Macedonia-born Buldan Seka’s large and bright ceramic creatures have cheered and puzzled drivers on Spruce Street for years. I told my youngest daughter that they were my friends, that they could move at night and came to dance under the moonlight in our backyard down the hill on nights of a full moon She never believed me, but she liked hearing the story.
Seka is an artist, and this display is both a gift to the street and an advertisement for her visionary work.
Seka was born to Yugoslavian-Turkish parents in Skopje, Macedonia. They moved to Istanbul at the outbreak of World War II.
She studied and made ceramics there at the Academie des Beaux Arts d’Istanbul, but not the huge creations that she now makes and displays in her yard. She made the base of this lamp in Istanbul as a young woman. The shade is made from pillow cases in her mother’s trousseau.
In 1962 she visited a sister in the United States. While here, she fell in love with an Austrian-born lawyer. She married. And has been here since, married still,
Her work evokes the paradigm-shifting ceramic work of the East Bay’s Viola Frey (1933-2004), with whom Seka studied at the California College of Arts and Crafts, where Seka herself has been a resident artist for 30 years.
She is capable of smaller works, like this petite woman from inside her home. She learned the hard way what happens when you put pretty little pieces of sculpture near the sidewalk, and so today only places big pieces that would be carried away only with great difficult. The large sculptures are made in segments and fitted together. Each piece takes six to eight months to complete, although Seka works on several pieces at a time.
On the deck halfway up the stairs are many more pieces.
Just as I told my daughter Charlotte that the giant ceramic freaks were my friends, Seka considers them her family.
I showed the photos to my friend. He shuddered.
“Creeps me out! Like Laughing Sal!” He wasn’t happy. In the summer of 1976 I stayed on Shrader Street in San Francisco with Tony and Nancy Gaenslen for two months while I studied for the bar exam. In the basement of their house was a Laughing Sal head. The first time I turned the light on in the basement to do laundry and saw Sal – well, a moment to remember.
Back to the photos. “Aside from creeping you out, what do you have to say about the photos?”