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December 22, 2018

San Francisco: Haight Street Art Center, A Ralph Steadman Retrospective


“Bombing in Las Vegas” Ralph Steadman (1972)

Urban areas often have a variety of interesting and free things to do and to see. It is one of the things I like most about cities. This is no commitment tourism; you show up and look. If it is not interesting you leave. There’s no motivation to get your full value out of the price of admission.

Sometimes the things to see are random and simple. In San Francisco someone has taken to over painting “dogs on leash” sidewalk markings near Duboce Park in an amusing way. I can’t help but smile when I see these. San Francisco’s Recreation & Parks may have been less amused; these were mostly painted over in 2018.

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In other cases, the free stuff is more organized. An example is the Ralph Steadman Retrospective ongoing at the Haight Street Art Center at 215 Haight Street in San Francisco’s Lower Haight neighborhood. The exhibit is open Wednesday to Sunday from 12 noon to 6 pm. It runs from the 6th of November 2018 to January 20th 2019.

Ralph Steadman is best known for his illustrations for the self-proclaimed gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, particularly for the book “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”. The numerous works on display at the Haight Street Art Center include pieces from the “Fear and Loathing” era and beyond. It is interesting to see a variety of his art presented in its original format. So often you just see smaller cartoons or illustrations in books. The full-scale works are more impressive.

“‘Don’t draw Ralph! It’s a filthy habit…” HST. Self pootrait” Ralph Steadman

“Lizard Lounge” from “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” Ralph Steadman (1971)

I’m no art expert but Steadman’s works seem to be standing the test of time. Does it qualify as “high art”? Does that matter? I don’t know but it is hard to go wrong with a free visit. All of it takes is the commitment to walk through the door and look. There’s nothing to lose.

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I visited the Haight Street Art Center in December of 2018. Admission is free and picture taking is allowed. Numerous corporate sponsors support the exhibit and the Center. There’s also is a tip jar, which we contributed to and encourage others to do the same.

“Bad Waves of Paranoia Madness” from “Fear and Loathing” Ralph Steadman

“Raging Bitch” Ralph Steadman (2009)

“Donald Trump–Porkie Pie” Ralph Steadman 2015

“Each Year Greville Learned…” Ralph Steadman (1998). For years Ralph has been an unpaid gardening consultant for Rolling Stone.

“Breaking Bad: Walter White” Ralph Steadman 2015

“Vintage Dr. Gonzo” sculpted by Jud Bergeron (2015)

“The Three Parroteers or Parrotlets”

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