Mimi Plumb used to live on the edges of the city where the rents were cheap. Nearby, on the summit of the hill, were folded layers of radiolarian chert, the fossilized remains of microscopic creatures called radiolaria. A large crevice in the hillside was a reminder of the ever-present threat of an earthquake.
Warm Water Cove, along the bay, was a spectacle of tires and abandoned cars. One day Plumb photographed the chimney of the power station above the fiery destruction of the 25th Street Pier. She watched planes flying over the city dump of cardboard hillsides.
Plumb’s life was marked by nights out dancing at the Crystal Pistol in the Mission, or listening to a punk polka band at the Oasis. Neil, the clarinet player, wore faux leather naugahosen, with spikes protruding from his head. Sometimes they played pool at Palace Billiards. At the Exotic/Erotic Ball, a bird man and a nurse hid in the corners. A steely-eyed silver man in his tuxedo stared back at Plumb from behind his mask, the camera flash shining a light on him.
To Plumb the magical clanging of the San Francisco cable cars was a world away, and the idealism of the 1960s seemed long gone. The Golden City of San Francisco, fraying at its edges, showed the growing chasm between the rich and poor.
Book Specs: The Golden City by Mimi Plumb published by STANLEY/BARKER 2022 | ISBN: 978-1-913288-30-3 | Pages: 112 | Cover: Hard back / Silk screened | Size: 287x235mm | Price: £45. Available here.
Born in Berkeley, and raised in the suburbs of San Francisco, Mimi Plumb has served on the faculties of the San Francisco Art Institute, San Jose State University, Stanford University, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She currently lives in Berkeley, California.
Since the 1970s, Plumb has explored subjects ranging from her suburban roots to the United Farm Workers movement in the fields as they organized for union elections. Books: Landfall (TBW Books, 2018); The White Sky (STANLEY/BARKER, 2020); The Golden City (STANLEY/BARKER, 2022).