It is a fair question. What have I done for you lately?
I update existing posts regularly. Here I log the updates for your updating pleasure.
From most recent posts backwards, here are the latest posts:
It’s Thanksgiving, and this holiday notional field trip is to the-once-a-month faire at Alameda Point. Marcia Donahue and Jon Balderston were my guides. Lucky! An incredible experience.
I continue my embrace of Kitsch with a look at the über kitsch in the front yard at 1106 Colusa. What a manifestations of our creativity and individuality that function as gifts to the street!
Another old business – Chris and Gerald Seegmiller, sons of Berkeley and their store. It was Sam the Vacuum Man, then Berkeley Hardware Vacuum, and since the early 1980s the Seegmillers. 10 out of 10.
Another in a series of occasional suggested spots for your acquisition of quirky material culture, the Antique Center at 6519 Telegraph. At least 60 years in business, son and mother, a cat that bites, and tons of quirk.
This is a two-fer, two rules broken. My rules exclude seasonal – here I present seasonal. My rules require Berkeley – here I present Oakland. Break the rules Tom!
Between 1950 and 1970, one block on Oregon Street was home to Chiura Obata, Pauline Kael, and Max Scherr, three striking examples of the creativity and values that define Berkeley.
The third chapter in my exploration of old Berkeley businesses – the fourth generation running a small Berkeley business, an element of what makes Berkeley Berkeley.
For years I have avoided kitsch in Berkeley’s yards. Reverse course! I embrace it. Here I present kitsch from half a dozen yards, plus an End War sculpture, plus a stunning array of bonsho, Buddhist bells.
It is a charming working class, economically diverse block just east of San Pablo Avenue. It’s about the change. This is the tale of how it is and where it is headed.
For 91 years, we have gone to Pettingell’s for our book binding needs, the last 23 of which Klaus Rötzscher has been the owner and binder. Beautiful things, beautiful tools and machines, beautiful materials. A treasure!
Judy Gumbo, our most famous female Yippie, lives in a Berkeley co-housing community with material reminders of the 1960s and 1970s on every wall of her house. Her politics have not changed.
FINALLY – photographs of Allen Ginsberg’s cottage behind 1624 Milvia, where he lived in 1955 and 1956. Dennis Starleaf lived in the cottage two years later and sent five GREAT photos. History! Berkeley!
From 1964 until 1969 – the Free Speech Movement, the Red Square Dress Shop, People’s Park, and the crown of Miss Chinatown SF 1965. Only here. Only then.
Day three of a three-day weekend – a third post. A first taste of Quirky Reno – the Flintstones, a big VW Bug/Spider, and the Generator DIY workspace. Shown here, Maya’s Mind by Mischell Riley.
Snook suggested in the winter that we come back in the summer as NIMBY gets Burning Man real. We did. It was hot and dusty and sizzled – and on its way to Burning Man Real.
The first of three Labor Day weekend field trip posts. Michael Snook is the creative genius and owner at NIMBY in East Oakland, a DIY/makers space with strong connections to Burning Man.
This post represents an open-arms embrace of what others might call kitsch. Bright, gaudy, sentimental art in front of stucco day care on Colusa. A gift to the street and quirky.
Folk art, collected art, kitsch, and Bob Fischer’s photography and paintings fill his house. An inspiring hodgepodge of extraordinary things.
The magic journey of Alice and Don Schenker, from the Beat movement to 20 years on Telegraph with the Print/Reprint Mint, selling art prints, posters, and underground comics.
I went to 374 Vassar to re-photograph a whale weathervane and got my second big surprise on that street – a quirky garden and a Best of Berkeley couple, Suzanne and Charles McCulloch.
A QB friend suggested that I look at some of Berkeley’s older businesses. Good idea! Here is a look at Lasher’s Electronics, 57 years now on University
In 2010, Adolfo “Fito” Celedon Bravo died shortly after being shot at Emerson and Adeline during an armed robbery. The post is about love, death, and a public sacred place. Hint: the story has not ended.
Zalman Sher is selling more of his father Izzy’s metal art. Izzy’s work is stunning, and he was a leading figure of Bohemian Berkeley before the Big Changes of the late 1960s.
For four years, I searched without success for a photograph of the Fuji Inn on Telegraph – Jack Kerouac used to eat there. In late June, my obsessive search paid off – two photos in one night! Rapture!
For the 4th of July – field trip to San Anselmo. A toy store – sort of – where idea leads to idea leads to idea. Fanciful. Whimsical. Brilliant. The best of the best. Yes!
Paintings and pillows and photographs and beads and skulls and dolls – anything but a boring space. Julia Vinograd lives in the California Apartments – adding visual prankster to her career as street poet and bubble lady.
A fellow traveler! Quirky Berkeley evolving! A glimpse at Ian Wood’s Instagram collection of photos of Berkeley garage doors. We are a movement!
Beginning this weekend, Eli Leon’s non-textile collections will be sold at his Dover Street house. A great chance for the greatest quirk.
