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Op-Ed: Touristy, yes but San Francisco's North Beach still has the beat Special

Op-Ed: Touristy, yes but San Francisco's North Beach still has the beat Special

By Jonathan Farrell
The North Beach section of San Francisco for the most part caters to tourists; complete with tour buses, souvenirs and inflated prices.

Yet despite the dusty narrow streets, heavy with traffic and often litter-strewn, North Beach still has a beat, if it can be said that way.

"Beat" referring to its "Beatnik" past. At least for this reporter, North Beach still has a kind of rhythm that still makes it a special spot to gather.

Sit outside one of the many cafes and restaurants and watch scores of people transit by. From all walks of life from every part of the nation, the world, people flock to North Beach. Since the 1950's it has been a place for artist's - San Francisco's "Left Bank;" as it were, like the Montparnasse area of Paris.

This past Saturday the day before Easter, there was an art show in Washington Square. Dozens of works lined the walkway facing Union Street with the steps and steeples of Saints Peter and Paul Church in the background.

Among them was art by Feng Jin. What looked like outlined silhouette paintings on canvas - to this reporter, actually turned out to be delicate sculpture made of strips of metal. Up close strips of metal at various lengths entangled with one another, but stand back and a complete eye-catching feminine form emerges, an exquisite lady.

A graduate of the Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing, Jin is a metal arts sculptor. "Most of my work is in stainless steel," said Jin. "But I also work in steel, brass and copper," he said.

"My metal sculpture includes both non-representational and representational sculptures: figures, curved lines & shapes, and abstract forms are common themes." Jin said. He is inspired by the work of American metal sculptor David Smith.

"I am influenced by David Smith, even at a very early age, when I was still an art student in China," said Jin. "While not many Western metal sculptors were introduced to China during the early 1980's, Smith's strong compositions from steel and "found" scrap material have made significant impressions on me," Jin said.

Some art historians classify Smith as an abstract expressionist. Some speculate that Smith was influenced by Picasso. Perhaps this is what appeals to Jin?

For over 15 years Jin has lived and worked in San Francisco making Alameda, an island across the bay 40 minutes East from San Francisco his home. Working full-time as a sculptor his works were shown at the Alameda Museum this past March.

Often inspired by calligraphy, blending East with West he finds the lines and cursive shapes of such in the Chinese & Japanese characters aesthetically pleasing. Next month Jin will be exhibiting his works at the Atrium Gallery in San Francisco.

Even though it is spring time, the weather in San Francisco is chilly and yes fog appears at any time of year, regardless of the season. As clouds began to sprinkle some misty rain, Jin and the others started to put things away, and wrap up for the day.

Posted by Feng Jin on 4/25/11 | tags: modern Chinese-contemporary sculpture mixed-media figurative sculptor Metal sculpture Feng Jin installation

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