In late 2014 I published a post on Helen Holt and her Helly Welly lamp shop at 1649 Dwight. Technically a lamp shop – in reality, that a lots more.
I visited again.
Holt and her dog Charlie Parker are still hard at quirky work. She still personifies Quirky Berkeley. When words add value, I will insert words. When they don’t, I will let the photos speak for themselves.
Like many of us in Berkeley, Holt has found the idea of President Trump to be troubling, deeply troubling. A number of pieces have involved commentary on Trump. Here she draws our attention to his hair.
This piece is “Brexit.” A horseshoe for good luck, a dove for peace, and a tea pot urging us to “Keep Calm and Carry On.” According to Knowyourmeme.com, “The Keep Calm and Carry On poster was commissioned in 1939 by the temporary Ministry of Information in England, following the printing of two other inspirational posters stating ‘Freedom Is In Peril. Defend It With All Your Might’ and ‘Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution Will Bring Us Victory.’ It was intended to be used to strengthen morale in the event of a large-scale attack or occupation, which many considered inevitable at the time.”
In this piece, I pay special attention to the teenager dancing and the teenager in the lap of Geisha on the Left talking on the phone.
In this piece, Holt celebrates the life of her late twin sister. The swans reflect each other, near-mirror images.
Of all the pieces in the store in mid April, 2017, none amused me more than the accordion hanging in the window.
Somebody Holt knows had a falling out with an accordion player. The piece features a Pinnochio (liar liar pants on fire), knives and darts and broken glass and burrs. I am reminded of Dylan’s Ballad in Plain D: “For her parasite sister I had no respect / Bound by her boredom her pride to protect.” This piece sure rocks with a spite vibe,no?
On this, my third or fourth or fifth visit to the shop, I finally saw Holt’s office.
I have a special place in my heart for people with crazy ideas. George Bernard Shaw famously said in Man and Superman “All progress depends on people with crazy ideas.” My valedictory speech in high school in 1969 was based on that premise. I believe it. I believe in crazy ideas. I like to see people with crazy ideas put them out in the world.
My friend looked up when he read those words while going through the draft post. “Well your friend Helen Holt has a boatload of crazy ideas, doesn’t she?”
My friend has an independent relationship with Holt. In 2015, she loaned him a triptych altar screen that he used for a holiday display.
“As for you and your love of crazy ideas,” he continued, “you know what Arthur C. Clarke said, don’t you?” He didn’t pause to see if I did. “New ideas pass through three periods: 1) It can’t be done. 2) It probably can be done, but it’s not worth doing. 3) I knew it was a good idea all along!”
Brilliant! As in – I knew Quirky Berkeley was a good idea all along.
Enough wisdom – what does my friend this of the post?