I have documentary proof of the greatest known mistake I have made in my two years of Quirky Berkeley. Here it is:
On President’s Day, 2013, I walked Dwight Way. I took this photo of 1649 Dwight Way and filed it away as a former corner store for a future post on former corner stores. And kept walking. Without looking through the window.
If you get a little closer, you see hints of greatness.
Inside – Greatness. There is a certain way that I feel when I walk into a Maybeck house or a great public building such as 30th Street Station in Philadelphia or St. Patrick’s Cathedral or Grand Central Station. I had the same feeling here.
Helen Holt moved to Berkeley from London via Rhode Island in 1960 as a child and grew up here, daughter of UC Berkeley professor the late Maurice Holt. She has lived here on Dwight since 1979. She raised her two daughters here, in what had been Sherwood Antiques, and before that a butcher shop.
To say that Helen Holt makes lamps is true but it is a truth that masks the truth. She makes art, and some of the art is lamps. Her business is Helly Welly, a childhood nickname endowed upon her by her late brother Nick.
The shop/gallery/home is full. It is impossible for the eye to take in all that it is here, but here are some photos that give a sense of the genius that lies in the shop.
There are prints made by Mark Bulwinkle at the San Francisco Art Institute 40 years ago when he and Helen were there.
But most of the work is Helen’s. It defies description. It begs for photos:
The careful observer might notice that in these last two photos are the signs from Mel’s Drive-In on Shattuck at Channing. Big!
Do you see what I mean? It is hard to imagine that a more magical place exists. I am in awe. Absolute awe.
On a second visit we saw more. Or there was more new to see – or – both.
She has a small backyard, also artistic, whimsical, and quirky.
This is a link to her website.
And her Facebook page.
And – to think that I walked by and filed away my one little photo of the place. What else have I missed????
I showed my friend these photos. He was dumbfounded.
At the time he was reading a Huffington Post story on a psychedelic Scottish castle. He said, “That’s nothing compared to Helly Welly. She has really got it going on.” Anything else? Of course: