This mural is not here anymore. The former Dutch Boy paint store is now Au Coquelet. Just south of this mural there used to be a small shop that made buttons. They made many of the early United Farm Workers buttons. In the late 1970s I went there with a couple friends and asked if they had any old UFW buttons lying around. They in fact had proof sheets that hadn’t been punched and were happy to give them to me. I took them to the UFW print shop where my print shop buddies happily created hundreds of new old buttons. GREAT STORY!
Let me start these with the quirkiest mural in Berkeley. Bar none. Warning though –
The origin of the mural is 19th century French.
We are all famliar, I think, with Édouard Manet’s 1863 Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe. if you peek over the fence at 2799 Piedmont, you see a Berkeley, role-reversed version.
Straight-on, this is what you would see:
Let’s get our clothes back on and see someting less offensive to pious eyes. The Virginia Bakery is a block away from The Berkeley School’s Early Childhood Center, where my youngest daughter Charlotte went to school for three years. It was an indulgence, I know but after school we after would walk to the Virginia Bakery for a cookee and milk. And now a wonderful mural.
It was designed by David Stern-Gottfried and painted by hundreds of neighborhood volunteers.
A block north of Virginia is Cedar, and then west down Cedar are a couple of great murals. First, Subway Guitars at 1800 Cedar.
This portrait of Subway owner Fat Dawg was painted by Johnny Otis in 1995. Subway is as quirky a guitar shop as exists anywhere. No exception.
There is usually a bonus feature at Subway, the Fat Dawg car:
A few blocks west, at the corner of Cedar and California, is the Cedar Market, a well-lit, robust neighborhood grocery store. Berkeley once had many. Now, not so many. Bright, happy, even trippy murals cover both the Cedar Street and California Street walls, although this Flckr photo by Maltphoto shows the California Street side of the store before mural:
Now – California Street side with mural:
And the Cedar Street side:
The California Street mural tells us that Jennifer D. thanked the Sharma Family and the local community for help in throwing the mural up. (Graffiti slang). (The throwing up part). That’s all I know about Jennifer D. Good mural though!
Now to the southside, starting at a now-closed liquor store at Sacramento and Alcatraz.
Go east on Alcatraz to the Alcatraz Market (1601 Alcatraz). You say you will try to go there? Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.
Totland (1644 Virginia at McGee) has been a City Park since 1949.
According to the City of Berkeley website “the park was renovated in the late 1990s with the help of the Friends of Totland, and the mural on the clubhouse was designed by Jennifer Burke, coordinator of the Young Artist Program (YAP) and painted by numerous volunteer parents and children who were part of YAP.”
One more youth-oriented mural is at the Martin Luther King Jr. Service Center, 1730 Oregon.
In South Berkeley, at 2600 Grant on Parker, there is a vibrant fence mural accented by cascading vines and cats on the fence.
The old corner grocery store at Roosevelt and Bancroft is no longer an old corner grocery store. It has unexplained, cool art in the windows.
On the Bancroft side of the building is a changing mural. A year ago it looked like this:
For most of its life, the building at 3033 Shattuck was a liquor store. In 2002, a pet store selling fish and aquarium plants took the space over and muraled the building with fanciful underwater scenes. The first hint that this is no longer a pet store is the guard at the door, checking paperwork from anybody who enters. The first hint that this is now a medical marijuana dispensary is, similarly, the guard at the door, checking paperwork from anybody who enters. The fish are gone but the murals remain, fading into the ages.
I am torn about the mural at Whole Foods on Shattuck. On the one hand, it is more corporate than I would care for. On the same one hand, I am not thrilled with Whole Foods’ anti-union corporatism. On the other hand, it is a sweet little mural. I will include it. You can judge it.
A few blocks north of Whole Foods on Shattuck is the Willard School. I have covered some of the Telegraph-facing murals and will cover the rest next time, but for now let’s look at the Stuart Street mural. In the beginning, it was a bright and vibrant mural designed and painted by Malaquias Montoya in 1987 with help from California College and Arts and Crafts in Oakland.
It depicts heroic, multicultural figures in struggle and a dysptoian vision including American, Soviet, and British robot dogs. Here you can find a collection of photographs of the making of the mural. Two newspaper photos of the mural:
Time has carried away the robust colors.
At the center of the mural is a quotation from Paolo Freire: “If children reared in an atmosphere of loneliness and oppression, children whose potency has been frustrated, do not manage during their youth to take the path of authentic rebellion, they will either drift into total indifference, alienated from reality by their authorities and the myths the latter have used to shape them, or they may engage in forms of destructive action.” Pretty cool. In 2005 the mural faced destruction as it faded, as described in this Berkeley Daily Plant story. It survived. It is a great mural. Not sure it will be with us forever. Go see it and treasure it.
A few blocks further north on Telegraph and then down Dwight a few stores is Industrial Tattoo (2434 Dwight). The murals on the building are suitable for the industrial name and the tattoo culture – down an alley, behind barbed wire, in your face. I really like them:
There are more murals, many more, but this is a good-size dose right here. We don’t want to overwhelm. Each is quirky. Each is wonderful.
When I took these mural photos to show my friend, he was putting the finishing color on a working drawing of a mural that he wants to paint.
He wants to call it “Beer at the Lake 1955.”
I praised his work (he is pretty handy artistically) and asked what he thought of the murals I had photographed. He approved: