Santana’s back on Fillmore

Photograph of Santana by Mark Brady

Fillmore has always had a claim on guitarist Carlos Santana, and not only because of his many appearances at the Fillmore Auditorium. For a number of years his studio was on Fillmore Street next door to the Clay Theater.

Now he’s back as part of the first special exhibition at the Fillmore Heritage Center. “A Tribute to Miles Davis and Carlos Santana” opened May 23 and continues through July 31, 2008, and includes items from Santana’s personal collection.

The man himself stopped by after his appearance May 20 up the street at the Fillmore Auditorium, reports the center’s executive director, Peter Fitzsimmons.

“Carlos came by and fell in love with many Miles images,” Fitzsimmons says, “and seemed delighted to visit with the many memories inherent in the memorabilia and photographs. Stopping in front of Mark Brady’s photograph of a Santana concert at San Quentin, Carlos recounted the concert and how he was able to reach across racial barriers to involve the hardest of the hard-core inmates in musical rapture. He mentioned, in what must have been a surreal moment, that he saw the machine-gun-toting guard up in the tower swaying to rocking rhythms. He was with us for a good 45 minutes, taking photos with his guest and the staff, and he seemed intrigued and open to learning more about the Jazz Heritage Center.”

Photograph of Santana at San Quentin by Mark Brady

The roses of Rose Court

Photograph of Rose Court by Alvin Johnson

In the springtime, a few weeks after the cherry trees blossom and the air turns fragrant with rosemary, the roses of Rose Court begin to bloom.

There are roses of many colors and kinds, some brought from the altar of nearby St. Dominic’s Church. They’ve been given a chance to live on in the garden hidden behind the apartments and convents at Pine and Pierce. It is an oasis of flowers and trees and birds and bees nurtured by Sister Cathryn deBack, the manager of Rose Court.

“Somehow, magically, some of them make it in the out-of-doors,” she says. “I personally wanted something lower maintenance. But someone said, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to have roses?’ It has been a great challenge to me.”

In the center of the garden stands a chapel, open to the residents and the nuns as a contemplative space. Growing all around it are plants offered up by the sisters and the residents — and for a few weeks in the late spring, the sweet smell of roses.

She made her mark

Marie Cleasby and her graffiti squad.

By Don Langley

While helping to form the Webster Street Historic District in the late ’70s,
Marie Cleasby insisted she wanted to paint her house purple.

Like her neighbors, she wanted to form the district as a hedge against further expansion of the California Pacific Medical Center, which abutted the back of her property. But she was adamant that the district’s restrictions not include color control. When the enabling legislation was passed by the Board of Supervisors in 1981, after an eight-year effort, it said nothing about color. Soon 2373 Washington Street was painted purple, with fuchsia trim.

Throughout many confrontations between neighbors and the hospital’s administrators, Marie was never bothered by the fact that her husband, Gil, was a prominent ophthalmologist affiliated with the hospital.
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‘A force of nature’

Actress Halle Berry was among those who honored Fillmore's Ruth Dewson.

Fillmore milliner Ruth Garland Dewson took a stroll down the red carpet in the heart of Hollywood on April 27, 2008, when she was honored for her ceaseless — and ultimately successful — efforts to free a woman imprisoned for more than two decades.

On an evening of Tinseltown glitter in the grand ballroom of the Beverly Hills Hotel, Dewson was honored by the Jenesse Center, an organization that helps women and children hurt by domestic violence.

Earlier this year, Dewson rallied public and political opinion to persuade Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to grant parole to Flozelle Woodmore, a 39-year-old woman she’d never met who had spent more than half of her life in jail for killing an abusive boyfriend when she was 18. Woodmore had repeatedly been denied parole until Dewson took up her cause.

In presenting the award, state Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas — an ally in the fight to free Flozelle Woodmore — called Dewson “a change maker, a one-woman show and a force of nature.”

“People said to me, ‘You didn’t know Flozelle, how could you help her?’ ” Dewson told a sold-out audience that included actress Halle Berry, talk show host Jay Leno and singer Jennifer Hudson, as well as a contingent from the Fillmore. “I said to them: I know her and you know her. You see her in the eyes of your children and your grandchildren.”

Dewson, the proprietor of Mrs. Dewson’s Hats on Fillmore, also heads the Western Addition Foundation for Girls.