Jesse Hamlin, Chronicle Staff Writer
Saturday, October 18, 2008
A memorial poetry reading will be held Sunday for Tony Vaughan, a San
Francisco poet and painter who was engaged in the city's alternative
culture for more than 30 years. Mr. Vaughan died at his Potrero Hill
home Sept. 27 of melanoma at the age of 61.
"Tony was what I would call under the underground," said North Beat
poet Neeli Cherkovski. "As a poet and painter, he bridged the Beat
and '60s aesthetic with his own profound lyricism over many decades.
His poetry had a quiet rigor. He was warm and compassionate. He was a
real cultural fighter, but not in an ideological way."
Mr. Vaughan was a self-taught painter whose colorful expressionist
canvases had a naive charm. His art and poetry appeared in various
West Coast publications, among them CoEvolution Quarterly, the North
Coast Review, the Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, Crash and North
Beach Beat. He wrote several unpublished novels, including a modern
telling of the Orpheus myth, "The Legend of Hotel Del Rio," set in North Beach.
Born in Chicago, Mr. Vaughan received a bachelor of arts degree in
theater from Lawrence University in Wisconsin. He moved to San
Francisco in the 1970s and lived in the Goodman Building, an artists'
collective on Geary Street. He was among those who fought a prolonged
battle in the early 1980s to stop the owners of the landmark building
from evicting the tenants. They lost the fight, but with financial
help from the city, a new live-work space for artists, Goodman2, was
built on Potrero Hill. Mr. Vaughan lived there.
Moving to New York, he worked in the graphic design department at the
Museum of Modern Art for several years. Returning to San Francisco,
Mr. Vaughan led art therapy groups in halfway houses, wrote and
painted. He showed his pictures at the Live Worms Gallery in North
Beach, where he played guitar at openings.
Mr. Vaughan is survived by a brother, Michael; and two nieces.
From 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Cherkovski, Jack Hirschman, Aggie Falk and
other local poets will convene at Live Worms, 1345 Grant Ave., to
read their work in Mr. Vaughan's honor.
E-mail Jesse Hamlin at firstname.lastname@example.org.