Donna Reynolds and Tim Racer live in the unknown-to-me, stunningly beautiful hills of Oakland east out Golf Links Road. On the basis of their view of hills and trees, or on the basis of the existence of local mountain lion, this is pretty close to country living.
In this home they make art. They have art from others. And they work to save the reputation and lives of pit bulls.
This is not Berkeley.
There is a nexus with Berkeley, though, or two nexus. Nexus is the plural too!
1) They educate about pit bulls in Berkeley. Their Pid Ed classes are held in a fenced lot at the corner of Addison Street and 2nd Street. Adopters from The Berkeley Animal Care Services get immediate access to the classes. Spay and neuter services are offered free for Berkeley residents with pit bulls.
2) Mark Bulwinkle introduced me to them. They have Bulwinkle metal sculpture and tiles. Bulwinkle may not be a Berkeley resident, but he is the True North of Quirky Berkeley. They are Good People in the eyes of Bulwinkle. Say no more.
Let’s start with Reynolds and Racer.
They are a son and daughter of Detroit. My friend will perk up at this fact. They met while attending the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit. Love! Art!
They started careers as commercial artists. They were good at it.
They moved away from commercial art. They moved to California.
Reynolds’ pieces are mostly what might be called altered found objects. Plus straight-out paintings. A few examples from their home:
Racer gravitated towards carving.
They bought this carousel goat – hundreds of pieces in a box, possibly a relic from the carousel on the Santa Cruz boardwalk. A friend put it together and restored it. Wow!
Racer got into carousel restoration, working with Pam Hessey at her Martinez studio. She is as good as it gets when it comes to carousel restoration. Too bad, for my purposes, that she moved to Kingman, Arizona.
Then he started carving his own carousel animals. He started with their pit bull Sally shown above and here:
He has moved to carving dogs for others. He makes several commissions a year of dogs. Stunning. These several photos show his methods.
His carving tools:
Racer uses antique wood carving tools. I’ve seen this before, Bulwinkle gravitating towards the tools in the workshop.
Racer’s website shows many more carousel carvings that he has made. Did I mention that they are stunning? Really something. Who knew?
Okay – now the dogs.
So far we have love and art, and now we find that these two artists who love each other also love dogs.
In 1999 they started to rescue pit bulls and built and organization for providing information, training, owner support, disaster relief services and animal welfare program models.
Fame – some version of fame -struck when Michael Vick was arrested in 2007 for participating in an unlawful interstate dog fighting venture. Normally, little attention would be paid to dogs involved in a dog fighting venture. It was assumed that they were too mean to live a civilian life and they were most often euthanized.
Not here. Dog rescue groups, including Reynold and Racer’s BADRAP were brought in and assessed the dogs, Of the 49 fighting dogs seized, all but one was deemed a candidate for emotional rehabilitation.
Reynolds and Racer brought 10 dogs back to Oakland and worked on them, eventually placing them.
Reynolds here points to a wall of photos of Vick dogs in their new, loving lives and homes. It worked!
As for the pit bulls at their house now, both the permanents residents and those in halfway status, they are the most affectionate dogs I have ever met. No lie. Look at them with Mark Bulwinkle:
Dogs love Bulwinkle!
And then they saw John Storey photographing them.
Dogs love John Storey too!
Reynolds and Racer have built what they call the barn, a halfway house for dogs who are being prepared for adoption. Kennels, not cages. Touches of home such as a chair in each kennel.
Next stop – the guest house, a tiny house. You no doubt have read about the tiny house or small house movement. There is no established definition of what constitutes a tiny or small house. The idea of the architectural/social movement is – live simply in a small house.
I am prone to space issues. I felt no such anxiety in this tiny house.
Extra feature outside the tiny house:
Outside the tiny house stands this wonderfully quirky hound. Which I saw for sale at Urban Ore in December. And which I secretly wanted to buy for my garden. Better that it be here!
I will finish with the art of Bulwinkle, which is what brought me to Reynolds and Racer in the first place.
And the grand prize:
Perfect! Just. Plain. Perfect.
There are Bulwinkle metal pieces as well:
Reynolds and Racer – Good People in the Book of Mark Bulwinkle. Great artists. Artists who take chances. Artists who love dogs. Artists who help dogs. What more is there? Inspiration, admiration, respect. Good people.
I showed the photos to my friend. He went online. He wants to help out with dog events. Good for him. What about the post?