 1932, their collaboration and relationship pushed their art and their manipulation of photos. Lee Miller started as a Vogue model and became a Vogue photographer. Not of the fashion-kind, but the reporter-kind taking some grim pictures after the World War II in Germany.

René Bouché’s illustrations in a complementary exhibit at the Palace are charming ink drawings with color wash of Paris and a few other European cities also published in Vogue magazine. (I believe he did fashion drawings too.) Reading about the pictures though, I could then see a people with no resources after World War II, trying to survive and yet have a good time.

Grasses at Palace of the Legion of Honor

Besides the striking images these artists created, these exhibitions made me think about what Vogue created. As a child of the 1950s and 60s with the Civil Rights movement, the Viet Nam War and the women’s movement swirling around me, I saw Vogue focus on fashion and celebrity.  I couldn’t have imagined it presenting the kinds of images and stories Bouché or Miller fashioned. Vogue wasn’t leading or reporting the women’s movement as much as exploiting it.

Ha! But I digress. Bundle up and go for a walk in San Francisco in fashion or not.

Lynn Millar

Photos by Mike Millar

Baker Beach and Golden Gate Bridge

Published by Lynn Millar

Walker, reader, writer, traveller - see About Walking

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