If you’re into meek, kitsch, and self-deprecating work, you’ll hit the jackpot at The Contemporary Jewish Museum’s current exhibition, Cary Leibowitz: Museum Show. Although Leibowitz’s work has been included in approximately one hundred and fifty group exhibitions and featured in nearly forty solo exhibitions, this is his first wide-ranging and solo museum exhibition. People see his expression of insecurities and social skepticism as an unveiling of an identity one usually keys away from the public eye. He became known in the early 1990’s as “Candyass”.anapines8 Leibowitz

The work seems to celebrate ineptitude caused by depression or social deprivation but it can also be seen as a critique of pretentiousness. It all depends on the viewer provoking the age-old question, “What is art?” and who defines it. Is it art because the museum says so? He certainly explores the vanity of it all in many of his pieces in not-so-subtle ways. One piece has modern art written on it and prices slashed down to 5cents.

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It’s sarcastic and also reminiscent of the, “I’m rubber you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you!” days of elementary school. One of his canvasses has only two words; “Fat and Ugly” divided by a line and painted in green on a yellow canvas. He’s taking hurtful words and owning it.

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One can come to several conclusions about the artist when viewing the exhibit. In viewing the work you might think he’s depressed and holed up at home sprawling, “I hate myself” on cheap china all day but then you think, he has an art show at a museum, with work my kid might be able to re-produce. Yeah, he’s not a loser, pretty funny, and some might say, genius.

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The exhibition features nearly 350 original artworks and multiples from 1987 to the present. You can catch it now until June 25, 2017. Go judge for yourself and leave a note, your words might end up in his next show.

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736 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

Tickets range from $5 to $14 at



Canyon dig it! – Los Penasquitos Canyon Reserve

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It might not be Yosemite, but Los Penasquitos Canyon Reserve in San Diego has plenty of beautiful trails to explore. One of the best ways to see this 4,000 acre suburban wilderness is on a moderate 7-mile (round-trip) mountain bike ride.

Los Pensaquitos Ana Pines 1The well-marked, dog-friendly, multi-use hardpacked trail can be taken from the reserve entrance. There aren’t many elevation changes so it’s great for a leisurely walk or for beginner mountain bikers like us.

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One of the best rewards of the trail is the waterfall cascading through the volcanic rocks about 3 miles out. Well, to be accurate it’s more of a stream than a waterfall. But we loved soaking our feet in the cold water.

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Things to remember before heading out; bring plenty of water and sunblock, it is hot out there and most of the trail is not shaded. A 20 minute drive from Hillcrest makes it a great choice for a quick getaway from it all.

Great Hike or Bike! 

*The scenery of the canyon includes:

  • a waterfall cascading through volcanic rock;
  • a streamside forest of giant California live oaks;
  • groves of majestic sycamore trees;
  • a year-round stream populated by Pacific tree frogs, crayfish and largemouth bass;
  • a freshwater marsh hosting a variety of aquatic birds including great blue herons, egrets, mallard ducks and more; mule deer, bobcat, coyote and raccoon are just a few of the mammals that can be observed throughout the Preserve.

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*Info from:


The Art of the Brick

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If you’ve ever played with Legos you’ll remember the feeling of accomplishment when your imagination came to life in your hands. In time, you outgrew the brightly colored block toys unless you’re like Nathan Sawaya. After years of creating with Legos as a hobby, he quit his corporate lawyer job to become a full-time Lego artist. This fascination of creating with Legos on a bigger scale has made him renowned around the world. At his current traveling show, The Art of the Brick, you can get up close with his work.

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It’s the largest display of Lego work featuring over 120 creations and people are raving about it. You’ll experience famous works re-imagined, original work from Sawaya’s psyche and a collaboration with photographer Dean West, in which one focus in each photo is made of Legos. Can you tell which one from afar?

“The museum exhibition is accessible because it engages the child in all of us while simultaneously illuminating sophisticated and complex concepts.” 

It’s family friendly and you can touch two pieces at the end before entering the gift shop. There are also slight variations from city to city, “Be Different,” which represents fish swimming in the same direction except for one was created exclusively for the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, WA.

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The most impressive display is the dedicated gallery to a “dinosaur fossil” that took 80,020 pieces. He doesn’t altar the basic pieces to fit or change the colors that the blocks are originally offered in.

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The work up close is clunky and hard to decipher but once you take a step back the magic happens. It’s not so much about sophistication but rather creativity. It’ll teach you to look at things different like Sawaya did. You didn’t just have to follow the instructions on the box.

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It’s a great way to educate and inspire kids and adults alike. You realize that you don’t always have to outgrow the things you enjoyed in your youth. You never know what will happen. You could end up with your own exhibition.

Has it been to your city?

Check out the schedule at:


The Legacy of Rosie the Riveter

Rosie the RiveterOver 2,100 participants gathered at the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond on the 13th of August to break the Guinness World record for most ‘Rosie the Riveters’ in one place. Women, men and children participated in the event to honor the trailblazers who stepped up to the call of duty during WWII. Original Rosie’s were in attendance including Agnes Moore, Kay Morrison, Marian Wynn, Primetta Giacopini, and Priscilla Elder. Moore, 96, worked in the Richmond Shipyards as a welder for 4 years. Giacopini, 100, made ball bearings for bomb-sight equipment. The Richmond plant had approximately 40,000 workers from different regions who built more than 8,600 B-24 Liberator bomber aircrafts.

Rosie the RiveterThe call for women to work at the plant came out of need as these jobs were only held by men prior to enlisting and being drafted into combat. The women became known as “Rosie the Riveters” due to a marketing campaign that was made to attract more workers. They became welders, machinists, electricians, carpenters, mechanics, rail yard, farm, and gas station workers. There were also several clerical positions that were created increasing the number of women in the workforce by 50%.

Rosie the RiveterIt was the first time that minority women and disabled workers were given a choice in work. Older workers were also recruited. A quote by Fanny Christina Hill hangs in the Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park that states, “Hitler was the one who got us out of the white folks’ kitchen.” The discrimination that many of these women faced adds to the strength and power of the Rosie the Riveter image when you learn the complicated layers of its history and what the different groups of women had to endure. President Roosevelt didn’t sign the Fair Employment Act of 1941 until African American leaders threatened to a protest march. Once hired, they were given entry level, low paying and the more dangerous jobs like ammunition production. They were also the first to be laid off when the war ended.

Rosie the RiveterOnce the war was over the women were then pushed back into the home so the men could take back “their” jobs. This sparked and influenced many civil rights movements. Women got a chance to show what they were capable of and after proving themselves had society turn their backs on them.

The significance of the event went beyond dressing up, it was a reminder that no matter how many times we have to prove ourselves, and how annoying that is, we will persevere! That’s what the Rosie’s did while they were changing history and probably didn’t even know it. We’ve come a long way but there’s still work to be done. Women still get paid less, promoted less and harassed in the work place. We have to channel the Rosie spirit and keep going. The spirit of the annual event and the smiles of the real Rosie’s makes this a “must do” for all women. You can also visit the museum for free throughout the year!

Rosie the Riveter WWII/ Home Front National Historical Park is free! To find out how to donate and how you too can celebrate the life of Rosie the Riveter go to:



CARNAVAL San Francisco


Carnaval San FranciscoCarnaval San Francisco has been occurring on Memorial Day Weekend for 38 years. It celebrates the diverse Latin American and Caribbean roots that use to make up the Mission District. The diminishing population of Latinos lost to luxury condominiums, “hipster” stores and rising rent prices didn’t limit the representation of what once was. The parade included music, dance, and artistic expression that had attendees dancing, smiling, and taking photos to memorialize their experience. A pride could be felt in the air that told you, a part of us will always be here.

Carnaval San FranciscoUnited Farm Workers co-founder and Civil Rights Icon Dolores Huerta lead the way as this year’s Grand Marshal. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 2012 by President Barack Obama. She’s been fighting for what’s right since the 1960’s and continues to speak out for those who haven’t found their voice. Carnaval San Francisco’s Executive Producer Roberto Hernandez thought she was the perfect choice to lead the way, her advocacy for farm workers and the environment fit perfectly with this year’s theme Viva La Madre Tierra – Long Live Mother Earth. 

Carnaval San FranciscoThere’s also a 2-day festival with food, live music, vendors and an auto showcase. This years feature musician was Venezuela-born Oscar D’León. CARNAVAL San Francisco is one of the largest multi–cultural celebrations on the West Coast. It’s a reminder of how important it is to know your roots and how diverse cultures make life more beautiful. It’s also free, making it a great way to spend your weekend with family and friends. You can find out more about the organization at:


Slide Show by: Ana Pines

CubaCaribe Festival 2016

The 12th Annual CubaCaribe Festival of Dance and Music ends on Saturday April 30th. This year’s festival CUBA ON MY MIND pays tribute to Cuba’s rich artistic and cultural traditions and their influence around the globe. It’s the only festival in the Bay Area devoted to folkloric and contemporary dance and music of the Afro-Caribbean and its Diaspora. It’s founder, Ramón Ramos Alayo is a Cuban-born dancer, teacher, and choreographer who was selected by the Cuban government to study dance in Santiago de Cuba at age eleven. Each year, the festival presents more than 100 artists in 12 performances plus exhibitions, master classes and lectures on the religion, history and politics of the Caribbean.

