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Sep. 16, 2017

Announcing the Fall Film Festival Line-up!

It’s here! The 2017 Fall Film Festival presented by PROXY and HERE FOR NOW returns to the PROXY Walk-in Theater on Friday, September 22. Join friends, family, neighbors and fellow film lovers–outsidefor five FREE Friday night screenings of the best new independent film.

Movies begin at 7:30 PM. Come early to claim a good spot and be sure to check out these tips for enjoying the PROXY experience!

 

Friday, September 22
I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO
Directed by Raoul Peck, 2016 [PG-13]

“An astonishing, often challenging and sharp examination of race in the United States”
—Globe & Mail

In 1979, James Baldwin wrote to his literary agent describing his next project, Remember This House, a revolutionary, personal account of the lives and successive assassinations of three of his close friends—Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. At the time of Baldwin’s death in 1987, he left behind only thirty pages of his manuscript. In this incendiary new documentary, filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished: a radical, up-to-the-minute examination of race in America, confronting the deeper connections between the lives and assassination of these three leaders, the civil rights movement, and #BlackLivesMatter.

Friday, September 29
THE BIG SICK
Directed by Michael Showalter, 2017 [R]

“The year’s most likably unlikely romcom.”
—The Guardian

Based on the real-life courtship between Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon—the screenplay’s co-authors—The Big Sick tells the story of Pakistan-born aspiring comedian Kumail (played by Nanjiani), who connects with grad student Emily (Zoe Kazan) after one of his standup sets. What they thought would be just a one-night stand blossoms into the real thing, complicating the life Kumail’s traditional Muslim parents have planned for him. When Emily is beset with a mystery illness, Kumail must navigate the medical crisis with her parents, Beth and Terry (Holly Hunter and Ray Romano), while dealing with the emotional tug-of-war between his family and his heart.

 

 

Friday, October 6
LANDLINE
Directed by Gillian Robespierre, 2017 [R]

“Wise, witty and wonderful.”  —Flavorwire

When two sisters suspect their father (John Turturro) may be having an affair, it sends them into a tailspin that reveals cracks in the family façade. For the first time, older sister Dana (Jenny Slate), recently engaged and struggling with her own fidelity, finds herself bonding with her wild teenage sister Ali (Abby Quinn). The two try to uncover the truth without tipping off their mother (Edie Falco) and discover the messy reality of love and sex in the process. Set in 1990s Manhattan, Landline is a warm, insightful and comedic drama about a family united by secrets and lies.

 

Friday, October 13
A GHOST STORY
Directed by David Lowery, 2017 [R]

“Like nothing you’ve ever seen.”
—Vanity Fair

With A Ghost Story, director David Lowery returns with a singular exploration of legacy, loss, and the essential human longing for meaning and connection. Recently deceased, a white-sheeted ghost (Casey Affleck) returns to his suburban home to console his bereft wife (Rooney Mara), only to find that in his spectral state he has become unstuck in time, forced to watch passively as the life he knew and the woman he loves slowly slip away. Increasingly unmoored, the ghost embarks on a cosmic journey through memory and history, confronting life’s ineffable questions and the enormity of existence. An unforgettable meditation on love and grief, A Ghost Story emerges ecstatic and surreal—a wholly-unique experience that lingers long after the credits roll.

 

Friday, October 20
PATTI CAKE$
Directed by Geremy Jasper, 2017 [R]

“The Sundance and Cannes sensation”
—Deadline

In a coming-of-age story straight out of Jersey, an unlikely rapper finds her voice as a one-of-a-kind hip-hop legend in the making in PATTI CAKE$, the first feature film from acclaimed commercial and music-video director Geremy Jasper. Set in gritty strip-mall suburbia, PATTI CAKE$ chronicles an underdog’s quest for fame and glory with humor, raw energy and some unforgettable beats.

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Sep. 16, 2017

Tips for Enjoying Movies Outside at PROXY

Here are some frequently asked questions about our free film screenings at PROXY. Feel free to email us at info[at]proxysf.net with more!

> What is a walk-in theater and where is it located?
The PROXY Walk-in Theater is an open-air venue with a cinema-quality screen and projector—like a drive-in theater only without the cars. It’s located in the heart of San Francisco, at 432 Octavia Street at the corner of Hayes Street.

> Do I need tickets?
Screenings are free and open to all. And because its outdoors, people are welcome to drop in throughout the evening. Tickets aren’t needed, but we encourage you to register so we can alert you about any program changes that may occur.

> Are there seats in the walk-in theater?
Most people enjoy movies at PROXY “picnic style” on blankets, our green turf (available for rent), or low camp chairs—claiming a spot on a first come, first served basis.

> Are the films suitable for families?
Our mission is to introduce the best of new film to as wide an audience as possible. However, some themes and content may not be for everyone. We’ve provided ratings when available, but please review each film to make an appropriate personal judgement for you and your family.

> Is food available during the screenings?
We will have food and beer for sale on site, with beer proceeds supporting ongoing programming at PROXY. Festival goers also can pack a picnic from home or enjoy take out from the Hayes Valley’s many great restaurants. However, laws prohibit outside alcohol at PROXY.

> What if it rains?
Rain happens. If it’s in the forecast, we’ll decide one day before whether to reschedule a screening. Those who have registered will receive an email alert about the change. Otherwise, watch for updates on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and our website.

> Won’t it be cold?
Evenings in San Francisco typically are cool to cold. We recommend bringing warm layers and a few friends to stay cozy.

>Is there parking close by?
Hayes Valley is well served by San Francisco’s transit systems and bicycle network. We encouraging using alternative transportation to attend all events at PROXY, but limited parking is available in nearby garages.

—Civic Center Garage: 355 McAllister Street (between Polk + Larkin)
—Performing Arts Garage: 360 Grove Street (between Gough + Franklin)
—CityPark Opera Plaza: 601 Van Ness Avenue (between Turk + Golden Gate)

> This is amazing, how can I help?
If you enjoy watching movies outside at PROXY, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to our affiliated nonprofit HERE FOR NOW.

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Sep. 8, 2017

2017 Fall Film Festival at PROXY

Get ready! The FALL FILM FESTIVAL returns to PROXY on September 22. Last year’s festival brought together thousands of movie lovers from around the city and around the world. Here’s a preview of what’s in store for this third annual gathering:

  • Five FREE evening programs featuring provocative independent films, fresh from this year’s festivals
  • Opening night screening of I Am Not Your Negro
  • An outdoor cinema experience unlike any other, bringing the community together in the heart of Hayes Valley.

 

SUPPORT THE FALL FILM FESTIVAL
Presented by HERE FOR NOW, the Fall Film Festival brings the art-house theater outdoors where it is open and accessible to all. Help sustain a place for ideas-driven, inclusive cinema in the public realm by making your tax-deductible contribution today.

 

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Spring Series 2017: Culture, Conscience and Community

The 2017 Spring Series at PROXY presented by HERE FOR NOW captured the mood of the moment. From challenging documentaries and fake news to a moving portrait of an unconventional family and an optimistic embrace of science and mobile filmmaking, this series sought to bring together people through a common love of film to find strength and comfort in our community. Following are highlights from the six nights of free screenings presented outside in the PROXY Walk-in Theater.

Special thanks to our collaborators and sponsors whose creative energy and support made the series possible: HERE FOR NOW (our nonprofit partner), Exploratorium, SFFILM, Indie Lens Pop-up, Disposable Film Festival, Biergarten, and Fort Point Beer.

An evening of FOOD+FILM presented by Disposable Film Festival and HERE FOR NOW.

 

NATIONAL BIRD (2016), director Sonia Kennebeck’s “deeply disturbing look at drone warfare,” presented by Indie Lens Pop-up and HERE FOR NOW.

 

Pre-screening discussion special guests National Bird producer Ines Hofmann Kanna, film protagonists, and CorpWatch Executive Director Pratap Chatterjee.

 

WHOSE STREETS? (2017) “gives voice to the people of Ferguson.” Presented by SFFILM and HERE FOR NOW.

 

WHOSE STREETS? director Sabaah Folayan and co-director Damon Davis.

 

OPERATION AVALANCHE (2016), director Matt Johnson’s “sly act of movie love for and by Kubrick fans,” presented by HERE FOR NOW.

 

2017 SPRING SERIES poster designed by envelope A+D.

 

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Apr. 27, 2017

Join the Discussion: National Bird Pre-screening Panel

This Friday’s selection, National Bird, gives rare insight into the U.S. drone program through the eyes of veterans and survivors. Presented as part of Indie Lens Pop-up, a nationwide neighborhood series bringing people together for film screenings and community-driven conversations, PROXY’s outdoor screening provides a provocative setting this important and urgent topic.

Ines Hofmann Kanna – producer of National Bird
Lisa – film protagonist
Asma – film protagonist
Pratap Chatterjee – Executive Director, CorpWatch

The discussion begins at 7:45pm with the screening following at 8:20—outside, in the community, at the PROXY Walk-in Theater.

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Mar. 15, 2017

The PROXY Spring Series Returns!

Spring has sprung; time to get out, get together and be heard!

Our Spring Series of free outdoor film screenings returns to the PROXY Walk-in Theater starting March 31. Truth, post-truth, politics and social upheaval—this year’s series explores the present moment through humor, pointed observation, and stark reflection. Empowering and enlightening, these stories bring us together to take on the challenges ahead.

Presented by HERE FOR NOW, the six-night series includes new independent film and one-of-a-kind collaborations with pioneering arts institutions. The FREE, Friday evening film programs begin at 7:45 pm with “doors” opening at 7:00 pm. Come early to claim a good spot, and be sure to review our tips for enjoying movies outside at PROXY.

 

Friday, March 31
Disposable Film Festival + HERE FOR NOW

FILM + FOOD

The Disposable Film Festival celebrates the democratization of media and the power of storytelling made possible by everyday digital devices. This year the DFF joins with HERE FOR NOW to present the fifth installment of its FOOD + FILM event series: sumptuous films about food paired with delectable treats from local food trucks. FOOD + FILM shares the cultural and creative aspects of food through artistic shorts, communicating a shared love for tantalizing and sensorial expression between the two mediums.

 

NEW DATE: Saturday, April 15
HERE FOR NOW

20TH CENTURY WOMEN

Written and directed by Mike Mills, 2016
“Annette Bening gives a subtle tour de force”—Sunday Times (UK)

Mike Mills’s latest comedy creates a moving portrait of family life in a moment of upending cultural change. Set in 1979 Santa Barbara, Dorothea (Annette Bening) is a single mother in her 50s raising her teenage son Jaimie (Lucas Jade Zumann) in a sprawling home with boarders and a cast of regulars. To help Jamie navigate the rapidly changing world, she enlists the help of punk artist (Greta Gerwig) and Jamie’s troubled best friend Julie (Elle Fanning). As this poignant and funny story unfolds, everyone ends up a little wiser. View trailer.

 

Friday, April 14
San Francisco International Film Festival + HERE FOR NOW

WHOSE STREETS?

Sabaah Faloyan, director, and Damon Davis co-director, 2017
“Searing film gives voice to the people of Ferguson”
—The Guardian

When police in Ferguson, Missouri, kill unarmed teenager Michael Brown and leave him lying in the street for hours, it marks a breaking point for the residents of St. Louis County. Grief, long-standing racial tensions and renewed anger bring together residents and supporters from around the country to hold vigil and protest, even as the national guard descends. Told by the activists and leaders who live and breathe this movement for justice, Whose Streets? is an unflinching look at the Ferguson uprising and a powerful battle cry from a generation fighting, not for their civil rights, but for the right to live.