For 55 years, Eli Leon made art and collected. Traditional quilts, Afro-traditional quilts, and kitcheniana were the main categories. Here – a view of his collections and a brief biographical portrait.
Debbie Vinograd came to Berkeley in 1974. Her sister Julia opened the magical doors of Berkeley for her. She stayed, and has painted since. A story of bright colors and surreal and love and collages.
Join the flaneur as he walks six blocks south from University on Shattuck, documenting relief sculpture and facades, beauty for the sake of beauty.
Murals, a yo-yo museum, Asian clutter, crazed memorabilia and oddities on a bar wall, and a fairytale park. Who knew?
Words as graphics. Words as meaning. Words as material culture. My favorite – Malvina Reynolds’ celebration of modest heroes.
You don’t need a weathervane to know which way the wind blows, but they help. Mostly decorative these days, I find them staid but quirky. These photos – mostly not roosters.
So – 50 years since the Summer of Love. It was more of a San Francisco thing that a Berkeley thing, but here – history lite of our town in that year, mostly courtesy of the Barb.
While mourning the loss of the mural at the old CIL on Telegraph, I celebrate here the public art at the Ed Roberts Campus – photographs and hand-painted tiles.
This is my sixth post on business signage, which I find quirky. If nothing else, it is of some historical interest. Paul’s Shoes rocks quirky, no?
From Ken Stein’s files – clippings mostly from Grassroots in the 1970s and early 1980s. Architectural heritage, “Carpetgate,” disability rights, and more.
Two and half years after my first visit to Helen Holt’s Helly Welly shop on Dwight I went back. The creativity and quirk rock strong. Lots of new, quirky work.
Urban Ore, Hygenic Dog Food, All Power Labs, and Michael Christian’s art. Quirky. Young and struggling and creative. An infusion of good maker DNA into Berkeley.
Steve Papai runs Automatic Response on Eastshore. They shred paper and destroy hard drives. He collects old office equipment – typewriters, comptometers, and check protectors.
A rainbow fence with 13 colors not 7. Bricks as books on a bookshelf. A marble gate. Magic! Thanks to Tara and Gregoire Jacquet.
In Berkeley, we rock with the peace vibe. Here – photos of poles proclaiming the hope that peace prevail on earth. Peace train take this country…
Mykael Moss is at it again – unabated in her passion for Berkeley and fascination for the thoughts we express with bumper stickers. We care!
A sampling of Berkeley’s tree houses, markers of childhood and innocence. They evoke. They make me smile.
The industrial and vintage oddities at Ohmega Salvage on San Pablo are PERFECT for DIY Quirk. Or just wandering and imagining. A great Berkeley hippie waste-not vibe.
It’s President’s Day – let’s conserve on gas and just go to Emeryville. At the Home Depot/Target shopping center we’ll find tons (literally!) of Bulwinkle steel sculpture.
I have found two in Berkeley – your write a wish on a tag and hang it from the tree. Wish comes true! I wish that there were more of them.
The early 1970s indoor mall at Telegraph and Blake is a magical time capsule, encapsulating a Berkeley that is slipping away. It’s facing the wrecking ball. Can’t we do better?
One can’t talk about the quirky in Berkeley without a visit to Games of Berkeley. Here, a look back at the old site on Shattuck and a look forward at the new site on Durant.
In our return visit to Cloyne Court, we got enough shots of painted doors to justify a post just on the doors. Clever, bright, creative. Long live Cloyne Court doors!
A return visit to Cloyne Court and a look at the murals on the second and third floors. Inspiring!
We continue our holiday tradition this MLK day with a field trip to Thunder Mountain, Frank Van Zant’s folk art environment in Imlay, Nevada, east of Reno. Dusty, windy, hot in summer. And intensely genius.
A few weeks ago, we said goodbye to murals that we lost in 2016. Here we greet new murals that celebrate life and love, manifestations of Berkeley Big Love.
Bruce Duncan was an outsider’s outsider in Berkeley until his death in 2009. Here – a small glimpse at Duncan during his years at Oxford School and Garfield Junior High.
A look back at 2016 and the most popular and significant posts from the 50+ I published. Plus – a little philosophy on how Quirky Berkeley is evolving.
Photos of 14 painted garage doors. What a way to express yourself. Plus – a call to arms by my friend for spray-painted graffiti-style garage doors. Good idea!
For our Christmas holiday field trip, we visit Clayton Bailey’s museum in Crockett and his home on the road to Port Costa. Ceramics. Robots. Phantasmagorical. And we are introduced to my friend’s friend Erskine.
A second look at some of Berkeley’s bungalow courts. Courtyard living! Simpler life! Night-scented brugmansia!
The carved redwood picket fence at 3102 Shattuck has a story that goes back to 1942. Here is that story, and the story of a Berkeley that drew young and struggling artists.
Mark Bulwinkle nominated the Star Grocery block on Claremont as the quirkiest block in Berkeley. Motion second, concur. A definite peaceful vibe. Four bookstores too.