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The festival occurs over three weekends. The second weekend took place at Laney College Theater in Oakland. Performances included the Afro-Cuban modern style of Alayo Dance Company and street dance theater style of Nicole Klaymoon’s Embodiment Project. Once the lights went down the beauty of the music and movement permeated the theater instantly. The dancers glided across the stage with focus and precision. In some performances there was a live band and singer. Songs included Nina Simone’s Mississippi Goddam and Shakira’s Pienso En Ti. One performance displaying the struggles of injustice and another lost love. 

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The dancing, singing, music and stories weren’t the only beautiful thing about the show. This is one of the most diverse shows I’ve seen in Oakland! The dancers were from all backgrounds, which in itself has its own interpretation. Life and art is about working together, we often have the same stories when it comes to the emotions related to the pressures of the everyday and love and loss. If only this commonality could open the eyes of the greedy and power hungry then the struggles forced upon people of color could be eradicated. Unfortunately, the reality of life is not a beautiful dance like CubaCaribe but it lets you know that in another lifetime it could be.

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CubaCaribe is a non-profit that also provides dance classes and workshops. For more information go to:

Walt Disney: The Man Behind the Mouse

Disney7_AnaPinesThe Walt Disney Family Museum opened in the Presidio of San Francisco on October 1, 2009 and was founded by Walt Disney’s eldest daughter, Diane Disney Miller who passed away in 2013. There is no argument that Disney is one of the more recognized brands in the world today. However, his daughter found it disturbing that that’s all it had become in the eyes of many. Her children encountered people that didn’t realize that there was an intricate story behind the Disney name that belonged to a human being, her dad.

The 40,000 square foot Museum contains one of the most comprehensive collections and fluid layouts that will appeal to Disney fans, entrepreneurs, and aspiring artists. As you immerse yourself in each room you will learn about many of his ups and downs, motivations, and relentless determination. His first cartoon company Laugh-O-gram went bankrupt in 1923. With only $40 in his pocket, he hopped on a train and headed to California.

Disney30_AnaPinesHis body of work emerged from need, curiosity, talent, and a little bit of luck. He stumbled across opportunities that included mentorships, collaborators and risks that could’ve gone the wrong way. He took chances, valued his family, and continuously educated himself on what was and wasn’t happening in his field. Full length animated movies weren’t even a consideration prior to Disney.

Among the numerous family photos, personal treasures, first prints, video segments and collectibles are lessons in movie making magic from storyboard to screen. Several original animation cells and photos of staff and original cameras used in production are found throughout. In the middle of it all is a two story multiplane camera that brought animation to the next level. The interactive display includes audio received through a telephone receiver you pick up and a video across from you with footage from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). Listen, watch and look down at the invention that brought pans and zoom ins and out to the animated screen. Disney thrived on improving the technology and when he dreamed up something, he’d find ways to make them come true. He was also the first to successfully synchronize sound and animation.

Disney35_AnaPinesAt times he wanted to call it quits and there were moments the business didn’t generate any money. One of those moments occurred during a worker strike that he persisted through. Although, it didn’t delve into whether or not he felt at fault for any of his worker’s grievances. In the end, they came upon an agreement and Disney continued to grow and expand the empire. He still holds the record for most Academy Award nominations (59) and wins (22).

Disney went from changing animation as we know it to creating the happiest place on earth, Disneyland. A tiny replica where you can look down at the entire parks layout as if you were in a plane (or a giant) takes up a room. You will also find many family mementos from the park on display. Seeing miniature Disney is a reminder that big dreams start small.

Disney45_AnaPinesThe self-paced tour ends in a room in remembrance of the day Walt Elias Disney passed away, December 15, 1966. It’s full of media, illustrations and quotes that exemplified the influence he had on the world and the sadness that many felt after hearing the news. The purpose of the museum is to let you get to know the “man behind the mouse” up until the very end. Once you visit, you will never see Disney as just a corporation again.

Tickets and prices:


More Photos:


Salvation Mountain – Off the Beaten Path

A few hours away from San Diego in Niland, Calif. 190 miles southeast of Los Angeles, in the lower desert of Southern California in Imperial County just east of the Salton Sea and about an hour and a half from Palm Springs, you will encounter Salvation Mountain.Salvation Mountain Ana Pines 34 The artist, Leonard Knight, an Army veteran of the Korean War, discovered God in a life-altering experience in 1967 while visiting his sister in San Diego. He visited her often and decided to settle a few hours away in Niland in 1984 when he began painting the mountain with messages of devotion to God. “I painted the mountain because I love God and I love people,” Knight’s quoted as saying in the on-site description. The first message you read upon arrival is “God is Love”. 

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The colorful mountain also includes flowers, trees, waterfalls, suns and birds and is surrounded by cars that are also painted. The mountain is approximately 40 feet high and spans about 150 feet across, made of local adobe clay and mostly donated paint.

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You don’t have to be religious to appreciate the two decades of dedication that Knight put into his art. He lived simply on a small Social Security check and slept in the back of his truck. Love is written everywhere and he believed that love expanded to everyone. He didn’t attend church because he believed you can love God from anywhere however, he always respected those that did. 

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In 2001, the Folk Art Society of America declared it a National Folk Art site worthy of protection and preservation. Knight died Feb. 10, 2014 at the age of 82. Dedicated volunteers currently preserve Salvation Mountain.

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More Photos by Ana Pines


Bridge 2 Bridge Cruise – San Francisco

A great way to learn about San Franciso history is by taking one of the short day cruises offered on the bay. The Bridge 2 Bridge tour operated by Red And White Fleet was not only educational, but also romantic. It takes you from the Golden Gate Bridge at the edge of the Pacific Ocean all the way to the Bay Bridge in the heart of San Francisco’s financial district and last 90 minutes.

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After receiving your tickets you’ll be directed to the pier for boarding. Once your ticket is checked, a souvenir photo will be taken of you and your party that will be available for purchase at the end of the tour.

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We boarded the boat and were told to take a headset to listen to the pre-recorded narration. It’s one of the only tours available in 16 languages, allowing all guests to enjoy the full scope of the tour. This is a great use of technology in a city visited by people from all over the world. There’s no live component to the storytelling but there are guides around if you do want to ask them a specific question or to take your photo. There’s no guarantee they speak more than one language though.

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You can choose indoor or outdoor seating once onboard. The concession stand offers snacks and drinks at very reasonable prices for the Bay Area. You can also bring your own food. Adult libations are also available for consumption. Settle in, choose your language channel, get the camera out and enjoy panoramic views of the entire city skyline including landmarks like Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz, Coit Tower, Transamerica Pyramid, Palace of Fine Arts, the Ferry Building, and the Financial District.

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You’ll learn about the architecture, culture, building of both bridges and the geology of the Bay Area. It requires special considerations when designing new structures because of its vulnerability to earthquakes due to its location. It’s close to the Pacific plate and the North American plate in which the Hayward Fault and San Andreas Fault are two of the main boundaries. The worst earthquake to date occurred in 1906 and measured a 7.8 magnitude. Thousands of people died and major damage temporarily debilitated the city. There are shifts in these fault lines everyday but many are barely felt.

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You may also see a few people swimming off the pier. Waters range from 50 F in January to about 61 F in September allowing for year round swimming. The Dolphin swim club provides classes, tips and competitions throughout the year for swimmers.

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My favorite part of the audio element of the trip was listening to the story of Alcatraz, a.k.a “The Rock”. You’ll hear first accounts of life on the island from a prisoner, and from a guard who worked there since its inception in the watch tower. It’s mainly known for housing some of the most notorious gangters like, Al “Scarface” Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelly and James “Whitey” Bulger. Prisoner rights included food, clothing, shelter and medical care. There were tough restrictions on outside communication including family visits. It’s location in the middle of the bay lead to it’s eventual shutdown in 1963 due to the cost of having to ship everything to it. It operated for nearly 3 decades and housed a total of 1,576 men. It’s also the site of the first lighthouse and US built fort on the West Coast. 

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If you have the time this is a highly recommended tour. If you don’t have the time it’s recommended you make the time. What’s more San Francisco than getting up close and personal with the Golden Gate Bridge? You can get photos from all angles including underneath. If you take the evening tour you may experience the sunset on the Bay Bridge depending on the month you go. Once purchased, tickets are good for a year if something were to happen prior to your desired time. It’ll give you a reason to come back to explore more of this amazing city. You may also want to hop on the Bay Bridge and explore all that Oakland has to offer. If you’re local, why are you letting tourists have all the fun?

Tickets can be purchased ONLINE or in person. Adults: $38 Youth: $26