“Spring is the time of plans and projects.” ― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
HARUMPH! It’s been quite some time since I’ve painted anything other than logos or perfect lines of text. The Urban Camo Seed Bomb project demands a certain photo-realistic precision and that series has ruled my brain for longer than I care to remember. “Out, damn OCD; out I say!” should be my creative mantra – in both good ways and bad.
But obsessive, anal-retentive work is better suited for gloomy winter days indoors; spring calls for more spontaneous, lively, and organic art. So in honor of the season I’ve decided to add some more delicate and painterly pieces to my seed bomb repertoire. Consider this a change of pace and an aesthetic declaration of “Fuck off winter, it’s time for sunshine!” Let me present the first additions to the Faberge Egg Seed Bomb Series. Continue reading
Book lending on the edge of Nowhere.
Vol. 1 The Freeman Landfill Library. Albany Bulb. Albany, CA
The Albany Bulb should not exist.
Much like the entire bay, it’s a man-made intervention into natural space, a construct of fill and development brokered by non-native peoples and plants and materials. When it comes to nature, “there is no there, there” and hasn’t been for some time. But it feels close, in a very visceral and real way. The greenery stretched taut over concrete and metal bones, it serves as a passable substitute for authentic wilderness. A stand-in for the world That Was – before tech rushes, rail rushes, and gold rushes changed the physical foundation of the region forever. Continue reading
Incomplete paint job is both awkward and incomplete. Above are before-and-after shots of two piano company adverts on the side of 1020 Market Street. Built in 1908, the building recently underwent it’s third graffiti/ghost sign abatement paint job, completely obscuring the C.G. Horn Pianos sign. However, this most recent (and most opaque) paint job frames the Pianos for Rent sign in a really lovely way. If you’re going to paint a third of a building in garish brick orange you might as well kern it to the ghost sign.
Also, I’m very curious about those triangular windows – they don’t exactly match the time period and/or architecture of this building.
Polk by Geary by Van Ness by Cedar
Eventually this will become medical offices; part of a greater hospital complex for the Polk Gulch/Cathedral Hill neighborhood. For unlike other parts of the Tenderloin, there’s a purposefulness behind this stretch of seven blighted storefronts. The buildings wait, dreaming of wrecking balls and the grandiose plans of developers. Patient, quiet dreams obscured behind layers of plywood and the drab, mismatched tones of graffiti abatement paint.
Which is exactly why I love this doomed little block.
As shot from Minna
While I hate to see old buildings go, part of me loves the jack-o-lantern smile of blocks in transition; especially when they lead to new ghost sign reveals. For instance, shown above is a picture I took in November 2011 of the Albain Hotel at 948 Mission Street.
The building dates from 1907 and has two clearly visible signs, one for a small rooming hotel and the other for a safe manufacturer.
Furnished Rooms ___ ____ $2.00 Up
Last month I was fortunate enough take a special tour of Grace Cathedral’s catwalks. I’m absolutely terrified of heights but as this tour isn’t normally offered to the public I had to accept. WOW… Designed in 1928 and completed in 1964, the cathedral was built in the French Gothic style which means it’s all about grandiose heights and soaring columns and cloud-brushing spires. I managed to complete the tour with no fewer than two minor panic attacks which is actually impressive, all things considered. Despite shooting with a broken flash and a finicky light meter I managed to capture a few highlights from the tour.
View Urban Camo Seed Bombs in a larger map
I love using maps to visualize data. It’s often the only method that allows me to see/think through my spatial blind spots. So of course I had to throw my Urban Camo Seed Bomb data into Google Maps to help gain perspective on future placement sites. Turns out that using Google Street View in my neighborhood is FASCINATING. I blame the rain, my various winter colds, and the resulting cabin fever for this newfound interest in digital urban explorations. Google Maps Hole!
So after thoroughly exploring the pixelated contours of this particular Map Hole I’ve found some special tidbits and interesting urban puzzles worthy of sharing. Consider this the best of the weird from Fruitvale and Google.
Both of these Urban Camo Seed Bombs disappeared within one week. The Pyramid Brewing cap is from the Bay Trail near the High Street Bridge. The Holiday Shiner cap is from the freeway onramp at 40th Avenue and 12th Street.
I really wonder where these go. Are my neighbors collecting them? Are magpies and crows scooping them up? Are dogs wolfing them down? I guess I’ll never know. But in the future I should probably aim for more covert seed bomb placement.
I love the Grand Lake Theater. Oakland has some beautiful buildings and some exquisite theaters but I only have eyes for the Grand Lake. It’s the sign that does it for me – I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more spectacular sign in my life. Brimming with grandeur it speaks of a time when movies were Important and seeing them was Special. A time before the multiplex and artificially buttered popcorn and watching Netflix in your underwear. Classic, sophisticated, and BRIGHT it’s quite the piece of work.
Per the Grand Lake’s Wikipedia page:
The sign mounted on top of the Grand Lake Theater is the largest rotary contact sign west of the Mississippi River. It measures 52 feet (15.85m) high by 72 feet (21.95m) wide and consists of 2,800 colored bulbs and was designed by Theodore Wetteland. The firing sequence is controlled by a device much like a music box. The sign is typically lit Friday and Saturday, from dusk until the start of the last show of the night.
Obviously a sign of that scale will leave an impression on a neighborhood. So I walked around Lake Merritt and up the commercial corridors of Grand and Lakeshore to count the murals depicting the Grand Lake Theater. On my walk I found four.
I love this sign.
It’s decay and it’s color contrast and it’s geometry and it’s everything.
But looking at it closely; doesn’t that octagonal frame seem awfully fancy for a one hour photo shop? And the two arched frames to either side; those were definitely custom, right? So where did they come from?