When I started this project I was not going to include graffiti. It seemed too ephemeral. It seemed that others had staked out this territory. But I then changed my mind. There is nothing uniquely Berkeley about graffiti, but it is among us and it is quirky and adds to the whole quirky fabric of our city.
Before I get to the warehouses and factories and freeway underpasses and railroad tracks, I will begin with stencil graffiti, a subculture with art that is tidier and more accessible to mainstream tastes than giant aerosol masterpieces. Warning: almost all the photos on this website are ones that I took. To a degree not found in most of my other blogs/albums, I include photographs made by others here. You’ll see.
If there is one name that we outside the subculture associate with stencil graf it is Banksy, the nom de guerre of an English graf master. One of his famous pieces:
We have no Banksy in Berkeley – we don’t think – but we have a couple pieces that are evocative of his style and themes.
Banksy pieces often include rats, as does this 2012-2013 “The End is Near” piece at Adeline and Emerson, now gone:
A second Banksy-esque piece is at 9th and University, on 9th, southeast corner:
The most prolific canvas for stencil graf (can a canvas be prolific?) has been the Ashby Shack, the long-closed film-processing stand on the northeast corner of Ashby and Telegraph. Over the years it has hosted a series of wonderful examples of stencil graf. I gleaned (great euphemism) some of these images from Berkeleyside and took a few myself.
A few others from elsewhere. Andrew Boni took these two photos during the 2008 presidential election:
Chris L. sent this photo to Berkeleyside, taken in June 2011 at Ellis and Alcatraz:
Also from Berkeleyside, this 2011 photo by Kim Aronson:
In the midst of huge aerosol freestyle graffiti along the Southern Pacific tracks just south of Addison:
Also from the tracks:
And – a statement of the obvious on the 800 block of Regal:
A few more that I took:
This combination of stenciled wheatpaste and aerosol celebrating anarchy was taken “near the University of California campus” by Eekiv on 31 August 2012 and posted on Wikipedia Commons:
This pure and simple stencil was on the 1200 block of Blake:
Plain old power here:
Endless Canvas is a local website devoted to graffiti culture, focus on the Bay Area.
From their posts in 2010 I present these images of stencil graf in Berkeley:
From Flickr – this 2010 photo of a Taxi Driver/ Travis Bickle stencil on San Pablo in Berkeley:
Also from Flckr, this 2006 photo by Banjo D from Telegraph Avenue near Whole Foods south of Ashby:
And speaking of rats, I found this on a car bumper:
From Tumblr, this photo by Top Hat Logic, showing a multi-color stencil graf at Telegraph and Bancroft:
Digression / tangent alert. Wheat pasted images are a close cousin to stencil art, and quite possibly deserve their own page/album -and quite possibly some of the stencils above are applied wheatpaste rather than sprayed directly on the surface. Berkeleyside published these two stencil-like wheatpaste images from Center and Oxford in 2011, photos by Tina Zhu:
Back to stencils. When we think of graffiti we think of walls or other surfaces that are in general perpendicular to the ground. But perpendicular means nothing to graffiti, as we are reminded by this very famous 1950s graffiti message:
On the sidewalk that stays beneath our feet – graffiti – and stencil graffiti at that. In Live Oak Park and along Berryman Path there is a pod of stencil octopi.
Mr. Pants did not stay in Live Oak Park. A few blocks up Spruce too:
Other stencil-on-sidewalk image finds:
And – finally – words by stencil on the sidewalk. In 2009, the University of California planned to move nuclear waste from its campus reactor. Berkeley being Berkeley, activists protested, and their protests included sidewalk stencil graf, which lingers today;
In 2012, Native American Elder Zachary Running Wolf ran for mayor of Berkeley.
Had he been elected, he would have been the first indigenous mayor of Berkeley. Hence these sidewalk stencil grafs:
A few final sidewalk stencil graf words:
I still have some urban corridors to walk and I expect to find more stencil graf. Plus I keep an eye on the Ashby shack. And now you have successfully matriculated Graffiti 101. You’re ready for some harder stuff. Soon.
My friend was lost – and getting greaked out – by The Book of Miracles. It was published in Swabian Imperial Free City of Augsburg in 1550.
He was slipping off the platform. I gently closed the Book of Miracles and showed him the stencil graf photos. I welcomed the return to reality. Of the photos, he said: