Back to the core mission today – quirky stuff in yards. A few recent walks remind me of the treasures to be seen and the joy of just walking and looking – and patting extroverted cats of Berkeley along the way.
It has been a while since I blogged about what I call “small worlds.” By that term I mean yards filled with small objects creating a micro-universe of quirkiness.
Theresa Lipton’s house at 1411 Ada Street, which is just north of Rose and just below Sacramento, has a small world in the front yard that can match any small world found in Berkeley. Theresa has joined several of my Berkeley Pathwanders’ Quirky Berkeley walking tours, and I have heard her explain to the walkers how her small world got started when they took a tree out of the front yard. Theresa’s an artist and her daughter has contributed to the hectic eclectic quirky front yard and front porch.
It has been suggested that we start with the front porch.
Will you look at this! Chaos! Disorganized! Disorderly, disarrayed, in turmoil, maybe even topsy-turvy or anarchic. But Oh So glorious to this quirky eye. I know that there are those who would look at Bay Street in Emeryville and rejoice at its design, or swell up with pride at Parker Place (and Equinox right there!) which to me evokes Pyongyang and its tendency to embody its dictatorial nature through its architecture. It takes all types. I’m not saying I’m right. I’m saying I love the Berkeley that give us this front porch. This porch and the concept of genus loci – attention must be paid.
Enough eloquent rhetoric – let’s see more photos of what Theresa Litpon has given us. What better start than a gnome? Let alone with a book entitled My Rock Garden?
Buddha, tiki, and mardi gras beads. Get down!
One has to admire a front yard with signage saying “My Rock Garden” in one place and “My Garden Rocks” in another.
Whoa! That is one quirky collection of bricolage, gallimaufry, salmagundi, hodgepodge and has.
A few houses east at 1421 Ada is the WORLD FAMOUS ZEBRAS IN HAWAII GARAGE DOOR.
Owner Jeff Carlock brings the zebra inspiration.
With any luck, the zebra car will be parked on the street when you are there. It is one of the Truly Great art cars still in Berkeley. There are dozens of plastic zebras on the porch.
Dale Hopkins brings the Hawaii inspiration. Both zebras and Hawaii are seen in the garage door painted by Cynthia Kelly, a muralist who died in 2007. A map of the chain of Hawaiian Islands is painted on the driveway.
What Theresa Lipton has created in her front yard and on her small front porch embody Berkeley’s spirit of place. The belief that natural places were inhabited by a residing spirit – the genius loci – is found in Roman mythology. The spirit of a place is the emotional connection people have made to the place, based on the distinctive qualities of its landscape, cultures, and built environment.
Hence Quirky Berkeley, a love letter to our dear old Berkeley and the quirky physical manifestations of our character and values.
It is people who infuse a place with a unique spirit. When we keep alive what is distinctive and emotionally compelling about Berkeley, we have a real community. Thus may it always be.
My friend looked at my draft post at my request. He is understandably a little touchy on gnomes. I saw a small grimace at that photo.
I an obvious segue, he got out his vintage box of Lipton tea bags with new Lipton tea bags inside. He took out the tea pot and put water on.
“A little preachy there, weren’t you? But I dig the infusion of a unique spirit in a place. Berkeley, the soul of our place. It’s like an invisible net. You really see it when you come back after a while away.”
He is preparing for a trip back to Michigan with his twin Earl. He hasn’t been there since he left more than 50 years ago, but he’s thinking about the invisible net there, wondering if he will still feel it.
What about the post about Theresa Lipton’s small world?