 

Friday, April 21
HERE FOR NOW

OPERATION AVALANCHE

Directed by Matt Johnson, 2016
“A sly act of movie love for and by Kubrick fans”—Vulture

In 1967, during the height of the Cold War, two young CIA agents (Matt Johnson and Owen Williams) go undercover at NASA to investigate a possible Russian mole. In disguise as documentary filmmakers, they tap phones and break into offices while purporting to learn more about the Apollo project. But when they end up uncovering a shocking NSA secret—and a major government cover-up—they decide to embark on a new mission that may put their own lives at risk. View trailer.

 

Friday, April 28
Indie Lens Pop-Up + HERE FOR NOW

National Bird

Directed by Sonia Kennebeck, 2016
“A deeply disturbing look at drone warfare”—Washington Post

From executive producers Wim Wenders and Errol Morris, this documentary follows the harrowing journey of three U.S. military veteran whistleblowers determined to break the silence surrounding America’s secret drone war. Tortured by guilt for their participation in the killing of faceless terror suspects, and despite the threat of being prosecuted, these three veterans offer an unprecedented look inside this secret program to reveal the haunting cost of America’s global drone strikes. Director Sonia Kennebeck gives rare insight into the U.S. drone program through the eyes of veterans and survivors; the films images haunt the audience and bring a faraway issue close to home. View trailer.

 

Friday, May 5
The Exploratorium + HERE FOR NOW

(RE)ACTIONS

Explore forces that propel one action to the next! From bodies in motion to catalyzing reactions, Exploratorium Cinema Arts selects an energizing program of shorts from their film collection to motivate creativity and scientific inquiry through active viewership. With a hosted screening of 16mm and video work, this will be a night filled with inspiring images and interactive experiences. Featuring a combination of experimental film, colorful animation, and incisive documentary, the program offers visual impact and radical motivation.

 

About HERE FOR NOW

HERE FOR NOW creates centers of cultural vibrancy through temporary art and design interventions. An arts institution without walls, HERE FOR NOW provides equitable access to enrichment that spans public and private spheres. Through collaborations with artists and arts organizations, we work to educate and inspire, leaving a lasting legacy of optimism, promise, and a renewed sense of community.

HERE FOR NOW is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
DONATE TODAY!

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Nov. 29, 2016

Here’s to More Movies—Outside—in 2017! #GiveTuesday

Thank you for another magical year of movies,
music, dance, and community at PROXY.

Let’s enjoy more together outside in 2017!

Free cultural programming at PROXY is made possible by HERE FOR NOW, our nonprofit affiliate, and the generous support of our donors. Please make your tax deductible contribution today.

PROXY and HERE FOR NOW are projects of envelope A+D.

++++++++++++++++++++++++

SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR SPONSORS

Fort Point Beer Company
BIERGARTEN
Fig & Thistle
Adobe
The Recycled Theater Project
Julia Challinor + Piet Van Pieter
Sandy + Gers Bernhard
Tom Hendrickson + Margaret Trost
Helmut Kapcynski + Colleen Neff
Erica Tanov
Joanne Yi
Anish Jina
David Pilz
Lindsey Schott
Stuart Rickard
Adam Menter
Corey O’Neal
Daniel Cowles
Kristina Coleman
Craig Hamburg
Rachel Hendricks
Liz Keim

 

 

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Oct. 28, 2016

PROXY Fall Film Festival: Closing Week Program!

Tonight’s program of shorts films is cancelled due to rain, but we’re making up for it with a special closing week program featuring two screenings and bonus selections. Stay dry, and see you next week at the Walk-in Theater.

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 3

The Fits

Directed by Anna Rose Holmer, 2016
“Cinema poetry in motion” — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
+ short film selections

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 4

Captain Fantastic

Directed by Matt Ross, 2016 [R]
Best Director, Cannes Film Festival
+ short film selections

 

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Oct. 22, 2016

SF Chronicle’s Carl Nolte profiles Biergarten

“One of the great things about San Francisco is that sometimes the changes that have swept over the city produce good things, pleasant little spots that make people appreciate being a San Franciscan.” So begins Carl Nolte’s recent Native Son column on Biergarten, PROXY and the Hayes Valley renaissance–a classic lede from a journalist who has eloquently captured the City’s quirks, quandaries and characters for the San Francisco Chronicle for decades. Enjoy the full column here.

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Oct. 14, 2016

Rain Delay

Mother nature is bringing us some rain: good for the environment, but not so good for watching movies outside.

We are postponing the screening of The Fits to later during the Fall Film Festival.

Stay tuned and stay cozy. We’ll have more details soon.

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Oct. 11, 2016

Support Hayes Valley Artworks

[Update: This event has been postponed to Saturday, October 22, due to the forecast of rain.]

Come out on October 23 from 3:00-6:00 pm  to support the arts in Hayes Valley. That’s when Hayes Valley Art Works (HVAW) and the Hayes Valley Neighborhood (HVNA) are hosting a fundraiser to sustain HVAW’s large-scale art installations and community programs through spring 2017.

The centerpiece of this public event is an auction of original artworks created on discarded tablecloths by noted artists including Jeremy Fish and Stanley Mouse. The “tablecloth canvases” were donated by the San Francisco Hotel-Nonprofit Collaborative, which redirects hundreds of tablecloths destined for landfill to new creative uses.

Proceeds from this art show and sale will benefit San Francisco Bay Area artists as well as ongoing arts programming for the Hayes Valley Art Works space at Fell and Laguna Streets.

HVAW and HVNA Canvas Fundraiser
Saturday, October 22, 2016
3:00–6:00 pm

Featured artists:
Johnna Arnold
Michelle Echenique
Daniel Farnan
Jeremy Fish
Paulette Humanbeing
Stanley Mouse
Kate Rhoades
Emma Spertus
Emily Wick

Event Activities:
> Live auction of tablecloth canvases
> Glass blowing demos and a Glass Pumpkin Patch by Public Glass
> Tours “Present Ground” with curator Samantha Reynolds
> Light refreshments and more!

 

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Oct. 7, 2016

PROXY Fall Film Festival 2016

The PROXY Fall Film Festival returns on October 7, with five FREE Friday night movies that will move, inspire and delight. It all happens outdoors at the PROXY Walk-in Theater.

Come early for our pre-screening happy hour with Biergarten and Vive la Tarte starting at 5:30 PM. Movies begin at 7:30 PM.

Check out our updated FAQ for tips for enjoying movies outdoors together. Feel free to contact us with any other questions at info@proxysf.net.

Friday, October 7
Morris From America
Directed by Chad Hartigan, 2016 [R]
Sundance 2016 Awards for Screenwriting and Acting

Morris is 13, chubby, and loves the Notorious B.I.G. His single dad (Craig Robinson) just uprooted him from Brooklyn to move to Heidelberg, Germany. As an African-American teenager who likes to spit rhymes and freestyle, he’s a fish-out-of-water, adrift in a very white, very foreign new home. When he meets a beautiful and rebellious girl named Katrin, he instantly falls in love and she challenges him to come out of his shell. As Morris rides a roller-coaster of emotions, the film captures a heartwarming and disarmingly honest look at adolescence, acceptance, and father-son relationships — and the film achieves the rare feat of being both poignant and hilariously entertaining.

Featuring a breakout appearance by Markees Christmas, and an incredibly touching and nuanced performance by Craig Robinson, who has been receiving tremendous praise for his first dramatic role. View trailer.

Friday, October 14
The Fits
Directed by Anna Rose Holmer, 2016
“Cinema poetry in motion” — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

Toni is a young tomboy in a black Cincinnati neighborhood who trains as a boxer with her brother at a local community center. She becomes fascinated with an elite after-school dance team that also practices there. Enamored with their strength and confidence, Toni joins the dance group — eagerly learning routines, mastering drills, and even piercing her ears to fit in. When a mysterious outbreak of fainting and swooning spells, they call “the fits”, are embraced by the team as a peculiar rite of passage, Toni must decide how far she will go to fit in. View trailer.

Friday, October 21
Tickled
Directed by David Farrier and Dylan Reeve, 2016
“Terrifically entertaining” — Manohla Dargis, New York Times

After stumbling upon a mysterious tickling competition video online, journalist David Farrier reaches out to request an interview for a light, puff piece for New Zealand TV. But the response he receives is not what he expected — he is answered with virulent insults about his sexual orientation and threats of extreme legal action should he dig any deeper. Shocked but intrigued, David ignores these threats and starts investigating — a journey that takes him around the world, and leads him to uncover a bizarre and vast empire of harassment and abuse. The further he goes, the stranger, darker, and outlandishly-entertaining this detective story becomes. “Tickled” is a wild and fascinating ride through a secret wormhole into a hidden world of wealth, power, and anonymity. View trailer.

Friday, October 28
Short-Lived! — A Halloween-ish selection of films about life & death

To celebrate everyone’s favorite phantasmagorical weekend, come experience a night of short films that will haunt your mind, possess your imagination, and spook your soul. The program will feature some of the best, strangest, and most ingenious shorts from recent film festivals and beyond!

Friday, November 4  CLOSING NIGHT
Captain Fantastic
Directed by Matt Ross, 2016 [R]
Best Director, Cannes Film Festival 2016 

Deep in the forests of the Pacific Northwest, isolated from society, a devoted father (Viggo Mortensen) dedicates his life to transforming his six young children into extraordinary adults. But when a tragedy strikes the family, they are forced to leave this self-created paradise and begin a journey into the outside world that challenges his idea of what it means to be a parent and brings into question everything he’s taught them.

Viggo Mortensen shines in a fearless and emotionally raw performance, and writer/director Matt Ross (who plays Gavin Belson in “Silicon Valley” and who lives in Berkeley) delivers a heartfelt lesson about humanity in this fiercely-original and visually-stunning film. View trailer.

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Sep. 29, 2016

Fall Film Festival: Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions for enjoying the PROXY Fall Film Festival. Feel free to email us at info[at]proxysf.net with more!

> What is a walk-in theater?
The PROXY Walk-in Theater is an open-air venue with a cinema-quality screen and projector. It’s like a drive-in theater only without the cars.

> Where is PROXY?
PROXY is located in the heart of San Francisco, at the corner of Hayes Street and Octavia Boulevard.

> Do I need tickets?
Screenings are free and open to all. And because its outdoors, people are welcome to drop in throughout the evening. Tickets aren’t needed, but we encourage you to register so we can alert you about any program changes that may occur.

> Are there seats in the walk-in theater?
Most people enjoy movies at PROXY “picnic style” on blankets, our green turf (available for rent), or low camp chairs—claiming a spot on a first come, first served basis. There also is limited chair seating and a small reserved turf area for donors.

> Are the films suitable for families?
Our mission is to introduce the best of new film to as wide an audience as possible. However, some themes and content may not be for everyone. We’ve provided ratings when available, but please review each film to make an appropriate personal judgement for you and your family.

> Will food be available during the screenings?
We will have food and beer for sale on site starting at 5:30PM—with beer proceeds supporting ongoing programming at PROXY. Festival goers also can pack a picnic from home or enjoy take out from the Hayes Valley’s many great restaurants. Please note, laws prohibit outside alcohol at PROXY.