Murals may come and murals may go and so it is in Berkeley. Development and change of use and corporate crackdown on deviant art have all taken these murals from us this year.
Metal lived and made art in Berkeley from the early 1950s until his death in 2007. Here – a look at his work, his life, his family. He epitomized the freedom of Berkeley before the Big Changes.
Our Thanksgiving holiday field trip is to the mosaic home of Laurel Skye in Arcata. Sensory overload! Go slowly. Click on the photos to get full screen. This is really something.
On Telegraph south of Dwight, the former offices of the Center for Independent Living and a 1977 mural depicting pioneers of the disability rights movement await the wrecking ball. Go see it now.
Dozens of stacked rocks and a trapezoid-ish gravel box with rocks and little animals – a wonderful addition to the Quirky Berkeley collection of small worlds. Plus a peek at how rocks want to fall up.
We have seen Connie Bleul’s public art, in front of her home on Marin and down at the Marina. Here – a look at her paintings and painted furniture – quirky as heck.
Another casual departure from Quirky Berkeley norms – Ken Stein’s extraordinary collection of Berkeley political buttons of the 1960s and 1970s. We had causes!
We have a good number of free book exchanges in Berkeley. These are some of the rogues, those not sanctioned by the Little Free Library organization.
Take a peek inside Precision People’s Auto Repair on San Pablo at Camelia. Suspended from the ceiling, and scattered throughout, dozens of large remote control airplanes. Suspended and quirky do da max.
A look at 40+ years of Tyler Hoare’s art – in the bay, in his studio, and in his Berkeley home. Best known for Snoopy and the Red Baron, Hoare’s sculpture and collages are so much more.
Noting a few murals that we lost, here is a fresh batch. Some are very new, some are just shown here for the first time. We aren’t the Mission District, but – our murals rock.
Ken Stein’s collection of sterling silver Berkeley souvenir spoons, most from between 1890 and 1910. A deviation from Quirky Berkeley rules of engagement – but brilliant and worth breaking the rules.
A re-do of an early QB post – better photos, inside the house, meeting Eni. A house and yard filled with art, much of which is dachshund-themed.
It’s Labor Day, so it’s time for a field trip. We visit Duane Flatmo, creator of El Pulpo Mecanico and other kinetic sculpture at his Eureka workshop.
A few months after visiting Kingman, we went to Cloyne and got blown away by the murals there. Shown here are photos of murals on the first floor. Many more to follow.
A fresh look at Berkeley doors – better photos and more photos and looser rules than the first-generation post I did on doors. Inspiration! A grand metaphor!
Found objects – trash from the streets of North Berkeley. Assembled. Photographed. The genius – retrieved and brought him by Darwin. A cat. Through the window at night.
I find bungalow courts to be inherently quirky. I realize that not all would agree. Here are some – not all – some of Berkeley’s fine class of bungalow courts.
An orange, mud hut, bale, shipping container, caboose, yurt, tree house, trailer, tiny house, Aistream, bunkie. And more. DIY!
Old Cody’s is the new Mad Monk Center. In it are nine sculptures by Mark Bulwinkle, honoring cultural and political and academic heroes of Berkeley – including Moe at Cody’s!
Raymond Loew – a great industrial designer – created the tower design for Lucky’s. This two-square Loew tower is at the Shattuck and Rose CVS, a former Lucky’s. Squares to the sky!
Art by artists with developmental challenges. Creativity and independence through art and the human spirit and – instant quirk for the home, yard, or workplace.
The premise – signs with a half in the number. The secondary premise – rock it old school using iPhone photos. Just like the old days.
Our Fourth of July field trip – to Eureka! Getting there is a significant fraction of the fun, and here are four major manifestations of Old Weird America along the way.
In the hills of Oakland with several nexus to Berkeley – Donna Reynolds and Tim Racer and their art and pit bulls. What a deal!
Urban Ore’s mission is to end the age of waste. It is a gold mine of DIY quirk. Be brave. Take a chance. Go quirky!
In 1974, the artist known as Stefen painted the Dutch Boy mural on Milvia at University. It only lasted three years, but it launched street murals in Berkeley, and it gave us Stefen, who 42 years later is still making murals for us.
A look at the conventional, highbrow-art murals of Berkeley before Stefen took brush to the Dutch Boy wall on Milvia in January 1974.
Kingman Hall, a Student Housing Co-op on La Loma, is home to many, many murals. The spirit of youth! Some of the many shown here.
The true story of the UFO landing on Vine Street. A look at the world of George McNeil and Joanna Salska McNeil, art, hidey holes, and tree house. An obvious choice for the alien to land.
It’s Memorial Day, a holiday, so a field trip. Second stop with Susan Alexander in Sebastopol, Art Moura and his raw, crude, intuitive, outsider – unusual – art.
A guest post – Mykael Moss is fascinated by our bumper stickers. Lots of photos . Right dab in the middle of the Quirky Berkeley ethos. You go Mykael!
The quirky action figure tableaux at Lanesplitter Pizza on San Pablo, plus a bonus look at quirky dolls I have encountered.
More Bulwinkle! His quirky tiles – how he makes them, where you can see them. Where you can buy them. The very True North of Quirky.
Another holiday – Berkeley and private – and another virtual field trip, to the home of Patrick Amiot and Brigitte Laurent in Sebastopol, ground zero for Amiot’s junk art sculpture.
On Milvia just south of University, post-it artists at Customer Lobby, Magoosh, and Everlaw have gifted the street with post-it art in the windows. Totoro. Khtulu. The Galaga starship shooter. More. Youth!
A holiday field trip! Part Two of Marcia Donahue takes me to San Jose, here to landscape designer genius Cevan Forristt’s Asian-inspired yard, guest house, and house.
Soon it will move. Before it does – I honor the building and trains and Homies and models and the Chuckles for sale. All hail Berkeley Ace Hardware! Be not forgotten!
On the southwest corner of Gilman and Ordway, Avi Black has translated his lover of all things Balinese into a backyard Berkri-la, as in Shangrila. Very Bali cool.
A posting on relief sculpture in Berkeley. Some of it is on its face quirky. All of it is an intrinsically quirky part of our fabric.
A big old mission creep here – but – who could resist? A man with great passion and a great collection of miniature souvenir buildings.
No unicorns, but plenty of rainbows in Berkeley. Painted and in names. On walls and accessories. And a tease for the rainbow flag.
Ron doesn’t run Ron’s Mufflers anymore. Ron’s Berkeley Mufflers isn’t in Berkeley. But the muffler men out front – really special.
Our new holiday tradition – field trip! For Easter I take you to San Jose to see the tile work, ceramic sculpture, and weaving of Ted Fullwood. A big wow.
Artistic depictions of aquatic humanoids in our yards, sidewalks, and restaurants. And our livery collars.
Melissa Mork, the 4th generation at Mork Sheet Metal, takes HVAC fabrication skills and makes sheet metal creatures. Check out the grotesques on the roof!
Two sisters lilting in their childhood home, filling it and their yard with art – tiles, ceramic sculpture, ink wash paintings.
Performance artist/shaman Frank Moore lived here until his death in 2013. Linda Mac and Mikee LaBash, longtime collaborators with Moore, live here. The wounded healer’s spirit lives on!
Detroit and Paris and chocolate. Balinese dance and masks. Theater. And intricate “structures” that dance through the air in his Grant Street home.
A new feature – a field trip each holiday. Here, magic house and magic garden in Glen Ellen. Really something.
Mark Haggitt is a collagist who uses detritus of all sorts in his exploration of things connected to natural forces. Not fancy. DIY. Wonderful!
A collection of walls painted by Mark Bulwinkle. Not the medium for which he is most famous, but a technicolor version of his vision. Big wow!
What a pun! You know the sax-playing skeleton and the fish on Marin. Meet the maker, see his back yard. Dig the fish.
Rocks in bowls and in circles and stacked and painted and drilled. Rocks in our yards.
New rule – go inside if I want to. Here – Will Squier’s alarmingly amazing collection of what he calls sufficiently strange kitsch.
A house with stuff outside and Berkeley cultural history cred. And Howie Gordon. And two rooms inside that slay.
For the first post of 2016, I ignore the cardinal rule of Quirky Berkeley and go inside houses. Inspirational bathrooms for the DIY crowd.
A look back at the stuff I found and people I met. It was a hecka quirky year.
After years of celebrating Mike Parayno’s rustic birdhouses, I finally met him. I got more photos. I got more stories. I got a birdhouse! And a brand new post.
Art made and collected. Lawyer for the disabled, poet for the incarcerated. Art and social justice. A Really Berkeley couple with tremendous art.
The Wezelman home on Shattuck – African art, an African mud hut, Jana Olson art, Mark Bulwinkle art, Mark Olivier art, Marcia Donahue art. A brilliant couple. Wow! A+
A Thanksgiving post on Guanyin in our front yards. She is the Bodhisattva of Compassion. Her name means “Perceiving the Cries of the World.” There are cries of the world today.
Lamps. Unorthodox Taxidermy. Chicken plates, Marcia Donahue art, Mark Bulwinkle art, John Abduljaami art,the Grotto of Santa Basura. 350 tons of stones and granite.
Our search for Leslie Safarik’s joyful giant ceramic women starts at Ohmega Salvage on San Pablo. What a gift! So glorious we bend a few rules.
From 1980 until 1994, Barry Smiler and Julie Bidou gave us Julie’s Place, a moveable feast of acoustic and folk music. The idea lives on in Julie’s living room at Strawberry Lodge.
Sometimes what we paint is less than a mural. Here are many examples of less than a mural.
The presence of conventional lawn statues in a largely unconventional Berkeley makes, I assert, the conventional unconventional. Or, put another way, quirky.
Images created with small pieces of colored ceramic tile, colored glass, stone, or other materials. From our front yards. Sacred and profane.
There are two ways of looking at this. 1) Healthy surrender of need to categorize and group. 2) Lack of vision. I’ll go with #1.
We love us our Buddhist iconography in our yards. And no, I am not saying that Buddhism is quirky. The iconography is part of the quirky fabric, that’s all.
I don’t pretend to know what modern sculpture is. But that doesn’t stop me from making this page – modernish sculpture in our front yards.
Stop and park. Find the birds. It is a bright orange stucco house so it should be easier. There are more than you think.
Several dozen car-part bugs sit in a kiosk at Peter’s Automotive on Cedar. They wait. A bug’s life.
No rhyme or reason to the collection of stuff in front of 1608 MLK. Kanji! And a prayer for Wendy.
Olivia Hunter’s violet and pink celebration of butterflies, dragonflies, owls, and peacocks. And Dutchess III, dog royalty.
In which I start photographing columns, stop photographing columns, and then go gaga over these Camelia Street beauties.
Pirate images from our front yards and some lightweight musing on our fascination with imagined pirates.
As the old Cody’s rises from the ashes, a bumper crop of new Mark Bulwinkle work is blooming. Outside, inside, steel, sheet metal, tile. Oh Happy Day!
In the shadow of Alta Bates, a quiet neat street. And lots of ceramic animals. Dogs and cats and turtles and most of all, penguins.
More murals! My 11th post on murals. Who knew? Great new murals and – best of all – three photos sent by Quirky Berkeley readers. Who knew?
I contemplate the beauty of something ephemeral, a small quirky world on Amador. It went away. And then came back.
A bold post – two photographs depicting perfect quirk. Lovely depictions of Snoopy and the Red Baron on Hillcrest in the Uplands.
In 1998, Rob Garross bought and moved a Southern Pacific caboose to his driveway on Fifth Street. A caboose! Ultimately American. Ultimately romantic. Ultimately quirky.
A fantastic mishmash of sculpture and colors and signs and lights on Hillegass. With a fantastic backstory that I know nothing about. Quirky Berkeley Nation – rise to the challenge! Tell me the story!
For two years, Tad Dellinger gathered the detritus of university life and created a stunning Art Wall on a chain link fence in an alley behind Euclid. It was here but now is gone, remembered here.
An intricate mural that winds around the front and side of a house, celebrating fairies and California native plants. A joint venture by Stefen and home owner Riley.
Her house at 1137 Stannage is almost in Berkeley, but it is all the way quirky. Bright bright flowers. Architectural features. Bronze and ceramic sculpture. Exceptional.
Buldan Seka’s bright, giant ceramic freaks on Spruce puzzle and amuse. Her vivid imagination plus 50 years of work = a huge collection of over-sized ceramic pieces. A redo of an early post.
With guidance from Keeyla Meadows and sculpture by Patrick Amiot, Randi Hermann has created a gorgeous, quirky front yard on Vassar – double V’s, a big wolf, a mutt mailbox, and a chicken, all in exotic plantings.
Michael O’Malley knows a lot about text-speech conversion technology. And publishing a newspaper. And making a wonderfully quirky fence of doors showcasing his ceramic sculpture.
Siciliana Trevino and #Lisa take us by video to Eni Greene’s doxie-art house on Harper and the fish/tardigrade house on Mathews.
The iconic lawn statue of a pink flamingo is used almost entirely ironically in Berkeley. Here are a bunch. Iconic!
The premise is simple, if tenuous. The use of artificial flowers in a natural-inclined place like Berkeley is quirky in a world upside down sort of way. Here I salute those who use artificial flowers outside their homes.
Happy sun faces on walls and in gardens.
In the Old Testament, frogs rain from the sky. In Berkeley, they grace our front yards and gardens.
After an explanation of the calculations that go into the total quirk rating, an exploration of the use of shipping containers in Berkeley’s yards – thanks to a tip about one on 5th street that made enough to post.
A major redo of an earlier post – a look outside and inside the studio with the airplane crashing into the roof near Picante.
Izzy Sher’s sculpture is the work of an autodidact genius. Rust constantly modifies the sculpture – just as Izzy intended.
The woman behind those quirky installations on Webster. Her installations, and her studio and her quirky collage art.
A master gardener and a sculptor. What a combination! Exotic. Lush. Whimsical. Magical. Quirky. Inspiring.
A collection of measuring devices, displayed publicly and in many cases used as lawn art.
Mail boxes, weathervanes, and lawn art. Cows and pigs. That about says it all.
I built a post about artistic depictions of palms around several palms on a cinder block wall at the Webster Poolside Apartments. It’s a reach, but I love the Poolside palms.
In January, 2015, the seventh grade at The Berkeley School went for a Quirky Berkeley exploration of the neighborhood just south of the school. They took the photos and created this post about their walk.
Neon at night – Telegraph Avenue, Bancroft, and Durant. That’s it. Simple, calming, urban, quirky.
I got fancy on the turtle/tortoise and crocodile/alligator distinctions. I didn’t have many photos so stalled. But we want quality quirk, not quantity. And these are quality.
Even in the loose-goosey world of Quirky Berkeley categorization, this one does not lend itself to categorization. Too random to be a small world, so, what? It’s fun. How about that?
This is the first time that I have used the K-word, and I do so carefully. Lovely, classy kitsch and a lovely, perfect, not too-big small world. nice job!
Saws, spades, rakes, pitchforks, hoes, and picks as decorative accessories. No kidding. Tools as lawn art!
After a discussion of Coleridge’s willful suspension of disbelief, I present three castles from our Berkeley, as well as two from other Berkeleys. With disbelief suspended, these are splendid, quirky Berkeley castles.
Acknowledging that murals are not a perfect fit with the parameters of Quirky Berkeley, I continue to find them, photograph them,and post them. Seven more here, with a slight focus on Lou Silva’s work.
I draw no conclusions about this collection of photos of mermaids, fish, whales, octopi, lobsters, sea horses, and seals from our yards and houses. Just a lot of creatures of the sea.
The art at the northeast corner of Scenic and Cedar is profoundly quirky. Some is the work of owners Dan Werthimer and Mary Kate Morris, while some is made by others. It is a work in progress. It is great.
Helen Holt’s lamp shop / gallery / home on Dwight is magical. Plain and simple. Maximally quirky. Creative. Fun. Overwhelming. The best. The most. The all.
My love of Berkeley’s murals has taken me into the past. Here are photos – mostly black and white and grainy – of murals that once informed us but now are gone. RIP old murals.
While posting on lost murals, I found a 1988 home movie of the walls of Barrington Hall. I made screen shots and present them here. Too many to include with the other lost murals.
Neon – the light of night-time urban America. Come hither light. Magic light. Quirky light. And a disappearing form of light. Here – an evening on University Avenue and San Pablo avenue – a date with neon.
These are the theaters that are gone (or in limbo) that the older among us remember. They were open at least into the early 1960s, some into the new century. We were better when they were with us.
Berkeley was once a city with many, many movie theaters. Here are images and names of many that were gone before any of us were here to remember them.
Garish/gaudy/hyperactive consumerism meets early 19th century movie theater/palace grandeur. The 99 cent Store on San Pablo just north of University – great bargains and incredible, well-preserved movie theater flourishes. Wow!
We don’t just have fences and we don’t just have walls. We sometimes have quirky fences and we sometimes have quirky walls. Robert Frost sets the tone, and then we admire the quirky creativity of our fences and walls.
It took some psychological heavy lifting, but I worked my way past my need to categorize everything and present here a couple dozen wonderfully quirky things. That don’t fit into categories. There – I said it! I did it!
Buddhas on art car, nun in birdbath, Virgin Mary and gnomes, Virgin Mary and Snow White and Cinderella and Barbie. Undeniably (I think) quirky use of religious iconography. No offense to any religion intended.
Murals hidden by construction, neglect, remodeling. Indoor murals at the post office, BCC, the teen center, and a Pakistani restaurant. Amazing hidden murals.
The Sexual Freedom league we had with us from 1966 until 1967. Shock! Outrage! And other manifestations of the political sexual revolution and body freedom.
Front yards, front porches, signs, graffiti and murals – all depict music. A theme-based collection here, some of which you have seen elsewhere, some of which not.
These 20-something photos are of front-yard sculpture, gifted to passers-by (passerby’s?), all looking like what they purport to be – hence representational. The first of several posts on sculpture.
From East to West, Oxford to 4th, the signs that line University Avenue serve as cultural markers and thus rise in my estimation to quirky. I don’t include the signs of Indian businesses, which are posted separately.
Berkeley is not a natural habitat for windmills or water towers. We are not rural, and we are not a big city like New York with its water towers. We are we are, and we have what we have.
The outward and physical manifestations of an inward and spiritual quirk – signs from the Indian spice shops, groceries, music and video stores, and clothing stores that add to the mix of Berkeley.
When C.J.’s Motors on Telegraph in the late 1960s, it was reborn as C.J.’s Old Garage, an indoor space for hippie businesses – crafts and food. To a few, even now 2566 Telegraph is known as C.J.’s Old Garage.
We weren’t Greenwich Village and we weren’t North Beach, but we had both Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac here in the mid 1950s. A look here at Ginsberg’s time on Milvia and Jack’s time on Berkeley Way.
In Sproul Plaza there is a fountain that the Regents named after a German Shorthair Pointer who spent his days between 1959 and 1965 the fountain. The Regents as quirky – what an idea!
Marc Bulwinkle is an artist best known for cut steel sculpture. He is a genius. He works very hard. This is a long post about him, focus ultimately on his work that can be found in Berkeley.
Here – 19 photos of rusting steel sculptures on fence posts, a collaboration between Bulwinkle and the students of Malcolm X Elementary School in the 1990s. The kids are adults now. Their art lives.
A hidden Osha Newman mural off University, the Willard Pool, Thousand Oaks School, Welcome to the Lorin District, Rose Garden Inn, and a few more.
Chimneys are Tier Two quirk. They may not be quirky material culture in and of themselves, but they add to the quirky feel of Berkeley. I only ask that you spend two minute with chimneys.
In reverse alphabetical order – zebra’s first, elephants last. All beasts of the jungle. Lions appear elsewhere.
We started a year before Newport Beach. From 1958 until 1970 – a world-class folk music festival.
When the folk music revival hit in 1958, we were there with The Steppenwolf and the Blind Lemon. Then there was the Cabale, the Questing Beast, Babylon, Freight and Salvage, and maybe the crown jewel – the Jabberwok on Telegraph. All but Freight and Salvage – gone.
An exercise in visual acuity – patterns made by shingles. Not a lot to say about it, just photos of shingles.
I confess – I don’t have a clear definition of what is quirky when it comes to gardens. These are though – vertical gardens, green roofs, and eccentric containers.
Painted fire hydrants, fire hydrants as lawn art, and traffic-calming barriers as art. What a combo!
McCallum’s, Brennan’s, Celia’s, Edy’s, Ozzie’s, Home Cafe, Buttercup, Caffe Espresso, Espresso Forum, and Robbie’s Hofbrau. We ate there when we were young.
From the Oakland line to the Albany line, the sign art of San Pablo Avenue, our Boulevard of Funk.
Deer, foxes, moose, owls, rabbits and raccoons – artistic renderings thereof in Berkeley front yards. And a big dose of digressions about the woods.
Here – artistic depictions of cats and dogs found in Berkeley yards and on Berkeley walls and gates. Many are kitschy but that is not a bad thing in the universe of Quirky Berkeley. Some are outrageous. And I am sure that there are more.
An import from Berlin, her art at her home on Marin and on the sides of buildings and containers at the Berkeley Marina, Conny’art. Her work does not heed pigeonholes. She is original.
The theme here – flight. As in airplanes, as in rockets, as in space ships. And in the case of the Vine Street beauty shown to the left, men from outer space. We have them all.
When I started walking Berkeley, I assumed that I would find a number of geodesic domes. I haven’t. But instead I have collected photos of buildings that avoid in whole or in part the right angles that we expect.
Not to be confused with art cars – we use cars and trucks and car parts as the basis for art. From this traffic circle planter to cars on roofs to truck fenders as garden fixtures. Our version of car culture – quirky!
Here there be dragons – dragons as lawn art, porch art, lamp art. Friendly dragons and fierce dragons. A clan (yes, that is the collective word for dragons!) of Berkeley dragons.
Here I present more murals that celebrate art but not ethnic pride and not struggle. From the conventional to the unconventional, as epitomized by the doorway reception area depicted at the left.
We can’t resist. We see a tree, and we envision what it would look like with weird stuff hanging from it. And then we hung the weird stuff from it. And from a tree hanging is quirkiness – in spades.
While I wish that there was more, there is a modest collection of Googie architecture in Berkeley, Googie being the catchy name for Coffee Shop Moderne, the showy commercial architecure that flourished in the 1950s. Collected here are what I could find.
On the Church team: Holy Hubert and Richard “The Hippie Priest” York. On the State team: Robert Scheer, Big Bill Miller, Jerry Rubin, and Stew Albert. What a mix!
As we work our way through Berkeley’s murals, we have passed from the realm of struggle and ethnic pride to creativity for the sake of creativity. Murals come and murals go, lending quirk when they are here. So it is with these.
We have no giant dinosaurs – alas – but we have a good team of medium-sized dinosaurs and a decent representation of tiny dinosaur dioramas. They may have disappeared from the earth 65,000,000 years ago, but they capture our imagination and provide quirk fodder yet.
Marion Fredman and her children and grandchildren have created absolute magic with objects that we would throw away. It is mostly visible from Oakridge Path, a quirky bonus. Very high quirk factor.
A collection here of old, faded signs, mostly painted, mostly advertising businesses or institutions that are long-gone. Sic transit gloria.
A close cousin to the murals of struggle, these murals celebrate culture of the Ohlone people, the Maya, Chicanos, African-Americans, Brazilians, and Indians. They are really something. Or in the case of the mural shown on the left, they were really something.
This a great concept – the reality and mythology of the wild west as seen in the material culture of Berkeley. The supporting evidence is not as strong as I would hope – hitching posts, log cabins, horseshoes, and bleached skulls. But – a great concept.
Underground newspapers. Underground comics. Old weird material from after the Golden Age of Telegraph. It sounds simple, but there is a lot of it. Old and weird printed word.
The Alta Vista – wrecking ball. The Berkeley Inn – fire and then the wrecking ball. The Sequoia Building – fire and then the wrecking ball. Three of the seven grand buildings of Telegraph gone.
Bookstores were a big part of what made Telegraph Telegraph. The big four (Sather Gate, Creed’s, Cody’s and Old Moe’s) gone bookstores are shown here, as are another group of lesser gone gods.
After a long wait, a new classification of quirky mail boxes. Their quirk lies in their structure, not their design. They stand on weird things. They feature quirky drops. Etc.
I establish that bowling is quirky. I digress. I bemoan the absence of bowling alleys in Berkeley. I then get to the point of the post which is – bowling balls and bowling pins as decorative features. Why not?
I will get to Telegraph Avenue of the present soon, but here start looking at Telegraph Avenue of the past. A little general history, and then a focus on the long-ago-demolisted block north of Bancroft.
Of the dozens of murals in Berkeley, I am starting with those that celebrate struggle, the continued effort to resist force or free oneself from constraint. Some are naive, some are refined. All honor those who engaged in struggle in Berkeley.
The old train stations still among us, memories of the FDC protests, miniature trains in Tilden, model trains in store windows, a train-themed front yard, and a caboose in a backyard as office. The quirk of the rail.
A collection of signs, united only in quirkiness. Stores. Windows. Fonts. Names. Design. Not boring. Even the path name sign. Really.
See it now and imagine it then – the places where Ginsberg and Kerouac lived, the collectives, the Barb, Leary, Owsley, Ralph Gleason, County Joe, Malvina Reynolds, Cosmo’s Factory, and Beserkeley Records.
Here we go, a first tentative step into food as material culture, with Berkeley’s donut shops, hot dog stands, and two dives/diners. Many more to come.
I am not talking about the predictable fussy Victorians, of which we have our share. I am talked about bold, unexpected, quirky combinations of several colors. Bright! Bold! Quirky!
We take the human impulse to paint flowers to a quirky extreme, decorating our houses, gates, and businesses with painted flowers.
Pictures of about a dozen Tiki images from around Berkeley, the humanoid depiction of Tiki the creator and first-created. Also a detour of East Bay Tiki culture, the bars and lounges, past and present, with South Pacific design and themes.
In the 1920s, Berkeley and others fells fell in love with architecture variously called Storybook, Fairytale, and Hansel and Gretel – my favorite. There are little Hansel and Gretel cottages scattered throughout Berkeley.
Moving beyond flowers and birds, these painted mail boxes range from solid color, to abstract, to representational.
Berkeley, late 1920’s at it magical, quirkiest best. One block north of campus, a cluster of fanciful quirkiness. Best on a foggy, misty night.
Topiary is an art form of the establishment, but here are five examples of quirky topiary in Berkeley. They make me smile.
Big chickens. A quirky thought. And an even quirkier reality – sculptures, statues of, yes, big chickens.
This is a controversial post, I know. I find these photos of architectural grids to be quirky. Almost nobody else agrees with me. It is possible that nobody at all agrees with me. It will only take a minute – check them out.
A shrine to baseball in the East Bay, the Oakland A’s. A hand-crafted bas relief of great moments in A’s history, and a panel honoring radio voice Bill King, 9 players, 9 innings, 9th Street. Put me in coach!
Berkeley is not an old-car safe harbor with fathers and sons tinkering on a V-8 in the driveway, but the old and cool cars scattered around the city add a certain je ne sais quoi to our material culture. I call them cars that Neal Cassady drove, or could/would have driven.
Even the step, the mundane riser and the mundane tread, the lowly step, can be quirky. Images, colors, words. Sacred and profane. Cool steps.
I grew up not far from Pennsylvania Dutch country. Hex signs were around me. I was happy to find a few of these folk-art talismans in Berkeley. So happy that I lost track of where the first one is. Any help on this?
We tried stencil graf and survived. Now things are gonna get real. Down along the railroad tracks, at Addison and at Gilman, real-thing hardcore graffiti. Great images. Dangerous place. Don’t go there.
Back to shutter ma, art expressed through negative space. Or, more simply put, shutters with cut-outs. An idea that was a common ancestor of the Quirky Berkeley project. Flowers, moon, stars.
That’s it. Gecko images. All around Berkeley. Sculpted. Painted. Dragons and dinosaurs and gargoyles will follow, but start here – with gecko images.
We see something – most commonly a wall – and we paint a bird or birds on it. Some fancy, some simple. Some single, some multiple. Birds on walls.
Another small world, toys and figures and little buildings out on the street. They invite and attain pedestrian participation. They change every day.
Berkeley might be the home of the bears but there sure are a lot of lions. Kind of schlocky, but I find them quirky. Lots of lions here.
In the flats, ensconced in a decidedly unquirky block, is the most amazing collection of colors and small objects. Some are out for street play, some arranged on the porch. Barbie meets Snow White meets Virgin Mary. Wow!
In the ongoing saga of mail boxes as quirky material culture, we turn now to mail boxes designed to look like little houses. There are tons of them, from the simple to the deluxe.