it was pretty easy, and kinda fun. i'd never been to the inside of city hall before, and damn, that place is a palace!
i went in past the guards at the front and through their metal detection devices (i couldn't get the ac/dc and steve vai out of my head, so i kept setting off the alarm. finally they had me sing a few bars of "hells bells" and let me through). then i got caught by the rotunda. wow. just wow. i didn't know there were any places like this in the city. visually beautiful, and the acoustics were insane. there were at least two, maybe three queer couples getting married. one was this femme/butch pairing of cute-as-can-be punk dykes. so sweet!
i escaped the beauty and headed downstairs to the elections department. there was a line of like 75 people already! according to one of the workers, it had been on and off busy ever since the doors opened for early voting a few weeks ago. these ladies (for it was all ladies, as far as i could see. and one gay man, maybe. don't know if he worked there.) were definitely earning their paychecks. (the art you see on the walls? more on that later.)
i had to fill out a form that said i promised not to get a ballot anywhere else, and then stood in line for 20-30 minutes. maybe not even that long. i wasn't feeling all that well, so it may have felt longer than it actually was. there was no pushing and shoving, and no grumbling that i heard. we were all excited to be there and excited to get the thing done and make sure our vote got counted; the earlier, the better.
at the head of the line, i was shown to the front desk, where after a quick i.d. check (did my signature on the form match what they had in their db? if not, they'd check other i.d.), i got my ballot. this ballot is, evidently, identical to the ones that are mailed to folks who are doing the mail-in ballot thing.
i looked up, and behind the woman helping me, there was an open door. through that door, carefully arranged on tables and chairs and the floor, were box after box after box of ballots. the door was heavy wood, and the room was under a grand stairway, so it looked like some kind of cement lean-to; a bunker, a vault. i felt like i was seeing something secret. ;)
and then i went to one of the plastic, fold-out polling places and voted. it was totally awesome.
okay, to the art in the halls. i was in line, and didn't really feel like talking to my fellow enfranchised (as i said earlier, i wasn't feeling very well). but i'm kinda a.d.d., and i'm not super fond of having nothing to engage my senses (preferably, more than one sense at a time).
so i start looking at the art. the show is called "insights, 2008: an exhibition of works by artists who are blind or visually impaired," and is a joint project of the lighthouse for the blind and the san francisco arts commission gallery. wow! it's running through december 12, and you can get there through the grove or polk street entrances to city hall. this is the 19th year!
some of the art was really cool and some - well, none of it sucked, in my opinion. but that wasn't the coolest part. check out the painting here. i think it was the most interesting piece in the show, if not the most beautiful. it's called "all american little miss," and it's by mari newman of minneapolis, minnesota. in her artist statement, she says that she's legally blind, but can see colors, and that she "can't distinguis dullness or dull colors very easily," and she finds "mundane things boring." nice!
so, just below the painting, in the center, you may be able to make out a little icon that looks like a computer speaker icon. what you may not be able to see is that right beside it is a number in a box. well, that number is "36." and if you dial the following phone number - 415 226-2583 - and key in "36#," a pleasant woman's voice, strong but not strident, will read to you a description, in english, of the painting. for "all american little miss," this description is as follows: "crayon and poster paint. 28 by 22 inches. at the top of the image stand three little pigs in identical poses and dresses. the three pigs look alike, but one is dark brown, one is medium brown, and one is dark pink. the three dresses are full, short skirts, white collar, cuffs and black tie at the neck. one is purple, one is green, and one is blue. each pig is wearing black and white striped leggings and black shoes. behind the three little pigs is a red, checked, gingham table-cloth pattern. in the bottom half of the painting is an american flag, with 24 white stars on a blue field. the shape of the flag looks like a slice of bread. the stripes look like slices of bacon, in red with strips of yellow on the edges. behind the flag is a background of extremely tiny dots in blue, green, purple, yellow and white."
from eyes to mind, we go to ears to mind. but it's one more step removed. the work of art "is." the words describing the work of art "are," as well, but they aren't the art itself. which means that it's at least one step removed, even if we could replace the ears for the eyes in a one-to-one relationship. also, although descriptive, i certainly wouldn't classify the above description as very artful, although i did like the flag as bacon and bread. just sop up that grease and dig on in! very american. ;) (hah! i just realized that it actually looks just like bacon! that wasn't artistic license on the part of the descriptor. heh. shows how much i was paying attention. d'oh! oh! which points up something else - the description of it caused me to go back and look at the picture of the painting again - and so i saw - literally and figuratively - the painting more clearly because of the description. neat!)
you can read about the exhibit at www.lighthouse-sf.org. they have artist statements, and about 5 mp3s which are a few of the artists talking about their own work. they also have an online gallery, so one can see the works.
all in all, quite a successful trip.