Valeriya Safronova wrote this about the short-lived safety-pin-as-political-statement in the New York Times on November 16, 2016:
The latest political fashion statement? The safety pin, an object that’s been adopted in the past by statement-making celebrities (remember Elizabeth Hurley’s Versace dress?) and the punk movement.
After the election of Donald J. Trump, fears are growing that segments of his base may physically or emotionally abuse minorities, immigrants, women and members of the L.G.B.T. community. As a show of support, groups of people across America are attaching safety pins to their lapels, shirts and dresses to signify that they are linked, willing to stand up for the vulnerable.
I remember safety pins as punk piercings, but I did not remember Elizabeth Hurley’s Versace Dress.
In 1994, Hurley wore a Versace safety-pin dress to her then-partner Hugh Grant’s film premiere for Four Weddings and a Funeral. The black dress was made from pieces of silk and lycra fabric, with oversized gold safety pins placed at “strategical places.” The dress was said to be punk-inspired, “neo-punk”, and something which “emerged from the sari development” according to Gianni Versace.
It was a scandal. It was a big hit. It got its own Wikipedia page.
In October 2009, Lady Gaga was photographed wearing the “safety-pin” Versace dress outside the Hotel Principe di Savoia, where she was staying.
Back to Page Street and Doug Heine’s safety pin sculpture. Heine is thoroughbred Quirky Berkeley.
I have written about Doug – here. I have basked in his friendliness and creativity and support.
As is the case in much of West Berkeley, change is afoot in Heine’s neighborhood, Page Street between 5th and 6th – a neighborhood of working class bungalows, small warehouses, artists, and alleys.
The property at 812 Page, across from Heine’s studio, has recently been developed. As an armchair architect, I cautiously approve of the semi-industrial design, ever-cognizant of the perils of gentrification.
The existing structure was a two-story stucco building constructed in 1960. It was occupied by Huneke Plumbing & Heating until 1980, Trout Plumbing until 1990, the Building Education Center until 2010, and most recently AutoMate Scientific since 2012. The building was not a great architectural achievement.
AutoMate Scientific designs, manufactures and distributes precision biomedical equipment for neuroscience, biophysics and pharmaceutical research, including automated perfusion systems, valves, amplifiers, manipulators, software, and accessories for electrophysiology, imaging, pharmacology, and drug discovery.
Architect Matthew Wadlund of Wadlund + in Berkeley developed the property with Automate. Wadlund’s background in energy policy, land conservation, culinary arts, and carpentry. He was a design team member on the Ed Roberts Campus.
He demolished the stucco house and built an office building for Automate and four condominiums.
Heine sent me the photos above and the simple explanation: “Here is the safety pin that the architect commissioned me to do for the new office building across the street from my house.”
That’s a fine note on which to end the year. Let’s be kind. Let’s be willing to stand up for the vulnerable. Let’s be willing to stand up against those who would abuse the vulnerable. Let’s remember Matthew Chapter 25: “For I was hungry and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.”
Let’s care for the vulnerable.
That is the spirit of our Dear Old Berkeley.
My friend and his twin brother Earl (who are back in Detroit this week) and the Quirky Berkeley family and I wish you a great 2018. Resist! Be kind. Big Love.