2000 Berkeley Way (1)
Walls of Berkeley (Murals)
The Murals of Berkeley
Public art takes many forms, but one of the most ancient—think paleolithic caves in southern France and elsewhere—is painting on walls. (I'll grant that paintings that are some hundreds of feet underground and require a lengthy hike in the dark and a flaming torch to view them stretch the definition of "public," but we'll leave that aside for now). It won't take the visitor to Paris long to notice the huge murals on the sides of multi-storey buildings, and here in the USA, Philadelphia has raised the art to new heights, so to speak. Few structures in Berkeley are as tall as the grand buildings of Paris or Philadelphia, but that hasn't stopped local muralists from producing eye-catching work across the city. This section is devoted to as many of those murals as I have been able to capture so far.

As with my “Berkeley Gems” series, this collection explores art that is really both public and private. Public in the sense that is openly available for all to see and not hidden within the confines of a home, office, or institution; private in that it not only expresses the vision of the individual artist—or artists (many have been done by more than one hand)—but, in most cases, is also attached to private property. I have tried to avoid, however, displays that are obviously commercial (shop signs, for example, however “artistic,” and other forms of advertising). Why? I suppose the motivation is some Ur sense of “art for art’s sake.” Anyway, like the “Gems” series, the choices are mine and I don’t have much justification to offer beyond that.

A number of the pieces are well-known, even famous, particularly the work related to People’s Park and will have been viewed by tens of thousands of residents and visitors. That is probably true of many examples of this work, although I think they partake of a “hidden in plain view” characteristic common to the art of wall murals. After a while, we drive, cycle, or even walk past them without batting an eyelid. They become as anonymous as the bricks they are painted on. I think these are worth stopping for, and not only those that are located in the less trodden areas of the city.

If I have missed your favorite, please let me know. Where possible, I have identified the artist(s) and given any background information of which I am aware, but sadly, even the owners of the buildings of which the murals are part too often do not know much about their origins. This is not so much because they represent "guerilla art"—although it's possible that some do—but more prosaically because the building may have changed hands over the years or, even on public buildings, because it is not easy to track down exactly who commissioned the work. If you recognize these pieces and know something about them, I would be happy to put up additional info.

If you wish to order any of these, the standard size is 16” x 24” printed on metal by infusing dyes directly onto specially coated sheets. The clarity and quality of this process is astonishing, with incredible detail and resolution. And the durability is unrivaled—the frame is the aluminum sheet itself, which can be wiped with a wet cloth without damage to the image. There is no glass that is subject to breakage in transit or if dropped. Priced in that format is $250 (plus shipping and handling)

If you would prefer a larger size—up to 40’ x 60” inches—or a different format, please contact me for availability, pricing, and timeframe.