THE CARMICHAEL SALON – Presents Photographer Clifford Baker

Popular Post Street salon hosts a reception on July 9th for its featured artist

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By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

Mick Aguilera is on the business end of things at Carmichael Salon just off Union Square at 619 Post Street. As one of three partners, he is not involved with manicures or pedicures and will never get his fingers in your hair. Among his many activities is promoting and readying the salon’s galleria-like walls for on-going art displays. On July 9th the Carmichael Salon will host a reception beginning at 6:00 for well-known photographer of male nudes, Clifford Baker. Twenty-two of the artist’s previously undisplayed color works will be in view for the next two months.

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In 1979, popular gay magazine The Advocate was the first to introduce Clifford Baker. The artist’s early success was due to the spontaneous energy of the unplanned moment and his preference for non-professional models. Beginning in 1995, publisher Bruno Gmünder Verlag put out a series of seventeen hardcover volumes, Edition Euros. New photographers – specifically, those who specialized in male nudes – were given the opportunity to introduce their works in smart and relatively small portfolios with as much as 60 pages of duotone reproductions. Photographer Clifford Baker was given the distinction of being first in the series.

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CLIFFORD BAKER, Edition Euros, #1

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Clifford Baker. 1967

Carmichael Salon occupies the space formerly known as the Black and White Gallery. Its current trio of owners have transformed it into a fashionable beauty boutique but are equally determined to retain its former energy as an art gallery. Mick and I talked about the growing excitement around the neighborhood salon, its unique staff and services.

Mick: The artist’s reception is going to be on July 9th, the second Thursday of the month. A lot of the downtown art galleries have receptions with bits of food and wine to welcome new artists they are featuring. We are joining along with them since we are right here in the area where the Tenderloin meets Nob Hill – the TenderNob Area. We’ll be here from 6:00 to 9:00 with a wonderful reception for Clifford Baker.

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Seán: I’m familiar with some of his black and white photographs, i.e., the male nudes and landscapes from the past thirty years or so. I understand you will be showing some of his color work that has not been previously displayed.

Mick: Yes! His color photography is amazing. We’ll have about 22 pieces. Carmichael Salon used to be a gallery before we took it over a year ago in August. It was called the Black and White Gallery. When we took it over – my partner Russell Thompson, myself, and LaVinia Turner – we really wanted to keep that feel of having it as an art gallery. So, Clifford is our fourth artist since last year. We’re all about working with the artist to make it a really nice space so that our clients can enjoy it and the general public can enjoy it. We also do a lot of educational parties, treatment parties, and classes for our clients, neighbors, and friends.

Seán: I see from your web site that Carmichael Salon is encouraging green and organic products and procedures. I like that a lot.

Mick: You have to be Natural first and then get into the organics. Russell is working with a couple of different companies on organic products.

Seán: Does it start with no animal testing involved?

Mick: Right. No animal testing, no silicones involved, as well as no sulfites. We find that with products both men and women use – for example, a bottle of Prell or some mainstream bottle of shampoo from Safeway or Walgreens – you get a ton of suds because of the chemicals. Whereas with a lot of the French products – Lenor Greyl, L’Oreal, etc., you don’t get much sudsing, and you only have to use a quarter as much. You also get better effects with these shampoos and conditioners.

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THE CARMICHAEL SALON. Photo, by Mick Aguilera

Seán: What kind of services do you provide in addition to cuts and coloring?

Mick: We do amazing conditioning treatments. More and more women and men are getting these treatments which are made to protect against split ends, and those with dandruff or psoriasis, dry scalp and hair loss. Lenor Greyl has a great product that’s made for diminishing hair loss.

Seán: So, you are creating art in the salon and inviting art into the salon.

Mick: Exactly. Russell, who is the head colorist, is all about doing a needs assessment for each client. We know exactly what they need from us and that they leave totally satisfied with either just a haircut, with coloring, with conditioning. LaVinia Turner is the one who heads our manicure and pedicure area.

Seán: What about individuals who may be hesitant about such services for fear of the passing-on of bacteria, etc.?

Mick: LaVinia was actually over in the Shreve Building for about 25 years. She has been at the forefront of making sure that you are logging all your equipment. It’s actually the law – you must log when the equipment was last cleaned. A lot of the low-priced manicure / pedicure places are just not as clean. A lot of times it’s like a factory where they are not as conscientious about the cleanliness. For us, for LaVinia – the manicure is $30, but you are getting the reassurance that she is using clean equipment and you don’t need to worry about infections.

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Clifford Baker. 1991 and 2001

Seán: Someone comes in and says, “Just give me a cut and shampoo” – you know, some basic request. Where do the prices start?

Mick: Prices start at about $50. We also give a reduced price for students. Right around here we have the Academy of Art University and Kaplan International where students come to learn English. When they come in we offer them a student rate. Depending on the stylist – whether it’s a junior stylist or senior stylist – it can go anywhere from fifty to ninety-five dollars for a hair cut.

Seán: There’s a choice then for a level of expertise. That’s a great idea.

Mick: People really appreciate it. Then they know if they want someone like Russell or Julie or Tony Nash who’s been in the business some 20 years that they’re paying a little bit more.

Seán: Can people come in and just view the art work?

Mick: They are more than welcome to. If they want to come in and just look at the art we’ll escort them around. It’s on the perimeter of the walls and not in a private area where the clients are, such as the shampoo area. Sometimes when it’s really crowded we’ll have them wait a little bit and then they’re welcome to go back. Clifford does have a couple pieces back by the shampoo area and also in the dressing rooms. We have a bar area with a refrigerator where clients come in and have access to sodas and water, coffee and tea. In LaVinia’s area there’s a sofa and comfortable chairs. So, we really do give people a tour of the salon. When somebody comes in just for the art work, we’re able to take them around and show it.

Seán: How long will Clifford Baker’s work be on display?

Mick: It’s actually going for a couple of months. Typically, each artist is up for two months. Sometimes they’ll extend it, depending on availability. We’ve pretty much booked our artists until the end of the year. Our first artist – Yapo, from South Africa – was here installing his work on the very day we opened. He had his reception the following. He actually left his work for an extra three weeks because the response was so amazing.

Seán: Whose works are coming in following the Baker exhibit?

Mick: The artist will be Manon Hessels. The reception for her will be at the beginning of September. Clifford Baker’s reception is Thursday, July 9th, from 6:00 to 9:00. We’re looking forward to a big turnout for him.

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Carmichael Salon is located just off Union Square at 619 Post Street. New and prospective clients are invited in for a complimentary consultation. For more information call 415-409-2353 or email carmichaelsalon@rocketmail.com.

“At Carmichael, it’s not just about hair care, it’s about care for your hair and spirit,” says co-owner Russel Thompson. “I want to create an experience that I have found has been missing from San Francisco hair salons. All of us here are driven by one over-riding mission: to listen to you and help you become the best you can be.”

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Click on the titles to order these publications featuring the work of Clifford Baker:

CLIFFORD BAKER (Euros)
NAKED ASIA

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Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Seán Martinfield, who also serves as Fine Arts Critic, is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”, which is being prepared for publication. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on AllExperts.com. If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at: sean.martinfield@comcast.net.

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