Trip to Berkeley, more Artists’ Studios

It occurs to me that I have not given a good idea of how many artist studios there are in this area.  Places where artist retreat to work on their ideas.  There are LOTS.  Just within 6 square blocks of my studio there are 6 buildings full of studio spaces.

About 10 years ago we saw through-the-roof upping of rents for these spaces and the growth of “lifestyle” lofts where you would no more think of dripping paint on the floor or running a table saw than you would take a long walk off a short pier.

These days the rapid growth of “urban horticulture” in the Oaksterdamn area is causing a loss of many of the remaining ART/WORK spaces. We will see what the near future brings besides guns, aggressive dogs, overflowing dumpsters, rising water bills, and skunk.  The landlord claims it is not happening….all the way to the bank.


In this post I will show two of the still many remaining studios in my area. The first is a work-only studio, maintained by Mark Lightfoot, and the second is a live/work studio maintained by moi.

Mark LIghtfoot
Mark Lightfoot

When I first saw his work I thought of Osmosis, the way a solvent such as water gains equilibrium of concentration on either side of a membrane.  The word osmosis comes from the Greek for “a push”.  Mark states that his work has everything to do with his love of the mysteries of nature.  Looking at his paintings reminded me of a phrase from a Paul Simon song, “…the strength to push like Spring”.

I loved especially the 3D painting in the middle of the studio.  The “canvas” has a translucency that allows you to observe the history of the paths that the wet paint took while pushing for equilibrium.  Very beautiful painting, both in technique and in lyrical concept.

You can see more of Mark’s work at

Here is Oola at the etching press in my studio space.  Mine is a live/work situation because I have never lost the need to get up and mess around with ideas in the middle of the night.

Oola in Jan Dove's studio
The handle goes the other way, Oola.

What is happening in this studio?  Well, first we are getting Oola’s solo show ready for next month (NEXT MONTH?!!!) at Merced College Gallery.  There is even a new Oola-as  image:

Gansta Oolaa
Gangsta Oola, all due respect to Georges de la Tour

Think on it: an all female gang victimizing a foppish young man, who, while he is suspicious, is blinded by his vanity.  I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.  The vertical elements in the background are pincers from the Sgraffito workshop.

Then, we just finished binding a new book of figure/line-drawing digitally printed on transparent film. You can see it in the picture above open on the green cutting mat on the work table behind Oola.  It’s a kind of make-your-own-image book.  Here is a sample pageandahalf.

Artist Book, "Disentangled", selected page

There is more work with transparency/translucency coming up soon including a series on homeless couches. (You can guess why I was attracted by Mark Lightfoot’s translucent work.)  I will post them on my website as soon as they are ready and three more hours add themselves to each day.

Trip to Fort Ross

Semester over, grades done.  Whoopieeeee!  The man who would be Mysterious and I headed off for a couple of days of snooping around at Fort Ross, on the northern California coast.  The Mysterious One is a history buff, and loves old things.  Both are found in abundance in the Fort.  This trip is my treat to him for having been so patient with me during a particularly busy semester.

It has been raining a lot lately and there is much more in the forecast.  But miraculously the two days we reserved months ago are serene and almost cloudless.  So we head north in the rugged blue Prius with Mom’s memorial Chihuahua nodding in the window.

On the road through dripping redwoods and lush green hills, my travel companion remarks that everything is a wick; that the role of all plants and animals on this earth is to pull the water out of the ground and send it back up to the sky so that it can fall down again. Everything that moves is the Ocean walking around in its cycle.  “You and I are here”, he says, “to carry the Ocean around.” It sounds more mystical than scientific, except for the pooping part.

Just north of Jenner, my companion comments on this site.

Pink Nipple. Not Photoshopped.

This and the RED cows on the GREEN hill.  You just gotta love California.

We get to Fort Ross State Park, and WHAAAA????….It is closed!  There we meet a woman with a Russian accent who has come to visit too.  This is direct evidence of the budget woes of the State of California.  (Not that there isn’t more evidence all over the place, the woes on my students being only part of the whole mess.)  Maybe you don’t gotta love Caliornia.

