Trip to Berkeley, Public Art

Where Oakland meets Berkeley at Adeline and Stanford and Martin Luther King Jr. Way, and where BART goes underground, there is a new(ish) public sculpture that people call “Here There”.

Here, There
Here There intersection
"There", where Oakland begins
Here, There
"Here", the installation from the Berkeley side.

Curious story:  It seems that the women of the knitting circle across the street got their undies in a bunch over the word “There”, as though the meaning indicated a lesser value for Oakland — á la Gertrude Stein.  So they knitted a monumental T-cozy to cover the nine foot tall first letter of “There”.  I heard that the knitted camouflage stayed there a long time.

“Here There” was created by Steve Gillman and Katherine Keefer.

Many of you may have read about or even experienced the great Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989.  The freeway that collapsed was in West Oakland, a few short blocks from where this road trip started.  Living in West Oakland at the time was Steve Gillman.  He and Katherine Keefer worked with a team to create a memorial to the forty-two who died, and a mark of gratitude to all who helped save lives.

Loma Prieta Earthquake Memorial
The "ladders" of the Loma Prieta Earthquake Memorial

The Cypress freeway is gone now, replaced by a relatively peaceful urban walkway/bikeway/park.  On the corner of 14th and Mandela Parkway is this beautiful, and moving place for remembrance.  The ladders represent the generous and courageous people of this down-trodden community who came out to rescue and give comfort.  Some of those first ladders on that terrible night were linked together only by duct tape.

In the surrounding park the ground is sculpted into grassy waves to represent the way people of the neighborhood described the movement of the earth.

The ground seemed to move in waves.
The ground seemed to move in waves. (Photo courtesy of Steve Gillman's website)
A path in the Memorial through the waves of earth.

This detail of the project, photographed recently, reveals some paraffin wax on the cement retainer walls.  It seems that skate boarders have their own kind of Art Appreciation.

Steve Gillman graciously allowed me to visit him in his studio.  It is a fascinating place.  Waaay too much to detail here.  But one really cool thing is that Steve really likes to build and race cars in his spare time.

Steve's Simca, built by Steve.

Think: 1970s, drag strip, high tech, street legal —- and wicked loud.  Oola loves it and wants Steve to take her in it to the grand reception of her solo show.

Steve Gillman and Oola
Oola listens to Steve Gillman in rapid attention.

Steve showed us around his place where we saw granite sculptures that toppled and broke in the earthquake, chunks of basalt, stacks of metal, and great wooden forms too beautiful to discard, all overgrown by ivy and looking/feeling like a civilization sinking into some future archeological mystery.

If you want to see more of Steve’s work which is at once monumental and honest to the people for whom the art is made, see

Steve’s whole block is a warren of artistic energy.  He took us onto the adjoining property, which was a Chinese candy factory at the turn of the (20th) century. Currently, the property is artist work spaces. and there are artist of just about every description working there.

One person we talked to is Andreas Lehmann who runs a  glass studio.  He creates brilliant wheelcut glass panels.  We saw him working on a reproduction of some very old street lamps.

Andreas Lehmann
Andreas Lehmann
Old street lamp
Old street lamp

It took my breath away to see what Andreas was reproducing.

If you want to see more of  the glasswork of Andreas Lehmann, see

By jandove


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