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Monday, July 23, 2007

Come Along With Me

This weekend, I met my new friends Dagmar and Carsten from Berlin for dinner at the Palace Hotel as they passed through SF on their return from visiting the giant Redwoods.

I was the first one there due to my chronic tendency to be extremely early to things. So I waited in The Pied Piper Bar at Maxfield's in the Palace. If you want to see the most beautiful painting in San Francisco that is not in a museum, this bar has a mural that was painted by Maxfield Parrish when the hotel reopened after the 1906 earthquake (quote courtesy of sfhistoryencyclopedia.com):
Celebrated American illustrator and artist Maxfield Parrish was commissioned to paint a mural for the hotel's 1909 re-opening. His magical seven-by-sixteen-foot oil on canvas depicts the children's fable of the Pied Piper of Hamelin and was recently appraised at $2.5 million. It has been a permanent fixture above the hotel's club-like bar, which was originally named The Pied Pier Room, and later renamed Maxfield's Bar and Restaurant.
The best way to appreciate this painting is to sit directly in front of it at the bar. The vivid colors and detail are mesmerizing. I've always loved Parrish's work...what a unique opportunity to see this treasure in a public setting and not a museum or a book.
A couple of observations...I wonder how many people even really look at the painting, given the fact that it is in a bar and flanked by two televisions constantly tuned to ESPN, and that the genius and beauty of the painting makes you forget that, in actuality, the story of the Pied Piper is really creepy.