If you've ever gotten coffee at Andytown or picked up a print at Three Fish Studios, you've already taken in Peter Cochrane's work: He does the weird and wonderful floral arrangements you see at those locations (including Andytown's "secret" outpost at Square headquarters). He's also a writer and editor, most recently heading up arts publication SFAQ before striking out on his own as an artist.
This Saturday marks Cochrane's first solo show at the Great Highway gallery. Entitled A Continuum, it seeks to "honor the beginning, the present, and the end as a connected stream," Cochrane says in his artist statement. Heady enough stuff that I feel crass by following it by suggesting you head to its opening party Saturday evening from 6 to 9 p.m., which will also feature the inevitable art-show free-flowing booze and food from neighboring Lawton Tap Room.
Though I've been engaged in an ongoing conversation with Cochrane for years, since we first spoke at a chilly barbecue thrown by a since-parted couple I met at the gym, reading his statement made me realize that his thoughts on San Francisco have a beginning, middle, and end of their own — and that some of you might enjoy his musings, as well. So I had him submit to our 20 Questions, with the below results.
Name: Peter Eric Steines Cochrane
Introduce yourself in one sentence: Hello, my name is Peter and I am a 29-year-old man who arranges flowers and writes and is an artist and a total homo.
Age and occupation: I am a 29-year-old artist.
Hometown: San Diego, CA / Bigfork, MT (depending on which year of childhood — it’s complicated).
How long have you lived in SF? Give me another 10 months and we’ll call it an even decade.
Best deal in SF: "My affordable yet mind-altering, historically conscious, socially provocative art," is what I think what I’m supposed to say. But really Kabuki Theater’s $6 Tuesday movies or a large, deep dish, jalapeño pineapple Patxi’s pizza eaten alone, split over the course of four dinners.
The best thing in/about your neighborhood is: Though I live in Western Addition, the Sunset is my home based on clocked hours so I’d have to say petting all of the dogs in front of Andytown Coffee Roasters in between arranging their flowers one at a time. Special shoutout to my main girl Jazzy the gallery dog at The Great Highway Gallery next door.
Your favorite Bay Area restaurant is: Tosca, with a before and/or after drink at Vesuvio. (This is not a recommendation based on habit, but was lovely the two or three times it’s happened.)
Place you always tell visitors to the Bay Area to check out: James Turrell’s skyspace “Three Gems” in the sculpture garden at the de Young. Preferably go on a Friday night when the museum is open late and sit there staring up at the black night through the sky hole as the lights shift from red to white to green to blue and destroy your comprehension of physical space.
You have two hours and $25 bucks to kill in SF, what are you going to do?: I’d probably get a coffee from Andytown, sit on the dunes at Ocean Beach, and pocket the rest. What do you think I am, a rich 29-year-old artist? Free money!
Favorite mode of transportation: The Peter of 2013 who rode his bike or walked everywhere no matter the time of day or weather is ashamed of the Peter of 2017 who says, "My car."
Beer, wine, cocktails, or mocktails (please elaborate): Anything that’s pretty rough, like a slap to the face, and must be drunk slowly: tequila straight up (for sipping, not shooting, you beasts), tequila and soda with lime, tequila and grapefruit juice, gin on the rocks, gin and tonic, whiskey straight, vodka with ice, a martini, wine (whatever crosses the $6.99 / bottle line), or a Margarita with Grand Marnier if I’m feeling fruity and want to think of the way my mother says “Grand Marnier."
Favorite Bay Area stereotype, and whether or not you buy into it: San Francisco is full of limp-wristed fairies. I guess I bought into this the first few years I lived here but then gentrification shoved most of us out leaving behind the richest, whitest, buffest, discreetest, masc4mascest of them all.
Who's your favorite San Francisco character (living or dead, real or unreal): John Waters (I think he counts as living, dead, real, and unreal).
San Franciscans are the WORST about: Going on second dates.
SF has the BEST: Rent control laws.
You can tell someone is a local here IF: Native local: friendly, talkative, calm or neurotic, owns their own home and business, maybe has a funny haircut, owns a “The City” shirt or an embroidered “SF” baseball cap and wears it with pride.
Long-enough local: friendly, talkative, California nice, ambitious in the dreamy way, just came back from a hike, will have kids in the city because they resent their parents for raising them in the suburbs.
I have found/sold/bought the following on Craigslist: My first bike, which a mechanic later called a “death trap,” but from which I only fell off and scarred the left half of my face once, thank you very much.
What do you want all SFist readers out there to know about your city? Despite everything you’ll read about the city being overpriced, culturally hemorrhagic, overrun by tech billionaires, colder than Chicago (a personal feeling after having lived in Chicago where the houses are actually built to withstand cold temperatures), it’s still rife with moments of overwhelming beauty — the fog rolling over Twin Peaks to the east in a billowing, white wave; Victorian and Edwardian homes clutching to every hill and valley whose windows glint orange and gold with the setting sun; unadulterated frost in the early winter morning creating silver lakes of grass throughout Golden Gate Park — and charming, genuine people. You just have to look a little harder to find them all now.
Tell us an “only in San Francisco" story: One time, back when the drag night Mother was called Trannyshack and Trannyshack was at DNA Lounge, I went to a Björk tribute night after a day spent at the old SFMOMA. After getting a few too many drinks with friends the house lights went down and the first performer walked on stage, red cloths trailing behind her otherwise naked torso. As “Jóga” reached its crescendo she was hoisted into the air by pulleys and ropes that clipped into rings pierced through the skin of her back. The red cloth, now rivers of blood, were waved by her backup dancers as she flew around the stage without missing a lip-synching beat. “This is better performance art than I’ve seen in the museum,” I thought to myself having realized all my friends were now missing and had missed the whole performance. I later found that one got kicked out, one was clutching a toilet, and one was walking home in the rain, all swearing off booze and, misguidedly, Björk. Like so many other San Francisco moments, it came and went as if in an isolated dream.