When I was putting together my latest blog about Will Squier and his ever-changing limit-stretching imagination-busting collection of toys and kitsch, I made a mental list of the other posts that I have written about unthemed collections. I wrote the list out. I thought of others to add. And I made this post.
I am working on some heavy duty posts that require thought and time. This was an easy do.
I follow several rules in this post.
Rule 1 – only five photos per collection, which includes one of the collector.
Rule 2 (which applies to all posts) – don’t use the term “hoard” or “hoarder” or “hoarding disorder.” These collections are not about a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them and they are not accompanies by excessive accumulation of items, regardless of actual value.
Rule 3 (which applies to all posts) – don’t use the term “clutter.” Yes, I know the clutter hoarding scale In each of the collections I show, all doors and stairways are accessible, there are no odors, and the home is considered safe and sanitary. If you really need an adjective to explain why some of these photos cause you a problem, just think of the collections as perhaps being a little “busy.”
How can I not start with Wavy Gravy. That’s right – I can’t. I must. I shall. I am.
Wavy Gravy is Berkeley’s greatest treasure. I have written three posts about him – his road to Berkeley, his time in Berkeley, and some of his stuff, the third one being the relevant post for our exercise here..
These photographs are from Wavy’s work room / prayer room with its puja table. A puja is a prayer ritual from the Hindu faith tradition of devotional worship to one or more deities. The puja table may be used for sacred text, icons, incense, or in the case of Wavy Gravy, all that plus stuff.
Batting next – Howie Gordon.
Gordon first came to the house at 2233 McKinley in 1969. He was a student at Antioch College working for the Department of Labor in San Francisco on what Antioch called a co-op job. Work experience was part of Antioch’s vision of a well-rounded education.
Upon arriving in the Bay Area, Gordon visited a friend who was moving into the McKinley house. As he arrived for the visit, a caravan of hippies was leaving the house for a weekend in Mariposa. He went along. When they got to Mariposa, he was introduced to the joy and beauty of hippie culture. This was for him!
The house was part of the Dragon’s Eye commune. Michael Rossman and Karen McLellan were the anchors of the commune. Rossman was a Very Central Figure in the Free Speech Movement.
Gordon is still there. He expresses himself with arrangements of stuff, much of which is suspended from the ceiling.
You may see the post on Howe here.
Thanks to Geneva and Julie Addison and Jenny Hurth, I was able to photograph and write about Eli Leon and his collections.
His major collecting was of quilts, especially quilts made by African-Americans. But beyond that, the stuff. It was really something.
My work on the Alan Cohen collections was again thanks to Geneva Addison, who faith her mother handled the estate sale.
I wrote one post and then a second one about Cohen’s collections.
A few years ago we visited Susan Alexander and Tom Tollersen in Glenn Ellen.
Her collections were the reason for the trip, and they did not disappoint. They are mostly drawn from folk art, but not entirely.
My full post about Susan’s collections and home is here.
A 2018 field trip took us to Allen Sawyer’s apartment in San Francisco. To pay the rent he handled the box office for Beach Blanket Babylon. To satisfy his artistic soul, he produces plays and cabaret performances. He often worked with John F. Karr directing solo and ensemble shows for many of San Francisco’s drag performers. Allen Sawyer is a witty, clever, funny, creative genius who collects. My post about him is here.
There are a number of subsets within Sawyer’s collection. One is paint-by-number paintings. They stun.
There are two subsets in the bathroom – mermen and plaster fish.
Jon Balderston is Quirky Berkeley royalty.
He builds brilliant decorative furniture and he collects toys and board games and packaging and oh so many other little things.
This is the second story of his house. He coined the term “Hodge Podge Lodge” to describe his garage/work studio, but I think I should be applied here.
I began this post talking about Will Squier. I have written about him three times, in an original post which was updated, and then recently. These photos are from the earlier posts, except for the photo of Squier and Kitten.
For me, these photos inspire.
But – I remember reading Lord Jim in high school. I remember –
He sat down and, with both elbows on the desk, rubbed his forehead. “And yet it is true — it is true. In the destructive element immerse.” . . . He spoke in a subdued tone, without looking at me, one hand on each side of his face. “That was the way. To follow the dream, and again to follow the dream — and so — usque ad finem. . . .” The whisper of his conviction seemed to open before me a vast and uncertain expanse, as of a crepuscular horizon on a plain at dawn — or was it, perchance, at the coming of the night?
Usque Ad Finem means “To the Very End.”
The point being – these collections appeal to the destructive element within me. I am drawn to them. eBay calls. Flea markets call. But I resist, just as the heroes resisted temptation of the seductive sirens of Greek mythology. I find solace in their resistance.
And at my best moments these collections of others calm me. I don’t have to do it because they did.
My friend looked through the photos of the collections. He handed me a photo.
“For you. You talk about Horn and Hardart and the cup custard that you loved so much and the automat deal. The first automat in the U.S. was opened June 12, 1902, at 818 Chestnut Street. This one was right down City Line from your school.” I thanked him. He’s right, I did love the cup custard. It was a thoughtful gift.
I tucked the photo around. “How do you rate this compilation post?”