> What if it rains?
Rain happens. If it’s in the forecast, we’ll decide one day before whether to reschedule a screening. Those who have registered will receive an email alert about the change. Otherwise, watch for updates on Facebook, TwitterInstagram and our website,

> Won’t it be cold?
Fall evenings in San Francisco are cool to cold. We recommend bringing warm layers and a few friends to stay cozy.

>Is there parking close by?
Hayes Valley is well served by San Francisco’s transit systems and bicycle network. We encouraging using alternative transportation to attend all events at PROXY, but limited parking is available in nearby garages.

—Civic Center Garage: 355 McAllister Street (between Polk + Larkin)
—Performing Arts Garage: 360 Grove Street (between Gough + Franklin)
—CityPark Opera Plaza: 601 Van Ness Avenue (between Turk + Golden Gate)

> This is amazing, how can I help?
If you enjoy watching movies outside at PROXY, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to our affiliated nonprofit HERE FOR NOW.

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Sep. 8, 2016

Making Spaces Documentary Released!

Filmmakers Jason Whalen and Rebecca Morehiser have just released a trailer for Making Spaces, an independent documentary exploring the local roots of tactical urbanism. The film features many familiar faces from the incredible community of designers, planners and activists working in San Francisco and reminds us of what we have collectively contributed to this movement. Take a look, tell your friends, and visit makingspacedoc.com for details on screening dates.

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May. 13, 2016

A Year of Movies Outside

With the launch of the Walk-in Theater in June 2015, PROXY has fully realized our long-standing goal: establishing a a new kind of cultural institution that fosters equitable access to enrichment by dissolving barriers between art, experience and community. We want to thank all of you who joined us!

Nearly 2,000 film lovers, neighbors and visitors turned out for our Fall Film Festival highlighting the best of new independent film. Our just completed Spring Seriesfound incredible success thanks to new partnerships with The Exploratorium, KQED, McSweeney’s, Sundance, and the San Francisco International Film Festival—all celebrated institutions that welcomed the opportunity to experiment with an outdoor format.

To mark our first year of presenting film and live performances at PROXY, we will join again with SFJAZZ in hosting a Neighborhood Block Party. The festivities take place on Tuesday, June 7, from 5:00-10:00pm, so save the date and stay tuned for more details.

PROXY and the Spring Series are projects of envelope A+D, supported by HERE FOR NOW, our non-profit affiliate. Heartfelt thanks to all of our creative partners as well as our sponsors who have made the Spring Series possible: Adobe, Biergarten, Miette, and Ritual.

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May. 13, 2016

A Conversation with Sunset Magazine

The PROXY Walk In Theater was recently written up in the April issue of Sunset Magazine. Check out the article below!

Show starter

Thanks to mare than $100,000 in donations, a walk-in theater space now towers over Hayes and Octavia Streets—the intersection Proxy founder Douglas Burnham is helping transform into a cultural crossroads. This season, the architect behind Hayes Valley’s most innovative public space launches its first Proxy Spring Series, at the Proxy Walk-In Theater, with six weeks of films and cultural performances that are free and open to the public. Here, Burnham tells us what to expect. proxysf.net. -JS

Why open an alfresco theater?

It began with the Proxy project, where we turned vacant lots into a public space where culture, commerce, and community converge. The new Proxy Walk-In Theater is the next evolution-an outdoor theater that is free and open to the public. With it, we want to change people’s perception of public space, mainly that you can use minimal means to create a lovely cultural place without walls.

Tell us about the spring series.

It’s part film festival, part cultural collaboration. We’re working with some of the city’s biggest culture organizations like the Exploratorium, the San Francisco Opera, and SFJAZZ to curate seven evenings of film and live performances. It goes beyond using the space to show movies: It’s designing an event with them that is the result of a long dialogue. We might start out with the question, “What is it like to perform opera out in the city instead of, say, in a concert hall? How formal would that be?” I don’t know, but let’s see.

What kind of films can we expect?

We’re showing a selection of new films that are circulating on the festival circuit, like Sundance or South by Southwest. No blockbusters. Events will continue through June and include films from the Exploratorium’s archive that illuminate the sensory experience of the city. We’ll also be helping SFJAZZ kick off its summer jazz fest with two or three live bands followed by a related film. We want to grow from 7 films to 10 for the Fall Film Festival.

Describe the theater experience.

There’s just something magical about watching a movie outside, at night, with 450 strangers. The screen is 20 feet by 49 feet, so screen size and quality-wise, it’s like being at a traditional movie theater. The main difference is that the city is alive all around  you, which is part of the ambience. You’d think that could be a problem, but it actually adds to the experience. And the audio and visual qualities are state of the art, so don’t expect it to be the some as, say, watching Spaceballs in Dolores Park.

Are there concessions?

Yes, but it’s sort of picnic-style. Our neighbor, Biergarten, pours beers and we have one or two food trucks on hand each night, including Casey’s Pizza, J-Shack, and Lei-Feng Ramen Truck. Miette will also offer a selection of sweets. People bring their own chairs and blankets or you can buy them on-site. Plus, we rent patches of plush synthetic grass to sit on.

How does your background as an architect influence this?

As architects, we try to focus on designing immersive spaces that are connected to the culture of the people who use them. This is doing exactly that, but with live events that hopefully surprise and delight.

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Announcing the PROXY Spring Series!

With spring in the air, it’s time to head back outdoors with the PROXY Spring Series. Much more than movies alone, the series promises seven nights of cinematic treats, live performances, and visual surprises, presented in collaboration with pioneering arts organizations from SF and beyond.

PROXY is a new kind of cultural institution. Operating at the street-level where our free programming is open and accessible to all, PROXY is a platform for culture and community, connecting the arts with broader audiences.

All programming begins 7:45, but come early to claim a spot. And don’t forget to review our guidelines for enjoying movies outside together.

Saturday, March 26, 

PROXY FILM_Opening Night

Heart of a Dog

Directed by Laurie Anderson, 2015

Bring your dog night! 

Dog Adoptions from 5-7pm

“Hello, little bonehead. I’ll love you forever.” So begins musician and performance artist Laurie Anderson’s dream-like cinematic meditation on love, memory, and her bond with her beloved dog — a rat terrier named Lolabelle. Weaving together 8mm home movies, animation, photographs, and music, Anderson invites us on a hypnotic journey through her life and her mind. Both playfully funny and deeply inquisitive, the film is an unforgettable examination of the ways we make sense of our lives.

5 pm – 7 pm: Come early to meet some adorable, adoptable dogs from the San Francisco Animal Care and Control shelter.

Bring your dog with you to the movie, there will be dog treats for sale from Paw Patch Pastries

Saturday, April 2

PROXY + EXPLORATORIUM

Sense and Place

Short films presented by Exploratorium Cinema Arts

6:15 pm Pre-Show Exhibit 

Exploratorium Cinema Arts presents an interactive array of films designed to inspire wonder, play, and discovery. Drawn from the Exploratorium’s film collection, the selections include a mind-opening mix of short animations, experimental films, and sensual documentary work. This full night of visual delights features 16mm and video work rarely screened outside the museum.

Friday, April 8 POSTPONED DUE TO RAIN!

PROXY + KQED

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution

Directed by Stanley Nelson, 2015

7:15pm Pre-Show Conversation

Award-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson revisits the turbulent 1960s, when a new revolutionary culture emerged with the Black Panther Party as the vanguard. A conversation with local figures sets the stage for this timely look at a pivotal movement and all its reviled, adored, misunderstood, and mythologized history.

Friday, April 15

PROXY + MCSWEENEY’S

An evening with The Organist

Featuring a live performance by Christopher Owens (from GIRLS)

Join us for an evening under the stars with The Organist, an award-winning arts and culture podcast produced by McSweeney’s and the Believer magazine along with KCRW. Featuring a musically illustrated interview with Christopher Owens (GIRLS), followed by a live set of music, along with live storytelling and performances from some of the best writers and producers on the planet.

Thursday, April 21

PROXY + KQED

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution

Directed by Stanley Nelson, 2015

7:15pm Pre-Show Conversation

Award-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson revisits the turbulent 1960s, when a new revolutionary culture emerged with the Black Panther Party as the vanguard. A conversation with local figures sets the stage for this timely look at a pivotal movement and all its reviled, adored, misunderstood, and mythologized history.

Friday, April 22

PROXY + SUNDANCE

Award-winning and selected short films from the 2016 Sundance Film Festival 

A rare chance to see some of this year’s best short films, fresh from their debut at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. Featuring staff picks and award-winners, the evening will showcase emerging talent and unique visions. Sundance’s very own Senior Programmer for Short Films, Mike Plante, will be in town to present the films and share his insights.

Friday, April 29

PROXY + SF INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

Film to be announced with SFIFF Program on March 29th

Experience the SF International Film Festival outdoors with a free screening of one of this year’s official selections.

Tuesday, June 7 (5:00 pm to 10:00 pm)

PROXY + SFJAZZ

Second Annual PROXY-SFJAZZ Neighborhood Block Party

34th San Francisco Jazz Festival Kick-off

In a reprisal of last-year’s event, PROXY and SFJAZZ host a neighborhood block party to kick-off the 34th San Francisco Jazz Festival. This free community soiree features live music from Brass Band Mission and Beso Negro, accompanied by movies on the big screen, a beer garden, and food trucks.

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PROXY SPRING SERIES FAQs

Guidelines for Enjoying the PROXY Spring Series

 

Admission

Screenings are FREE and OPEN to all and are located at the PROXY WALK-IN THEATER at the corner of Hayes and Octavia. People are welcome to drop in throughout the evening and unless otherwise noted programming will begin at 7:45pm.

Content Suitability

Our mission is to introduce the best of new film and local talent to as wide an audience as possible. Some themes and content, however, may not be for everyone. We’ve provided ratings when available, but please review each film to make an appropriate personal judgement for you and your family.

Seating

Space at the PROXY Walk-in Movie Theater is first come, first served. We recommend arriving early to claim a good spot on the lot and get settled in. Bring blankets, low chairs, and anything else you need to sit comfortably on the ground, taking reasonable care not to block the view of those around you. (No barcaloungers, please!) Plots of synthetic turf will also be available to rent for the night!

Food and Drink

We will have food for sale on site, but festival goers also can enjoy take out from the Hayes Valley’s many great restaurants or pack a picnic from home. Please note: No personal alcohol is permitted at the PROXY site, but we will have beer for sale at each screening with proceeds supporting ongoing film programming and other events at PROXY.

Weather

If rain is in the forecast, check our web site for any weather-related schedule changes. Otherwise come prepared with warm layers to stay comfortable.

Parking

Hayes Valley is well served by San Francisco’s transit systems and bicycle network. We encouraging using alternative transportation to attend the PROXY Fall Film Festival, but limited parking is available in nearby garages.

 

CIVIC CENTER GARAGE

355 McAllister Street

(between Polk + Larkin)

 

PERFORMING ARTS GARAGE

360 Grove Street

(between Gough + Franklin)

 

CITYPARK OPERA PLAZA

601 Van Ness Avenue

(between Turk + Golden Gate)

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Nov. 20, 2015

It’s a Wrap!

The inaugural PROXY Fall Film Festival ended with the biggest night of the series. More than 450 film lovers turned out for last Friday’s screening of The Wolfpack, capping five weeks of free screenings at the PROXY Walk-in Theater. We’ll be back in January with a new season of screenings and multimedia programs, so stay tuned for details. Bringing culture and community together outside: Thats’s PROXY.

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Outdoor Film with FFF Collaborator + Filmmaker Malcolm Pullinger

This Friday is the final evening of the PROXY Fall Festival. Our curatorial collaborator Malcolm Pullinger shares his thoughts on outdoor movies, contemporary culture and the themes of this year’s selections.

 

Why do we love watching movies outdoors?

I’ve heard people claim it’s the modern equivalent of our ancestors gathering around a fire to tell stories, that it’s rooted in some kind of instinctive tribal behavior. I like the sound of that, but I don’t know if it’s true. Personally, I think there’s a sense of wonder and thrill in immersing yourself in the story of a film, while still being surrounded by the world of our every day life. There’s something fun in bringing those two parts of life together in one experience.

Why was the outdoor movie experience ready for reinvention?

There’s been a tectonic shift in the way we discover and watch movies. Going out to the movie theater used to be something we all did fairly regularly. Now, it’s more common for us to curl up with our laptop. This shift means that when we do go to the movies today, the experience is key. It should be special and exciting, a night out that stays with you. Here in San Francisco, outdoor movies have always created that kind of a memorable experience — but we noticed that they were usually designed to be massive events, held in a park, showing a Hollywood classic or a new blockbuster. We thought it would be interesting if we created events designed to showcase smaller, independent films, and create more of a neighborhood feel. It’s a way to bring back some of the intimacy and curiosity of strolling down the street to see what’s playing at your local movie theater. To excite people with a movie they might not otherwise see.

What were your goals in curating the festival?

We wanted to highlight new indie films with bold visions and impressive filmmaking chops — the incredible attention to detail and nuance in “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl”, the storytelling uniqueness of “Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter”, the low-budget ingenuity in “Turbo Kid”, the strange and fascinating true story in “The Wolfpack”. All of these films are also highly entertaining and engaging, and we knew they’d work well in an outdoor setting. There’s also an homage-to-cinema theme running through all of them. For “Secret Shorts”, we wanted to shine a spotlight on edgier and boundary-pushing visions — new ideas, new techniques, new risks that filmmakers around the world are exploring in their shorter work.

The selected films have sparked some strong opinions. That’s a good thing, right?

 

I think filmmaking is at its best when it pulls us out of ourselves, and shakes us up a bit. That could mean they surprise us and show us something we’ve never quite seen before. Sometimes it means they challenge a certain expectation we have about what a movie should be. I think when we experience something different it’s an opportunity to look at our own desires and emotions and values, and I think films are a great way to get a new vantage point for a moment. Plus, there’s nothing better than a good post-movie discussion with friends over a beer.

 

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Nov. 6, 2015

FFF SECRET SHORTS (revealed)

Listed in order of appearance:
The Love Competition
(2012)
directed by Brent Hoff
+
Emotional Arcade: live presentation
{The And} – Marcela & Rock
http://www.theand.us
Forever Over
(2014)
written and directed by Erik Schmitt
Palm Rot
(2015)
created and directed by Ryan Gillis
Tumult
(2012)
written and directed by Johnny Barrington
BÄR
(2014)
written and directed by Pascal Floerks
Slomo
(2013)
directed by Joshua Izenberg
Oh Willy
(2012)
written and directed by Emma De Swaef and Marc James Roels
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PROXY FFF FAQ

Guidelines for Enjoying the PROXY Fall Film Festival

 

Admission

Screenings are free and open to all located at the corner of Hayes and Octavia. People are welcome to drop in throughout the evening.

Content Suitability

Our mission is to introduce the best of new film to as wide an audience as possible. Some themes and content, however, may not be for everyone. We’ve provided ratings when available, but please review each film to make an appropriate personal judgement for you and your family.

Seating

Space at the PROXY Walk-in Movie Theater is first come, first served. We recommend arriving early to claim a good spot on the lot and get settled in. Bring blankets, low chairs, and anything else you need to sit comfortably on the ground, taking reasonable care not to block the view of those around you. (No barcaloungers, please!) Limited seating also will be available.

Food and Drink

We will have food for sale on site, but festival goers also can enjoy take out from the Hayes Valley’s many great restaurants or pack a picnic from home. Please note: No personal alcohol is permitted at the PROXY site, but we will have beer for sale at each screening with proceeds supporting ongoing film programming and other events at PROXY.

Weather

If rain is in the forecast (remember rain?), check our web site for any weather-related schedule changes. Otherwise come prepared with warm layers to stay comfortable.

Parking

Hayes Valley is well served by San Francisco’s transit systems and bicycle network. We encouraging using alternative transportation to attend the PROXY Fall Film Festival, but limited parking is available in nearby garages.

 

CIVIC CENTER GARAGE

355 McAllister Street

(between Polk + Larkin)

 

PERFORMING ARTS GARAGE

360 Grove Street

(between Gough + Franklin)

 

CITYPARK OPERA PLAZA

601 Van Ness Avenue

(between Turk + Golden Gate)

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Oct. 16, 2015

PROXY FALL FILM FESTIVAL ANNOUNCED!

October 16-November 13, 2015

PROXY is pleased to announce the inaugural PROXY Fall Film Festival, a five-week series of free Friday night screenings opening October 16 at the PROXY Walk-in Movie Theater.
The festival will feature recently released, best-of-show selections from festivals like SXSW and Sundance, focusing on independent and emerging voices in film—a line up more likely to be found in art houses than outdoors, for all to discover. Filmmaker Malcolm Pullinger helped to curate the selections, which center around the importance of filmmaking in the creation of culture and shared experience.
The festival represents the next chapter for PROXY and reasserts PROXY’s foundational interest in creating a vibrant center of culture and compelling content. With the festival, envelope a+d is remaking the outdoor movie experience into one that is contemporary, familiar, and delightful. At the walk-in movie theater, families, couples, groups of friends, and solo adventurers will have access to a unique urban experience of watching movies outside together and being part of PROXY’s growing community.
All screenings begin at 7PM at the PROXY Walk-in Movie Theater. Be sure to check out our guidelines for enjoying the festival and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for weather updates, special guests, film ratings and other information.

Friday, October 16

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl 

Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rajon, 2015 [PG13]

Winner of the U.S Grand Jury Prize (Dramatic) and the Audience Award at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. 

Greg is an awkward high-schooler, trying to coast anonymously through his senior year. He spends most of hsi time making whacky parodies of classic movies with his only friend, Earl. When Greg’s mom insists he spend time with Rachel–a classmate who has just been diagnosed with leukemia—he slowly discovers the rewards and risks of true friendship. Starring: Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, Olivia Cooke, Nick Offerman, Connie Britton, and Molly Shannon.

Friday, October 23

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter

Directed by David Zellner, Written by David & Nathan Zellner, 2015

Nominated for the U.S Grand Jury Prize (Dramatic) and winner U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Musical Score, 2014 Sundance Festival

Kumiko lives in a cluttered, cramped Tokyo apartment with her pet rabbit Bunzo, and works a tedious job for a nitpicky boss. When she discovers a battered VHS cassette of “Fargo”, she becomes convinced that the movie’s buried suitcase of cash is real, and heads off into the harsh Minnesota winter in hopes of finding the treasure.

Friday, October 30

Turbo Kid

Directed by  Anouk Whissell, François Simard, Yoann-Karl Whissell, 2015

Winner of 2015 SXSW Midnighters Audience Award; official selection, 2015 Sundance Film Festival

A special Halloween screening, this retro-futuristic nostalgic tribute to 80’s action-adventure films follows The Kid, a young solitary scavenger obsessed with comic books, traversing the post-apocalyptic wasteland on his BMX. After his his new friend, the perpetually upbeat Apple, is kidnapped by the evil overlord Zeus, the Kid dons the persona of his favorite hero to deliver justice and save the girl of his dreams.

Friday, November 6

Secret Shorts: Films, Live Experiences, and More!

New and unseen short films, live experiments, and interactive experiences — a team of top film programmers and installation artists will present a night of visual treats designed to delight and amaze!

Friday, November 13

The Wolfpack

Directed by Crystal Moselle, 2015 [R]

In-person appearance + Q&A with the director
Winner of the U.S. Grand Jury Prize (Documentary), 2015 Sundance Film Festival
Despite growing up on the Lower East Side, the six Angulo brothers know little of New York City or the outside world, having spent most of their lives locked away in their apartment. Nicknamed “The Wolfpack,” most of what they know of the world has been gleaned from the films they watch obsessively and recreate meticulously, using elaborate homemade props and costumes. After one of the brothers escapes the apartment, the others soon want to follow, leading to a chance encounter with first-time film director Crystal Moselle, whose extraordinary portrait captures the thrills of The Wolfpack’s discoveries and illustrates the transformative power of movies.
The launch of the PROXY Fall Film Festival is made possible by HERE FOR NOW and the generous support of:
450 Hayes by DDG / DM Development
PG&E
BIERGARTEN
Adobe
Recycled Theater Project
Gray Area Foundation for the Arts
Fort Point Beer Company
Manual Creative
Robin Wright
Julia Challinor + Piet van Peter
Jeff Smith + Carolyn Duryea
Helmut Kapczynski + Colleen Neff
Joseph Gratz
Max Braun
To learn more about sponsorship opportunities and how you can support the PROXY Fall Film Festival, contact us at info@proxysf.net.

 

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Sep. 28, 2015

Lend Us Your Support

Our lease extension for Lot L, home to the Biergarten, is up for approval this week, and never one to count our chickens, we’re asking for your help. If you love the Biergarten and support it’s continued (temporary) presence in Hayes Valley, please consider lending your support by turning out for the meeting. PROXY is near the top of the agenda.
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
10:00 am
City Hall, Legislative Chamber, Room 250
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Sep. 4, 2015

PROXY Shared Studio Portal Open Now

Shared Studios, a multidisciplinary arts, design and technology collective has just opened one of their portals at PROXY. The container adds to a roster of portals of live communication that exist in various unexpected cities around the world. Free 20 minute appointments are available to connect with portals in Honduras, Cuba, Iran and Afghanistan. They will be streaming from PROXY for the next three months and you can book your own appointment at their website here. Step in and say hi to someone you may not otherwise meet.

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Aug. 27, 2015

Reimagining Public Space with PUBLIC Bikes

PUBLIC Bikes doesn’t just make and sell stylish, practical, and enjoyable options for getting around on two wheels. The SF-born-and-based company was built in support of a vision of the world in which some of the public space that has been handed over to the automobile is reclaimed for the people.

On its blog, PUBLIC explores how this reclamation and transformation of urban space is happening around the world, so it only makes sense that they would get around to our little urban activation project happening in its backyard. Douglas Burnham, the founder of envelope A+D, the architecture firm behind PROXY, sat down with PUBLIC Bikes to talk about “how public spaces can be transformed into a dynamic places for interaction.” You can read the full interview here.

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Jul. 23, 2015

Kickstarter is over, but you can still support the #PROXYwalkintheater

We brought together a community of over 200 hundred people and raised over $80,000 during the Kickstarter campaign that ended last week. Thank you to everyone who donated! Your support shows us there is a desire for a free walk-in movie theater at PROXY—unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for us to meet our ambitious goal of $150,000. In the inimitable words of Coach Eric Taylor from Friday Night Lights (don’t fact check this, please): Go big or go home.

We went big and we came up short, but we’re not done yet. Over the past year, we’ve been busy behind the scenes creating a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization called HERE FOR NOW (HFN). HFN is an organization that will take the lessons we’ve learned through managing PROXY and use them to activate other underutilized urban areas.

One of HFN’s first orders of business will be to continue fundraising for the walk-in theater at PROXY. You can make a fully tax-deductible donation on its website.

Thanks again for being a part of the walk-in movie theater project at PROXY. We look forward to watching movies outside together.

 

 

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Jun. 9, 2015

#FinishTheBigScreen: We Need Your Help to Build a Walk-In Movie Theater at PROXY

Wouldn’t it be great to have a place in the center of San Francisco where you could watch free movies outside with your friends? We think so too, and we need your help to make it happen.

#FinishtheBigScreen: Help PROXY Build a Free Walk-In Movie Theater in San Francisco from PROXY SF on Vimeo.

PROXY is a scrappy project that has been willed into reality by a lot of people who believe that we need more compelling places to gather together in the City that are free and welcoming to anyone in the Bay Area. Head to our Kickstarter page to learn more about the project and check out the rewards we’ve rounded up for backers.

PROXY began as a way to transform a parking lot into a hub that brings together culture and commerce to serve its community. Join the campaign and be a part of bringing the next great public amenity to San Francisco.

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Apr. 29, 2015

Coming Soon: PROXY Walk-in Theater Kickstarter!

Those steel beams have been enigmatically looming over PROXY for long enough. We’re busy wrangling and herding and networking in preparation for what will sure to be a wild 30-day ride. On Tuesday, June 9th, we’re launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to finish the the walk-in movie theater at PROXY.

The money raised will go toward purchasing the necessary elements for an eventual PROXY Fall Film Festival. Those elements include a digital projector, a screen that will be able to withstand those strong Hayes Valley gusts of wind, a sound system, and the rights to screen the as-yet-unnamed-but-totally-awesome-films in public.

As a backer, you’ll not only feel good about being a crucial part of providing free, outdoor movies to the community, but you’ll also have the chance to gain access to backer-only special  events with select filmmakers and exclusive experiences with our beloved PROXY vendors (surf lesson + juice, anyone?).

We’re also pleased to announce the creation of a bona fide 501(c)3 nonprofit organization named HERE FOR NOW. HERE FOR NOW is a new kind of arts organization that creates centers of vibrancy through temporary activations focused on art and design. One of its first orders of business will be programming the PROXY Fall Film Festival. This means that you pledges will be 100% tax-deductible.

Even though we’re not launching until June, you can help us out by making sure you’re signed up to receive all of the news and updates about the campaign. Your guide to staying current is below.

Join the event on Facebook

Like HERE FOR NOW

Like PROXY SF; follow us on Twitter and Instagram

Tell your friends! #FinishTheBigScreen #ProxyWalkInTheater #ProxySF #HereForNowSF

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Apr. 21, 2015

VIDEO: The Taste Buds Roll into PROXY

The Taste Buds, Jessica Jean Jardine and Krissy Wall, rolled into PROXY to chat up founder/architect Douglas Burnham. Jessica and Krissy took a spin on the laundromat conveyor belt inside Aether and learned how we got into this business of blending public and private space. Plus, lots of little cameos from other PROXY vendors. Check it out!

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Dec. 15, 2014

Hayes Valley Who’s Who: Russell Pritchard and the Hayes Valley Art Coalition

History has a way of losing the individuals of movements to time; only a handful of pioneers and activists will make their way into the collective memory of an era and place. The transformation of Hayes Valley—from a neglected collection of eyesores bisected by the Central Freeway to a boutique shopping and dining district with national renown—is not immune to the tendency of those looking back to glaze over details in favor of a sweeping narrative.

It’s like discovering a treasure you weren’t looking for, then, to walk into an eclectic storefront on Hayes Street and find yourself discussing vintage home decor with someone who could be said to have literally made Hayes Valley what it is today. All of a sudden, each year following the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989 has a shape and a gravity.

“My roots are in Canada. I grew up on a farm and both of my parents were as committed to their community as I am to mine,” starts Russell Pritchard, the owner of Zonal, a vintage and vintage-quality home furnishings store. “It was always emphasized that you work hard for the community you’re a part of.”

Pritchard decided to make the move from New York City to San Francisco in 1990 after a good friend announced that he was moving westward. “My friend told me he was moving to San Francisco, and without thinking I blurted out that I was going too,” Pritchard explains. “I figure once you make a commitment you’d better follow through!”

Pritchard remained bicoastal for a time while he continued his work in advertising and set design, but it wasn’t long before he decided that he wanted a permanent presence in The City. “I came to Hayes Valley to look at an apartment that didn’t end up being suitable. I did see some stores, however: Victorian Interiors, Modernology, and Bugatti, which is where my shop Zonal is now. I ended up renting an apartment above Marlena’s [ed. where Brass Tacks now lives] and started looking over Bugatti for its owner. One day out of the blue I asked him if he would sell his shop to me, and that’s when I started Zonal.”

The 500 block of Hayes Street was where Pritchard met Madeline Behrens-Brigham, his longtime friend and fellow neighborhood booster. Behrens-Brigham owned Modernology when Pritchard rolled into town, and they immediately found common ground in wanting to improve the community where they both found themselves setting down roots. “We were on the wrong side of the tracks, and by that I mean the wrong side of the freeway. There wasn’t much other than junk stores, check cashing places, and our couple of shops. After the earthquake damaged the overpass, we decided to advocate for tearing it down.” After several years of building support and meeting with Cal Trans, the agency governing the Central Freeway,  the overpass was demolished and Hayes Valley was made whole again.

Knocking down the Central Freeway was akin to opening a basement door that had been closed off for years. The neighborhood’s dark and musty corners became flooded with light and fresh perspective. People could finally see the potential of a place that had such close proximity to City Hall, the fine arts district, Alamo Square Park, and the Fillmore District. Hayes Valley rode the dot com boom and weathered the dot com bust, contracting at times but carried through by the small business owners and perennial residents who remained devoted to their parcel of San Francisco’s forty-nine square miles. “We’re very fortunate that when we founded the neighborhood association and the merchants association we had a shared vision for the neighborhood that continues to this day,” shares Pritchard.

So how did Pritchard get involved in the business of art? “I’ve always supported local artists in my store. I’ve hosted openings and represented local artists.” he says. “In 2007, two years after Patricia’s Green had officially opened, an installation by the San Francisco Arts Commission had been removed. We wanted to fill the empty space with another piece, but money from the Arts Commission had dried up. So, Madeline and I being who we are, decided that if they can’t do it, we can. That’s why we founded the Hayes Valley Art Coalition.”

The Hayes Valley Art Coalition doesn’t get as much play as the HVNA and the Merchants’ Association, but their contributions to the culture of Hayes Valley are significant. “The main need we try to address is ensuring that there is always artwork at Patricia’s Green.” The group vets, selects, and fundraises for each sculpture that is installed.

The Art Coalition is also committed to fostering an inclusive art community in Hayes Valley, which led to Behrens-Brigham and Pritchard on their latest series of pop-up galleries exclusively showcasing Hayes Valley artists. The pop-ups, first at 580 Hayes and now in a shipping container at Proxy, aren’t officially supported by the Art Coalition, but that detail overlooks the fact that it’s still Pritchard and Behrens-Brigham at the helm. “We just sort of identify something we want to get done and we’re not afraid of tackling any challenge,” says Pritchard. “Do it in a vacant storefront, like the 580 Hayes gallery? Sure. In a shipping container? Why not?”

And it’s the welcoming nature of the galleries that Pritchard and Behrens-Brigham are most proud of. “I’m so excited that we’ve captured such a large Hayes Valley artist community. We love the new residents—they’re a good shot of new energy.” Pritchard continues, “Take Proxy, for instance. When Douglas [Burnham] presented the concept, we embraced it. It’s exciting. We want to make Hayes Valley the best it can be, and we think the way to do that is through community collaboration.”

You can find the works of over thirty Hayes Valley artists (some of whom you’ll be able to read about later this week right here on this blog) at the pop-up gallery at PROXY. The gallery will be open daily through December 24th from 9am to 7pm.

Photo courtesy of Madeline Behrens-Brigham.

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Nov. 26, 2014

Thanksgiving hours + specials at PROXY SF

This is about the time when we all look at each other, dumbfounded, and wonder aloud: How is it already Thanksgiving? Where did 2014 go?

The year of the Horse has indeed galloped by, but that just means that we have plenty to be thankful for. Check out our vendors’ special hours and holiday plans so that you can have a good excuse to get out of dishwashing duty.

Aether Apparel: Closed on Thanksgiving, regular hours the rest of the weekend.

Basic Training: Special Thanksgiving class at 8:30am with Alex Ho at the Palace of the Fine Arts. Register at basictrainingsf.com.

Biergarten: Closed on Thanksgiving, plus Taco Friday!

Half Hitch Goods: The Rolling Shoppe will be at PROXY  Friday through Sunday.

Hayes Valley Artists’ Pop-Up Gallery: 9am – 7pm daily; may have shortened hours on Thanksgiving.

Juice Shop: Closed on Thanksgiving, regular hours the rest of the weekend.

Ritual Coffee Roasters: Open 8am to 1pm! Fear not;  you shall be properly caffeinated when your family huddles up for the unnecessarily competitive flag football game in the backyard. Regular hours the rest of the weekend. The PROXY location is the only Ritual shop open on Thanksgiving.

Streets of San Francisco Bike Tours: Closed on Thanksgiving, regular hours the rest of the weekend.

 

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Nov. 19, 2014

Hayes Valley Artists’ pro bono gallerist: Madeline Behrens-Brigham

“Everyone is concerned I’m going to burn out,” laughs Madeline Behrens-Brigham after explaining how the Hayes Valley Artists’ pop-up gallery at 580 Hayes was conceived and implemented all in the span of three days. “And here we have four-and-a-half weeks [at PROXY] when we’ll be open seven days a week. But to have a space to show and sell art in Hayes Valley is a wonderful opportunity.”

Starting on November 26, the Hayes Valley Artists will be hosting their second pop-up gallery, this time in an auxiliary container adjacent to Biergarten at the corner of Linden and Octavia at PROXY. The holiday gallery will be open seven days a week until December 24th. Though Behrens-Brigham would insist it’s a collaborative effort, it’s hard not to identify her gumption and dedication as crucial to carving out a place for art and artists in the dynamic landscape of Hayes Valley.

Behrens-Brigham has been an energetic fixture of the Hayes Valley art community and community at large for over a quarter of a century. Twenty four years ago, she opened a store called Modernology on the 500 block of Hayes Street,  when she met Russell Pritchard, the owner of the shop Zonal. “We were the ‘bad’ block on the bad side of the freeway,” Behrens-Brigham says, referring to the elevated Central Freeway that once ran through Hayes Valley. Rent was cheap, but the shop owners needed a way to convince people to take a chance on their stretch of the street.

They turned to art. Both Behrens-Brigham—an artist herself—and Pritchard showed works from artists in their storefronts and began connecting local artists to form a tight-knit community. They started a  block party that will be celebrating its twenty-third incarnation in December. Eventually she and Pritchard were instrumental in building the neighborhood support to have the freeway taken down after it was damaged in 1989’s Loma Prieta Earthquake.

Though Behrens-Brigham closed her shop to become a design consultant and pursue her own artistic ambitions, she and Pritchard remained close. When funding dried up from the San Francisco Arts Commission in 2007, the pair decided to co-found the Hayes Valley Art Coalition in order to raise money for public art in the newly dedicated Patricia’s Green park. Since then, the organization has been the primary source of funding for all of the sculptures that have been installed in the park.

Behrens-Brigham has been widening her involvement with the artistic community beyond the Hayes Valley Art Coalition. She’s co-chairing the Arts, Culture, and Entertainment (ACE) committee in the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association. “ACE is attracting more of the young people moving in,” she notes. “It’s important to welcome all of the new people. They want to participate and play as much as the people who’ve been here a long time. Yes, there are a lot of changes, but we have to welcome them with open arms.”

The recent 580 Hayes pop-up gallery and the forthcoming holiday pop-up gallery at PROXY aren’t explicitly sponsored by any of Behrens-Brigham’s other art organization affiliations; they’re side projects that promote the kind of artistic sharing and unity that have come to characterize Hayes Valley over the past 25 years.

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Oct. 29, 2014

What do you want to do before you die?

It’s a simple question, and one you’ve certainly considered in quiet moments as you’ve shuttled under the bay on BART or looked out over the Pacific at the top of Mt. Tam. But the question’s simplicity belies the intimacy of sharing those desires in a public place, even anonymously.

The New Orleans-based artist Candy Chang came up with the idea, a wall where people share what is important to them, after losing someone close to her. She wanted to remind herself and others of what really matters, especially when the mundanity of the workday grind makes it difficult to maintain that perspective. The wall was immediately successful, and since then Chang has created a set of tools and resources for anyone to bring a “Before I Die” wall to their community. The wall has been recreated in over 30 languages and 60 countries since 2011.

San Francisco’s installment of the wall was brought to PROXY by Hayes Valley neighbor The Bold Italic.  Chang is the keynote speaker for their upcoming conference The Sum, which they “sum up” (groan) as an event that “will empower guests to see themselves, their work, their free time, and their city from fresh angles, giving them the tools and the inspiration to collectively boost their creative output”.

PROXY has long been a fan of Chang’s work; it aims to shift a person’s relationship to a place by encouraging them to participate in the community, if only briefly. In this way, the wall supports PROXY’s guiding principles of leveraging the notion of the temporary to pull people into the present moment and inserting moments of serendipity and delight throughout the city for all to experience.

Stop by the corner of Linden and Octavia before November 8th to join in the hundreds of others who have shared their dreams, wishes and hopes for what’s on the horizon.

All photos by Sierra Hartman for The Bold Italic. 

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Oct. 9, 2014

a YouTube playlist for your #HayesValley #tbt curiosity

There’s a YouTube channel called New Hayes Valley that has been posting videos of a Hayes Valley past. We love this panoramic shot of the surface-level parking lot that used to be where PROXY sits now. Such inviting barbed wire fence…Their Twitter feed is also packed with “remember when” reminiscing that highlights just how rapidly Hayes Valley has blown up.

Then there are the videos of people answering the question, “What do you think of the new Hayes Valley?”.  Authorship and intention behind the videos are unknown, though it seems likely that they’re being created by a person or people who knew the old Hayes Valley, and are using these mini-interviews as a way of investigating how newcomers to their beloved neighborhood understand Hayes Valley now.

As you might expect, the opinions expressed in the videos fall everywhere on the spectrum from “I only know the new Hayes Valley and I love it!” to “I miss the old Hayes Valley and want things to be the way they used to be!”.

It’s worth a couple minutes of your time to watch a few interviews (they’re bite-sized segments) if only to hear community members give their two cents on the hotly debated transformation of Hayes Valley and San Francisco at large, rather than another sensationalist trend piece that makes the Google Bus argument.

We’re quite obviously a part of the new Hayes Valley, but we respect the history of this place and the people and businesses who paved the way for the moment Hayes Valley is experiencing now. We created the concept for PROXY knowing that it would end in order to make way for affordable housing. We want to positively influence the community in the time that we have (until 2021 for those keeping score at home). There was a time before us, and there will be a time after us. Let’s make the most of it.

Interested in seeing how you can get involved with PROXY? Hit us up.

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Aug. 27, 2014

PROXY_ART: Transient Havens Rundown

Almost as good as having seen it in the flesh are these photos of the art exhibition Transient Havens that touched down at PROXY earlier in August. Artist Christian Valla documented his fellow SFAI artists’ works, including pieces by show organizer and teacher Valentin Ruhry, Noah Brill, Carl Martin, and Nancy Winkelmann.

Are you interested in showing your artwork at PROXY? Tell us more!

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Aug. 25, 2014

The Bold Italic’s Microhood 2014 is in the books

The second annual Hayes Valley Microhood has passed us by, and officially marks the beginning of the march toward autumn. We were happy to welcome back our friends and organizers of the event, The Bold Italic, as well as the organizations who joined us for our first Community Organizations and Non-Profits Fair, which included:

Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association

Pacific Institute/AgeSong

SF LGBT Community Center

Friends of the Urban Forest

Hayes Valley Bakeworks

Below are a few photos we snagged while enjoy the festivities, but you can find more pics in round-ups by Hoodline and The Bold Italic.

Pictured above: Aether Apparel hosted electric skateboard company Boosted Boards.

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Jul. 2, 2014

NOW OPEN: The Juice Box is live

After surviving her harrowing trip across the Bay Bridge and getting the full interior treatment while on site, the Juice Shop Juice Box swung open her doors and started slinging juice to the thirsty folks of Hayes Valley on Saturday. We were sad to see the ever-charming #Narney roll out of PROXY for the last time, but that just means somewhere else in the Bay Area is about to reap the benefits of their refreshing juices.

The hours are same (7am – 7p daily) and the juices are just as nourishing. Stop by soon.

 

 

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Jun. 13, 2014

PHOTOS: Basic Training Launch Party

After months of anticipation following a successful Indiegogo campaign, the Basic Training community fitness hub launched at PROXY on June 7th. Hundreds of people turned out to show their support for hacking the city in ways that support wellness.

Take a look at photos below of the free inaugural classes, live music and lotsa sunshine.

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May. 20, 2014

Photoshop IRL

Lot K’s history as a parking lot has had a lasting legacy, especially in the minds of people desperate for parking during peak hours in Hayes Valley. When envelope A+D got the keys to the site in 2010, the lot transitioned from a public pay lot to supporting car share companies Zipcar and local favorite City Car Share. Though more in line with our urbanist ideals, even a car sharing lot made a large portion of PROXY unwelcoming and unsafe to pedestrians and cyclists and not nearly unwelcoming enough for unwanted renegade parked cars.

We made plans to transition out of the parking game altogether, but the white lines indicating the parking spaces of the past often proved too tempting for those in search of a quick place to park while they ran an errand or two. Finally, collaborating with Basic Training to build their free community fitness hub became the impetus to stop talking about the car problem and do something about it. envelope A+D worked with Basic Training and Matt Hulme of Biergarten, a graphic designer, to create a ground graphic that would not only erase the physical markings of the former parking lot, but also support fitness and play, like agility drills and what will certainly be a number of innovative iterations of the playground classic tag. The final version of the pixelated graphic is below.

The black as black asphalt was poured over PROXY yesterday, and it looks almost too black to be real. Though the midnight good looks will be a temporary condition in our windy and dusty corner of The City, it was quite a sight to behold, especially with the imposing steel beams rising out of the ground along Hayes Street.

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May. 19, 2014

Coming up steel beams

Remember those really big holes that we drilled into the ground a few weeks ago? Their 32-feet-tall matches made in heaven were dropped into place on Friday.

In the near future, aside from being a hot Hayes Valley conversation piece, the poles will be the steady base for Basic Training‘s monkey bar wall. Potential meanwhile uses will obviously traffic in the photo trickery arena, because a frame looming that large in the sky is hard not to play with on while Instagramming your way to work.

But you’re a smart person. You can probably intuit that even for load-bearing monkey bars, this structure is a bit overkill for that intended use. You would be right, amateur sleuth, but mum’s the word until a few logistical items are ironed out on our end. Check back for more info (hint: especially as we near July).

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Apr. 29, 2014

To PROXY or Bust

Yesterday, envelope A+D’s stint as a fabrication yard ended as the Juice Box for Juice Shop was packaged, forklifted and trucked to its new home at PROXY. Though the trip across the Bay Bridge was potentially harrowing, the job went off without a hitch—perhaps because the build crew was so balanced and zen? This video of eAD freelancerTommy mindfully wrapping the box in plastic wrap is perfect for your next desk-side meditation session (bonus points for willing yourself to ignore the vertical video format).

UPDATE: now with more videos, including the crowning moment of the Juice Box rolling down Octavia Street with PROXY in its sights.

Plenty of crowd-sourced photos of the moving spectacle from the eAD staff are below as well.

meditative wrapping from PROXY SF on Vimeo.

meditative wrapping pt. 2 from PROXY SF on Vimeo.

Juice Box rolls into PROXY from PROXY SF on Vimeo.

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Apr. 21, 2014

If it’s not neon, it shouldn’t be on

 

The earth corers have left and all that remain are three unassuming plywood barriers warning passersby of the holes that lie beneath. Below are a few snap shots of what PROXY looked like on this overcast day in Hayes Valley, featuring Basic Training‘s fitness poles, the new bathroom container, and the new aluminum sign overseeing Hayes and Octavia.

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Apr. 17, 2014

PROXY x AETHER x BASIC TRAINING

Now that dirt is flying at PROXY, let’s quicken the drumbeat leading up to Basic Training‘s grand opening. Earlier this week PROXY’s retail anchor Aether Apparel released its latest in a series called AETHERfocus, which highlights people, products and places of interest to Aether’s clientele. They profiled Jenn Pattee, the founder of Basic Training. It’s enough to make  you wish it were raining so that you could put on some Aether gear and test its limits.

AETHERfocus: Basic Training from Aether Apparel on Vimeo.

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Apr. 17, 2014

Poking around

Leading up the latest round of construction in preparation for Basic Training’s fitness hub, the guys involved with the project referred to a “post hole digger” that would be making its way to PROXY. Ahem, gentlemen: that’s probably a bit of an undersell.

UPDATE: And here’s the earth corer in action.

Drilling at PROXY SF from PROXY SF on Vimeo.

 

Drilling at PROXY SF_2 from PROXY SF on Vimeo.

Drilling will continue today and concrete footings are planned to be poured tomorrow to anchor the monkey bar/TRX wall, artfully rendered by envelope a+d below.

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Apr. 15, 2014

An aluminum memo re: what’s next

If the name PROXY has done its job, even if you haven’t read the mission statements and project goals, you might intuit that it wasn’t designed to be a neighborhood mainstay for decades to come. With a hard stop in December of 2020, the project timeline feels like working in architecture dog years. It will be sooner than we expect that vendors will be lifting their containers to greener pastures, leaving room for affordable housing in PROXY’s wake.

When architectural elements, usually thought to be permanent fixtures, are changing at a faster clip, it’s especially important to keep the neighborhood informed. Both PROXY and the City of San Francisco want to give local residents and visitors to PROXY a fairer shake than explaining away the abrupt disappearance of a local favorite with “Time was up! Didn’t you read our website?”.

Cue the aluminum sign that we commissioned, pictured above. It’s being installed at PROXY this week as a visual reminder that PROXY is on borrowed time, and we think that’s the best way to serve this corner in Hayes Valley.

 

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Apr. 9, 2014

It’s no Kool-Aid pitcher, but this Juice Box has reclaimed wood

For the past few months, two spots in envelope a+d‘s parking lot have been converted to an ad hoc fabrication yard to build Juice Shop‘s Juice Box, set to open at PROXY sometime this spring. 

envelope a+d is committed to closing the design loop by fabricating a lot of their designs in-house—they have a full-time furniture designer and fabricator on staff. By keeping things in the firm, envelope’s designers are able to see a project through from its inception to its completion. The vertical integration of the design/build process allows envelope’s designers and architects to more fully understand how their concepts perform in the real world, giving them more control over the final quality of the product and allowing for them to participate in a more iterative design process.

The Juice Box is also remarkable because it will be the first temporary, deployable structure at PROXY that isn’t a modified shipping container. The 10’x8′ cube is clad with exterior reclaimed redwood siding and a steel door, also clad in redwood, opens up to reveal interior hickory facing and custom cabinets. The box sits on top of a metal pallet that will make it possible for the whole kit and kaboodle to traverse the Bay Bridge by truck on its way to PROXY (and beyond).

Take a look at photos of the construction below.

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Apr. 1, 2014

PROXY “Exposed”

For those of you who stopped keeping up with Scandinavian crime thrillers once the final American film installment of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series was made, you’ll be glad to know that Americans are still keen on adapting novels from the Land of the Midnight Sun.

Best-selling Swedish author Liza Marklund‘s series, featuring crime journalist Annika Bengtzon, has been optioned for a pilot called “Exposed”, set to air on ABC. According to Deadline, “Exposed” “centers on an investigative journalist who will stop at nothing to uncover the truth, including making questionable alliances.”

Mary Elizabeth Winstead, starring in the role of (the Americanized) Anna, got a lot of coffee at Ritual while filming in between downpours of rain. Winstead was reportedly a hot commodity going into the pilot season and turned down a number of roles before she was cast in “Exposed”. Other projects you may remember her from run the gamut from Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter to the indie flick Smashed.

With “Exposed” following hot on the heels of HBO’s successful new series “Looking”, we’re looking forward to more projects looking to the hills and fog of San Francisco when it’s time to choose a location.

Is your project looking for a place to shoot? Contact Lindsey Schott for information on filming at PROXY.

 

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Mar. 31, 2014

Free wifi at PROXY that’s surprisingly good

In a town brimming with freelancers and tech folks working from home, a pleasant place for meeting and collaborating is a valuable commodity to have in your neighborhood. Thanks to the free wifi provided by the City of San Francisco’s Office of Technology, PROXY is that place for Hayes Valley. Always free, always on, and always a stone’s throw away from all of our vendors for a well-deserved diversion from work. Plus, sunshine; can’t get that in most coffee shops.

network: proxywifi ||| password: proxysf

 

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Mar. 24, 2014

Photos of PROXY: Ritual Coffee Roasters

Ritual Coffee Roasters is a popular meeting place at PROXY, and for good reason; they’ve got excellent coffee and a set of patio chairs for sipping and discussing whatever the matters at hand may be. Owner Eileen Hassi grew her business to be one of the premier third wave coffee players in the country a few short years after starting out as a barista in the Pacific Northwest. Plus, there are complimentary dog biscuits alongside the people offerings, which is a boon for the many dog lovers who find themselves strolling around Hayes Valley.

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Mar. 24, 2014

Photos of PROXY: Biergarten

If people don’t immediately know what or where PROXY is, you can usually count on things clicking into place once you mention Biergarten: “Oh yeah, the beer garden in Hayes Valley!”

Biergarten is owned and managed by Aaron and Matt Hulme, the same brothers who own and operate long-time neighborhood favorite Suppenkuche, located a block west on Laguna and Hayes. Biergarten is one of the original PROXY vendors who first established the project as a place to gather and spend time soaking up the #beerlight.

Though Suppenkuche was originally going to cater Biergarten using cargo bikes, the German bar bites are made in a container fitted with all the trappings of a kitchen. The lines often extend beyond the chevron wooden gate at the entrance, but it moves relatively quickly and any dampened spirits are lifted once a beer and pretzel are in hand.

 

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Mar. 24, 2014

Aether Apparel’s “Making of” video

Aether Apparel commissioned the talented Ryan Pettey of Satellites Receive to document the making of their first stand-alone store at PROXY in early 2013.

Check out more photos of the construction process as well as the finished building over here.

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Mar. 24, 2014

Photos of PROXY: Aether Apparel

Aether Apparel specializes in design-conscious technical outerwear that not only looks good waiting in line at Biergarten but performs when you’re backpacking in the Sierras. When they became the retail anchor at PROXY, we knew we needed to capture Aether’s urban adventurer ethos for their first stand-alone store.

We stacked and staggered three 40’ shipping containers to craft a striking urban edge rising straight out of the asphalt. The second level glass-encased cantilevered storefront juts out over the sidewalk on Hayes and lends a little bit of danger to the lounge area. To accommodate more storage in the tall and narrow space, we installed a custom vertical dry-cleaning conveyor belt system that also functions as front of house display.

So how did shipping containers become Aether Apparel’s sophisticated showroom? The photos below pull back the curtain on how it all came together.

 

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Feb. 18, 2014

proto_PROXY: Superstudio

PROXY, an experiment in flexible urbanism, inspired by the provocative visions of speculative architecture studios of the 1960s and ‘70s, seeks to answer a set of questions: How responsive to change can we expect a city to be? Are there strategies for re-imagining the urban condition that can be derived from the provocative visions of the architects who have come before us? How should we conceptualize and inhabit the space between the permanent, durable city and the (non-architectural) network of our connected devices?” 

proto_PROXY takes a look at envelope a+d’s influences and how they shape PROXY’s manifestation at the corner of Hayes and Octavia in San Francisco.

Often mentioned in the same breath as UK architecture group Archigram, Italian Superstudio similarly imagined a future where nomadist technology challenged the top-down planning favored by architecture schools and governments.

Superstudio published a series of articles in the magazine Casabella that projected a wired, interconnected construct where life, commerce and education happen in an open landscape condition. People are linked to the grid through the Supersurface: a ubiquitous interface that unites humankind across the surface of the Earth. By allowing people to directly connect to the grid anywhere it exists regardless of landscape (hello, Internet prophesy), the Supersurface eliminates the need for formal urban structures.

And, fear not if you were concerned this would be a sterile, ascetic existence: this is a future with a strong hedonistic edge: good wine, good food and communality that is enhanced by a more direct inhabitation of the world’s surface.

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Feb. 18, 2014

proto_PROXY: Marshall McLuhan

PROXY, an experiment in flexible urbanism, inspired by the provocative visions of speculative architecture studios of the 1960s and ‘70s, seeks to answer a set of questions: How responsive to change can we expect a city to be? Are there strategies for re-imagining the urban condition that can be derived from the provocative visions of the architects who have come before us? How should we conceptualize and inhabit the space between the permanent, durable city and the (non-architectural) network of our connected devices?

proto_PROXY takes a look at envelope a+d’s influences and how they shape PROXY’s manifestation at the corner of Hayes and Octavia in San Francisco.

Marshall McLuhan was a Canadian philosopher and pioneer in the study of media theory. You may know his catchy expressions like “the medium is the message” and “global village”. McLuhan is well-regarded for not only turning pretty phases, but for theorizing about how media impact social interactions.

McLuhan wrote about the changes brought about by Gutenberg’s printing press in his 1962 book “The Gutenberg Galaxy”. Through the advent of movable type, visual culture was privileged over the oral/aural culture that had been dominant throughout history. According to McLuhan, this contributed to the proliferation of trends in the Western world like individualism, democracy, protestantism, capitalism and nationalism.

But, as we in the 21st century could probably intuit, the ways in which we communicate have shifted again in the age of the Internet and mobile devices that keep us on the grid at all times of day or night. Turns out, McLuhan beat us to the punch; also in “Gutenberg Galaxy”:

“The next medium, whatever it is — it may be the extension of consciousness — will include television as its content, not as its environment, and will transform television into an art form. A computer as a research and communication instrument could enhance retrieval, obsolesce mass library organization, retrieve the individual’s encyclopedic function and flip into a private line to speedily tailored data of a saleable kind.”

McLuhan actually lost favor among media theorists for a few decades near the end of the 20th century, but for reasons that are obvious, his work has been given more credence since the dawn of the Internet Age.

The connectedness afforded us by the Internet and our iPhones has revved up the pace of life. Yet, the city as a physical social construct seems frozen; a durable entity that is slow to adapt or respond to the advent of our networked culture and our mediated lives. PROXY aims to mitigate the discrepancy between our digital lives and our physical lives. What if we looked at the built environment as merely frames for content to flow through? Information technology borrows the word architect to describe the design of complex systems and networks; what if the transfer of ideas became a two-way street and we adopted “responsive design” as the way to build for today?

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Feb. 18, 2014

proto_PROXY: Archigram

PROXY, an experiment in flexible urbanism inspired by the provocative visions of speculative architecture studios of the 1960s and ‘70s, seeks to answer a set of questions: How responsive to change can we expect a city to be? Are there strategies for re-imagining the urban condition that can be derived from the provocative visions of the architects who have come before us? How should we conceptualize and inhabit the space between the permanent, durable city and the (non-architectural) network of our connected devices?

proto_PROXY takes a look at envelope a+d’s influences and how they shape PROXY’s ongoing evolution at the corner of Hayes and Octavia in San Francisco.

Archigram, a London-based avant garde architectural group active in the 1960s and ‘70s, trafficked in grand ideas for how we might create a more interconnected culture. Their hypothetical project Instant City re-imagined nomadism; airships, trucks and trailers travel the countryside, bringing with them all the traditional and non-traditional trappings of a city. PROXY activates two formerly vacant lots; imagine activating acres and acres of land in rural anywhere? Entertainment, information or health services not readily available could be provided during an Instant City’s tenure. Learn more about Archigram here and here.

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Feb. 18, 2014

Origin Story, Part 4: HERE FOR NOW: Call to Action

As part of AIA SF’s 2011 Architecture and the City festival titled Architecture of Consequence

envelope a+d [link to About section that mentions envelope on proxysf.net] published the zine ON SITE IN THE CITY. Made in part to supplement the exhibition, the zine supported the firm’s dialogue with Dutch Firm ZUS about how progressive design and creative problem solving can address many of our most pressing urban issues, from decreased social cohesion and unsustainable food systems to diminishing free time. 

This excerpt originally appeared in ON SITE IN THE CITY as part of “PROXY: An Experiment in Flexible Urbanism” by Douglas Burnham. 

While we foresaw the ways in which PROXY would transform the neighborhood and the city, we did not anticipate the transformative effect it would have on us. Our engagement with PROXY has altered how we understand the role of the architect as an actor in the creation of the city, and, due to this new understanding, it has fundamentally changed the structure and content of our studio. It is our sense, perhaps through direct experience, that the architect’s role in our current culture has been narrowing into one who is merely a service provider, or a stylist or packager of programs. Consequently, too much work is executed unthinkingly, not enough questions are asked, and not enough meaningful territory is staked out. Our engagement with PROXY has expanded our notions of what is possible, of what we should be undertaking, as architects, as thinkers, as active creators of the emerging urban condition.

Indeed, this project required that we assume multiple roles not only as architects, but as urban planners, developers, fabricators, fundraisers, philanthropists, cultural curators, good neighbors, and responsible citizens. Acting in these varied roles forced us to reconsider our responsibilities and relationship to the city. We learned that the larger network of conditions— the urban, the cultural, the neighborhood, the experiential, the economic—requires us to operate beyond a bottom-line mode of thinking and to consider the creation of places of quality within the city as a calling of a higher order. The ethic of a flexible urbanism extends beyond the deployment of vendors in mobile containers (or other content frameworks) to incorporate a process of thinking about the city as a vibrant, living construct that is constantly in the process of becoming.

Our motto for the PROXY project “HERE FOR NOW” is as much a recognition of the fact that we only have a short term lease on these lots (that we understand the project as having a fixed, short life), as it is a call to engage: to seize the moment, immerse oneself in direct experience, and enjoy the intensity that urban life has to offer. A full-scale, real-time experiment into the mechanisms of a flexible urbanism, PROXY demonstrates that by embracing the need for change in the city, we not only heighten our engagement with the surfaces and fabric of the city, but with each other.

More installments:

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Feb. 18, 2014

Origin Story, Part 3: In Practice: Making PROXY Real

As part of AIA SF’s 2011 Architecture and the City festival titled Architecture of Consequenceenvelope a+d [link to About section that mentions envelope on proxysf.net] published the zine ON SITE IN THE CITY. Made in part to supplement the exhibition, the zine supported the firm’s dialogue with Dutch Firm ZUS about how progressive design and creative problem solving can address many of our most pressing urban issues, from decreased social cohesion and unsustainable food systems to diminishing free time. 

This excerpt originally appeared in ON SITE IN THE CITY as part of “PROXY: An Experiment in Flexible Urbanism” by Douglas Burnham. 

PROXY is being implemented in mostly discrete (but partially overlapping) phases, starting with food, then art, then retail and, finally, event/play. We conceive of the project as continuously being in the process of becoming, of constantly changing and developing new aspects. The reasons for the phased implementation of the project are both conceptual and practical. Conceptually, we are interested in the experiment of a project that is constantly in flux, thwarting the notion that the value of architecture is in its final, rarified, condition (and confounding the question: “When will it be done?”). Practically, we are not only the designers of the project, we are also its developers (though our sense of that word may be closer to “director/producer” than “developer”). Assuming this latter role has presented new challenges as well as unforeseen benefits.

Due to the economic downturn, banks would not touch this project, especially at its outset. Lacking access to conventional forms of financing, we were forced to adopt an innovative approach to funding the project: we tapped into the personal capital that we have developed in our work as architects over the past two decades. Most of the active contributors to the project have come from our clients or from word-of-mouth recommendations made by our clients and contacts. We secured a loan for infrastructure improvements (with generous terms) from a longterm client who is interested in supporting our work, and we convinced the vendors and content providers to fund the design and fabrication of their own components within the project. Upcoming phases of the project draw upon both pure philanthropy for the art component and corporate sponsorship of the frameworks and programming for retail and events. Although arduous and time-consuming to assemble, these various sources of funding have broadened the reach and acceptance of the project beyond the usual suspects to include artists and artisans, philanthropists and new business owners.

The process of realizing PROXY required not only creative funding strategies but strong relationships fostered by open communication with and between the city agencies that promote economic development and regulate the built environment. The fact that this project is on city-owned land and was initiated in response to a request for proposals from the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development was critical to its actualization. However, because the project falls between so many building, health and utility company definitions, nearly every turn had a roadblock that had to be cleared through intense discussion and clarification. For example, the Building Code deems “temporary” as ninety days. Thus, under the Building Code, proxy  is treated as “permanent” and must meet the full criteria for structures that are meant to last for decades (if not centuries).

On the other hand, the utility company, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), defines “temporary” as anything in existence less than five years, the hitch being that “temporary” projects have to pay for the cost of their utility connections up-front, whereas PG&E automatically amortizes the cost of their power connections over decades for “permanent” projects. Since PROXY is temporary in PG&E’s view, it must pay the full cost of its utility connections from the start. Moreover, Building and Planning Department fees do not distinguish between permanent and temporary uses, with temporary projects being subject to the same fee schedule as a use that will be in existence for decades longer. Any temporary project will pay more in fees per year of use than permanent projects within the city.

Given these hurdles and their likely dampening effect on creating compelling interim uses that respond to the needs of the city, our hope is that the ongoing experiment of PROXY will catalyze a more responsive set of planning, building and economic development initiatives that will simultaneously accommodate short, middle, long and very long term change within the fabric of the city.

Specifically within the planning realm, our hope is that Planning Departments will become receptive to certain temporary uses that do not require the exact same level of review applied to a permanent project. This reexamination of the mechanisms of review of temporary projects should also include a consideration of applicable fees (which could be proportionally reduced) and the required time periods for review and notification of neighbors.

Within the purview of Building Department review, we agree that temporary uses need to meet both accessibility and life safety components of the Building Code. However, Building Departments could apply lower fees for temporary uses or perhaps even develop a new category of “renewable temporary,” that involve (time-based) licenses and fees rather than full building department review. From an economic development perspective, PROXY lowers the economic barriers to entry making it possible for new small businesses to participate in these temporary uses. The encouragement of startup and small businesses within a thriving retail environment will feed back into the economic vitality of the city. Applying the PROXY model, economic development measures could  be targeted at creating incentives for short term or temporary uses of the underutilized spaces of the city.

The neighborhood in which PROXY is operating has also been critical to its success. Residents of the Hayes Valley neighborhood, active in both the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association and the Hayes Valley Merchant Association, have been strong supporters of the project from the beginning. The partnership that we have developed over years of dialogue has built a level of trust and respect that is invaluable and perhaps rare. Without the direct support and engagement of key people within the neighborhood, the project would not have gone beyond the idea phase. We trust that this partnership will continue to serve both the project and the neighborhood as PROXY unfolds.

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Feb. 18, 2014

Origin Story, Part 2: PROXY as Possibility

As part of AIA SF’s 2011 Architecture and the City festival titled Architecture of Consequenceenvelope a+d [link to About section that mentions envelope on proxysf.net] published the zine ON SITE IN THE CITY. Made in part to supplement the exhibition, the zine supported the firm’s dialogue with Dutch Firm ZUS about how progressive design and creative problem solving can address many of our most pressing urban issues, from decreased social cohesion and unsustainable food systems to diminishing free time. 

This excerpt originally appeared in ON SITE IN THE CITY as part of “PROXY: An Experiment in Flexible Urbanism” by Douglas Burnham. 

Part 2: PROXY as Possibility 

Early in the process, we called our project “PROXY” to convey the idea that what we are proposing is fundamentally a placeholder for a more permanent development and an investigation into the potential of impermanence. The primary mechanism of proxy  is the re-imagining of place: a curated, compelling and opportunistic programming of urban space so that people can start to see possibility where before there was only a void. In studying the possibilities for programming the vacant freeway lots, we quickly realized that any underutilized site—either vacant or those used for surface parking—is an opportunity to insert structures and content with interim uses that transform people’s experience of the city. Programmatic uses that create diverse experiences can be imagined and implemented on a short term basis without undermining the possibility for future densified uses, such as housing, commercial development or public uses. Moreover, programming can be used intentionally to increase the diversity, heterogeneity, and intensity of the city, satisfying both public and private interests and contributing to the larger project of a more fully programmed city.

The idea of PROXY is not only temporary but context-dependent: its development is determined by the specificity of the site. For this reason, the questions we started with in Hayes Valley were: What do these various sites want? What does the neighborhood need? What uses can be supported on each site? What site is right for which use? When we started our investigation, the Hayes Valley Neighborhood already had proposals underway for three separate urban farms, so we focused on the vacant lots that had the potential to support a vibrant urban experience that was different from, but complementary to, what already existed nearby.

For us, the lots with the most potential were along Octavia, between Fell and Hayes Streets and bisected by Linden Alley. These two lots, a surface parking lot and a vacant inaccessible lot, would allow for a multi-faceted project of both culture and commerce due to their immediate proximity to a thriving commercial district and Patricia’s Green Park. We hypothesized a slew of possible temporary programs organized under the headings art, food, retail and community and rooted in San Francisco’s specific cultural tendencies. If the model of proxy  were applied to another site it might result in interim programming of a different form such as neighborhood centers, swimming pools, or playgrounds. Still other sites, depending on the needs of the neighborhood and the condition of the site, might be turned (temporarily) into dense natural environments or spaces of contemplation.

When PROXY reaches its full potential as an urban construct, it will offer a dynamic, interactive and immersive experience with a Northern California sensibility toward the enjoyment of good food, wine, beer, art and design. In the spirit of Archigram and Superstudio, the larger goal of PROXY is to provide a framework for changing content that reflects and responds to the pace of our contemporary culture. Retail, food, art and event programming are housed in the projects’ containers and on its surfaces, with the imperative that rotating content streams will drive diverse and engaging experiences that physicalize the mediated experiences of the web. The spaces within the project also bring people together within the city in relation to the experience of food and drink, outdoor movie screenings, changing events and designed urban play environments. Within the project, the urban void receives the same densification of connected culture that the rural/natural landscape receives in the Instant City and Supersurface projects, creating a responsive content frame.

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Feb. 18, 2014

Origin Story, Part 1: Loma Prieta Makes Way for Change

As part of AIA SF’s 2011 Architecture and the City festival titled Architecture of Consequenceenvelope a+d [link to About section that mentions envelope on proxysf.net] published the zine ON SITE IN THE CITY. Made in part to supplement the exhibition, the zine supported the firm’s dialogue with Dutch Firm ZUS about how progressive design and creative problem solving can address many of our most pressing urban issues, from decreased social cohesion and unsustainable food systems to diminishing free time. 

This excerpt originally appeared in ON SITE IN THE CITY as part of “PROXY: An Experiment in Flexible Urbanism” by Douglas Burnham. 

PROXY, an experiment in flexible urbanism, came about through our studio’s response to a formal request for proposals from the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Workforce and Economic Development in 2009. The city wanted projects with temporary uses—between one and four years—for any of the vacant Central Freeway lots in Hayes Valley until they could be sold for residential development.

These vacant lots came to exist through a series of events that started when the elevated, double-decker 101 Central Freeway was damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. After the earthquake, the fate of the elevated freeway was thrown into a contentious decade-long debate that was finally resolved through a local ballot measure. In 1999, a Hayes Valley neighborhood-sponsored measure won voter approval to remove the damaged elevated freeway and create a surface boulevard for distributing the 101 Freeway traffic into the city grid. The design of the boulevard, by planner Allan Jacobs, ended up creating a series of 22 irregular shaped vacant lots, the difference between the footprint of the former Central Freeway and the new Octavia Boulevard plan.

The San Francisco Mayor’s Office was given control of these vacant lots, labeled alphabetically from Lot A at the northern end to Lot V at the intersection of Octavia and Market Streets to the south, with the goal of bringing both market-rate and subsidized housing to the neighborhood and repairing the void left by the removal of the 32 Central Freeway. Due to the economic downturn of 2008, proposals for market-rate housing on these vacant lots (including our two-parcel multifamily residential development project on Lots M + N between Oak and Fell Streets) were put on hold by the private architect/ developer teams, and the Mayor’s Office initiated a request for proposals for temporary uses as an interim condition until the economy recovers.

Our immersion into the needs of the area and the open communication we developed with representatives of the Hayes Valley Neighborhood during the initial stages of developing our project at Lots M + N gave us a strong sense of what might be possible for programming temporary uses on other vacant lots in the area. These conversations also inspired us to think about how temporary structures might be used to bring new vitality and connectedness to the neighborhood. With this as our starting point, we began to develop an intentional strategy rooted in notions of flexibility and impermanence that could serve as a model for an adaptive mechanism of change within the urban condition.

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