A few years back, I went to the Bernal Heights Outdoor Film Festival. On that particular night the location was on Bernal Heights Boulevard, on the slope leading easterly towards Folsom Street. I remember it being extremely cold and uncomfortable. The other thing I remember, apart from the fact that it was kind of a crappy place to see a movie, was a film called “Yield To Total Elation” (by Pat Ferrero). It told the story of a reclusive draftsman who lived and worked for more than 50 years in a tiny house on Alabama Street in Bernal Heights.
From 1935 to 1944, A.G. Rizzoli produced a large body of architectural drawings of fantastical buildings — some of which were symbolic representations of friends and relations, most notably his mother. The drawings from this period are all part of a larger environment loosely based on the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition, a world’s fair based in what would become San Francisco’s Marina District.
In 1935 Rizzoli began exhibiting his work, The Achilles Tectonic Exhibit, on the walls of the Alabama Street home he shared with his mother. Patrons included friends, relatives, and neighborhood children. Overall, it was kind of like the Open Studios of today.
The book, A.G. Rizzoli: Architect of Magnificent Visions provides a detailed schematic look at the Achilles Tectonic Exhibit of 1940, with a 10′ by 13′ room crammed with over 50 artworks.
Rizzoli died unknown in 1982, 5 years after a debilitating stroke necessitated moving from the Bernal Heights home he’d lived in since 1933. His works were “discovered” in 1990 and his life has captivated people ever since.
A.G. Rizzoli on the Internet:
The Ames Gallery - Berkeley
A. G. Rizzoli: Architect of Magnificent Visions. by Jo Farb Hernandez, John Beardsley, and Roger Cardinal.
Yield to Total Elation, a film by Pat Ferrero