Well, we have the rooms in the lodge reserved, too late to cancel.  We will have to make our own fun.

Our room in the Fort Ross Lodge has a class “A” bed, a fireplace with wood to burn, a barbeque with charcoal, a private hot tub with a full, unobstructed view of the Pacific Ocean, No WiFi, and (except for the gentle thudding of waves arriving from Alaska) — SILENCE.  Comfortably worn on the edges it would be our contemplative home for the next two nights.

We begin to unpack, and …  where is Oola?  We forgot to bring Oola!  Oh, Man! Is She Gonnabe Pissed!!!

A glass of wine later we hear the thup,thup,thup of a helicopter.  Here?  We are used to such sounds in West Oakland.  But here?!  The vehicle lands, and out steps Oola.  Cripes!  She is mad!  Meanwhile two guys in grey jumpsuits walk over to the store across the street, presumably for a six pack of beer.

helicopter and Oola
How did she do this?

Those of you with sharp eyes may imagine that you read “Sheriff” on the side of the copter.  But…would I lie to YOU?!!!

About 2:30 in the morning I wake up and notice that the light of the moon is almost gone.  Stepping outside I see the moon-set and I stumble back into the room, trying not to wake the Mysterious One. I fumble for my camera in the dark.

moonset and stars
Moon-set and Stars

And, of course, the stars are amazing.  The three of us lounge in the hot tub, and look and cook and look some more.

Day two of the adventure, we three drive south to the picturesque town of Jenner.  We sip and chew some spicy, home-made-from-scratch, clam chowder. And we watch the Ocean trying to get into the Russian River inlet while seals snooze on the sand spit and gulls keep vigil.

seals and seagulls on sandspit, Russian River
Russian River meets Pacific Ocean

(or sea lions? Can anybody tell which these are?)

Seals or Sealions?
Seals or Sealions?

A little farther north Oola enjoys the surf.

Oola Surfing
Oola Surfing

The Mysterious One decides to walk around the perimeter of Fort Ross and back to the Lodge.  A truck driver — who was making room for him on the narrow road — seems to think the Mysterious One’s hand gestures are a greeting when the gesticulations were really about 3 cars coming up the hill just around the bend in the road.  The Mysterious One thinks he almost caused an accident.  He had no idea how dangerous it could be, but he gets back in one piece.  Drivers, you just can not be in a hurry on Hwy 1.

Meanwhile I sip pinot noir and watch a tall brown heron of very prosperous mien eating small pale mammals in front of my patio.  A few vultures are gracefully circling the landscape between us and the sea. Some ravens are dining on a small rabbit.  Low score for the furry ones today. Never-the-less Oola and I take a walk toward the bluff.  Oola has her eyes wide open for Mountain Lions.

Vulture seeks lunch

Late in the afternoon we three sit again in the hot tub and watch the approach of the next storm on the horizon.  It is spell binding and I forget about the damn camera.

In the middle of the night rain tap dances on the skylight.

Time to go home.  We pack up and drop off the key.

Back in the supposedly real world we stop off for an IN-AND-OUT, that’s what a hamburger’s all about.  During the meal Oola comments that this blog is supposed to be about the artist on the road.  So, where’s the art? (Sometimes she can be really annoying.)

Well as it so happens, next door is a store that advertises “Indoor Gardening” in big red letters.  Oola wants to see what kind of culture we can find in there.  She is interested in African Violets.  This might just be the place.

Inside we find rows of strange pumps and lights and heaters and CO2 thingeys and drying nets.  Oola finds some art.

wet betty
Presented un-photoshopped and for your edification

We don’t know WHAT they are selling (would I lie to YOU?) but it is obvious WHO they are selling it to.

There are many more stores like this in Oaksterdam. True rip offs.  The Mysterious One says that “Wet Betty, the plant penetrator” is just very expensive soap.  Didn’t anybody ever hear of dirt?  The plant is called “weed” for a reason.

Home and safe now, it is raining and it is time to begin serious work on my new upcoming online class in Advanced CSS (MMART 48VA and 48VB).  Oola and I will venture forth and visit some real artists in a couple of weeks.