In the magical city of San Francisco is a typical Victorian home on a typical street of historic homes…. inside that house, well, let’s just say, is another world altogether.
The gal who owns this home in the Potrero Hill neighborhood of San Francisco contacted me and I jumped at the chance to showcase her wickedly awesome abode.
Jaina Bee is the owner/founder/curator of this private residence turned communal art project.
Yes, she does indeed live here.
Jaina calls her collaborative creation: “Granny’s Empire of Art“.
She bought the house – actually there are 2 houses on the lot – in 1997 and immediately started the “mutations”. She invites friends and fellow artists to come, stay, play, and participate in the evolving décor of her home.
“It is an endless process, as any house truly is.” True that I say.
The main house was built circa 1914, and the other smaller cottage in back was built in 1896.
We started with the cottage in back and over the years the mutations have taken over the main house in front. I live in the cottage, it’s more of my private quarters. The front house, nicknamed the Guest House, is more of a shared space with my community of friends and artists. (I’ve had salons, receptions, film fests and other events at the house, but always for friends, it’s not a public venue).
– Jaina Bee
Each room or chamber within the main house has been given a unique name to reflect its theme.
The Secret Raindrop Room
Each room has been done by one (or several) of Jaina’s friends. Jaina has thrown open her doors since the first day she owned the house in the hopes of creating a utopian collaboration of in-house art.
The Opium Den
I asked Jaina for an exterior picture of the main house, but she said she didn’t actually have any outside photos…
That’s kinda funny, because up until a few years ago, the exterior was untouched, even a bit drab. I liked the surprise as people walked in, entering an unexpected wonderland. We did paint it bright colors about 3 years ago, but I don’t have any photos yet.
– Jaina Bee
The Haunted Parlour
When I asked Jaina how she came up with the name “Granny’s Empire of Art“, she had this to say:
The name came from a nickname I received from Jason Mecier, the PencilVania artist. We go way back, performing in bands and musical theater together. I used to show up backstage with fresh baked cookies and I wore old vintage dresses and aprons and I liked to knit, so he started calling me Granny. Also, my own grandmother, Mitzi, was a huge influence on my life in more ways than I could state briefly, but it’s partially named in her honor with gratitude for all she has given me— especially my love of art and color and beauty. The third reason is to honor the wisdom of our elders. I was a young girl when I bought the house (27), and would not have done so if my dear friend, Ruth Davidow, a lifelong social activist and visionary then in her 80s, had not have kicked my ass. I aspire to become the wise Granny someday.
– Jaina Bee
The Kuntree Kitschen
If you are wondering if Jaina ever feels over-stimulated living in these two very kinetic cottages (I sure was wondering), she told me: “This is truly my comfort zone. Maybe I’m a reincarnation of someone from India?”
I’d say there’s a good possibility of that. And I mean that in the most Namaste possible way!
The Gaudi Submarine
In the long-term, Jaina and her fellow transformative artists would like to see this place treasured and preserved, perhaps even being utilized as an artists residency program in the future. Meantime, Jaina is the enthusiastic caretaker of this sensational dwelling place.
Says Jaina: “There’s a difference between decorating and transforming.”
Indeed. The Painted Ladies of San Francisco ain’t got nothing on this bad-ass Granny!!
All photos courtesy of Jaina Bee – for individual photo credits, contributor, and copyright information, please see Jaina Bee’s website: http://jainabee.com/index.html
*Special thank you to Jaina Bee for letting me display her AMAZING house!