I caught a nonstop flight from Washington to San Francisco last night after work, and arrived in the Marina District at 9:30pm. I took a good and brisk and chilly walk through the Presidio with a friend before heading to sleep. This morning I caught the San Francisco Bay Ferry to Vallejo:
The San Francisco Bay Ferry is $15 for what’s essentially an hour-long cruise/commute to Vallejo, and Napa is a short drive from there. The ferry itself has tables, internet, and power. It’s a great value, if you’d prefer not to drive sometimes. There was an elderly man on board on the back who struck up conversation with me after watching me shoot these videos. It turned out to be Arthur Tress, whose documentary work is presently on exhibit at San Francisco’s de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park:
In the summer of 1964, San Francisco was ground zero for an historic culture clash as the site of the 28th Republican National Convention and the launch of the Beatles’ first North American tour. In the midst of the excitement, a young photographer new to the city was snapping pictures not of the politicians or musicians but of the people in the crowds and on the streets. Arthur Tress, an accomplished American photographer, made more than nine hundred negatives in San Francisco during the spring and summer of 1964—among his earliest documentary work. Exulting in juxtapositions of the mundane and the absurd, Tress captured the chaos of civil rights demonstrations and political rallies, the idiosyncratic moments of San Francisco’s locals, the peculiar contents of shop windows, a miscellany of odd signs and much more.
Tress developed and printed his black-and-white negatives in a communal darkroom in the city’s Castro district before departing San Francisco in the fall of 1964. The vintage prints were packed away in his sister’s house, coming to light again only in 2009. The rediscovery of this forgotten body of work inspired the photographer to revisit his early negatives, and Arthur Tress: San Francisco 1964 is the delightful outcome.
Tress was heading to Mare Island, a “semi-abandoned place” he told me he’s been spending time photographing recently. I’m heading to Napa for the Napa Institute’s Summer Conference, happening this week.