Special Delivery – Endless Canvas’ Huge Warehouse Graffiti Show

SWAMPY – from Fecalface.com.

I’ve been more peripatetic than usual lately; we subletted our apartment in anticipation of a visa that was a month late in coming so I’ve been housesitting all over the East Bay. I’ve stayed in four different places, all inhabited by archaeologists–I’ve started making jokes about how I’m studying their settlement patterns. I thought about drawing plans of the layouts of the houses, but then felt like it would be an invasion of privacy–so what kind of implications does that have for archaeological practice?

Special Delivery – by Fecalface.com

Anyway, last Saturday night I took the bus down from my latest domicile in Richmond to check out Endless Canvas’ unbelievable¬†“Sistine Chapel” of graffiti art¬†in a warehouse in West Berkeley. It was held in the former Flint Ink building, a warehouse that has been vacant since 1999. When I walked up to the warehouse I was stunned to see a huge line full of families along with the requisite cool kids. The three floors of the warehouse were lit with industrial spot lights and there were multiple DJ setups, infusing the concrete with thudding hip hop and techno. The building was absolutely covered and I walked through the warehouse several times, up stairs, looking down elevator shafts and out onto the nearby train tracks.

There were several gargantuan pieces by my favorite Bay Area artists–GATS, SWAMPY, Deadeyes along with a few I didn’t recognize. I didn’t have my DSLR, so I took a few shots with my iphone, but I felt that it was mostly unnecessary–so many people were shooting that you could probably reconstruct the entire installation from images on the web. Besides, I’m not sure I could really add to the gorgeous documentation:

Devote, by Endless Canvas

Along with the photographs are a series of videos that show the intense connection to place that graffiti artists have and how they express this through their art. The videos also features a “buffer,” a guy that goes around and paints over the graffiti art and so is deeply familiar with all of the different artists.

When I walk through Oakland the graffiti resonates so strongly with my experience of the city. New pieces, old pieces, new artists, artists referencing each other–it’s an intense dialog with place that can be both intimate, you won’t see certain pieces or stickers unless you walk the street and grandiose, such as the huge pieces that welcome you back to Oakland after you go under the Bay in the BART. Graffiti in Oakland is a passionate expression of defiance and home and I feel deeply lucky that I managed to be around for its effloresce.

Oakland’s Key Routes


Some advice: never try to move while you’re in the middle of one of the busiest semesters ever!

I recently decamped from Berkeley to Oakland, a move of about four miles in physical distance, and about a million miles in social distance. Needless to say, I have been happy with Uptown, my new neighborhood right next to downtown Oakland. So, like the nerd I am, I decided to find out a bit more about it.

Without getting too specific, I moved to Grand Avenue, a street that runs east from highway 580 along the north side of Lake Merritt and then turns north toward Berkeley. It’s a major thoroughfare and I expected it to be fairly old, as the path it takes is irregular and the name is, well, Grand. Not so much!

The earliest Sanborn fire insurance maps of the area date from 1889 and Grand isn’t listed. Instead it appears to have been carved out of smaller streets, among them “Charter” and “Jones”. Grand first appears in the 1952 Sanborn maps, as I’ve included above, but I’ve found references to the street from 1930 in local photographs and there’s a reference to it in the San Francisco chronicle in 1903. Anyway, from the 1952 Sanborn it looks like they changed 21st street to become 22nd street and the old 22nd street became Grand. There’s also a curious set of lines down the middle of the street–a Key Route?


Apparently there was a system of electric streetcars in the East Bay before the Great American streetcar scandal, wherein thousands of streetcars were taken off the streets of America through a series of illegal actions by major US companies who bought the systems and replaced the streetcars with buses.

Sadly, these streetcars were junked or sold to other countries and the tracks were largely replaced by medians. At least I can buy a Key Route t-shirt…sigh.

Eurydice’s West Oakland

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