Berkeley library welcomes back yarnbombing on racks

Fresh yarn decorates the bike racks outside Berkeley’s North Branch Library. Photo: Streetcolor

Some stories do have happy endings. Readers may remember in April when something of a brouhaha erupted over the “yarnbombing” of a bicycle rack outside Berkeley’s North Branch Library.

Local yarnbomber Streetcolor had decorated the circular racks before the grand reopening of the library, but the knitting was removed by librarians concerned over the distraction it might cause when they wanted all attention to be focused on the beautifully remodeled building.

Donna Corbeil, Director of Library Services, said at the time that it was  important for the community to experience “the completed project fully, without anything covered up or altered since it was the grand reopening.”

She also added, however, that the library would be glad to talk to the anonymous street artist about putting the yarn back up at a future date.

That day arrived on Saturday when Streetcolor and a friend reinstalled the yarn on the racks. “I thought about how many Berkeleyside readers had commented about how the yarnbombing gets dirty and faded,” she said. “I suggested that the library pick a date that I could install the yarnbombing and also pick a date and I would take it back down so the work stayed clean and bright.”

Streetcolor was pleased with the library’s collaborative attitude and the timing, as it is International Yarnbombing Day today. “This was my contribution to that worldwide yarnbombing celebration,” she said.

Berkeley library not thrilled about yarnbombing [04.09.12]
Never let it be said that Berkeley doesn’t love its libraries [04.09.12]

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  • EricPanzer

    I think I speak for a lot of people when I say, Thank you, Streetcolor! Not only do you give Berkeley beautiful and enlivening artwork, but you know how to roll with the punches when it comes to Berkeley’s nitpicking class. Berkeley’s more persnickety residents would do well to learn from your combination of creativity and flexibility. Keep up the good work!

  • The Sharkey

    Working with the property owners is all it takes to make the transition from being graffiti to being an art installation.

    Perhaps if “Streetcolor” can start doing more art installations and less graffiti, she can finally reveal her identity.

  • cranky


  • EricPanzer

    I respectfully disagree with your characterization, Sharkey.

    Per Merriam Webster:
    graffiti noun
    : usu. unauthorized writing or drawing on a public surface

    graffiti transitive verb : to draw graffiti on : to deface with graffiti

    deface transitive verb
    1: to mar the appearance of : injure by effacing significant details
    2: impair

    Since Streetcolor’s work is neither written nor, arguably, marring the appearance of anything, I don’t think it qualifies as graffiti. Granted, whether the appearance of something has been marred is largely a subjective determination. Nevertheless, I think the majority of Berkeley residents likely appreciate Streetcolor’s work and regard it not as “graffiti,” but as art or, at worst, “guerrilla art.”

    Either way, I think Streetcolor has served to add beauty and whimsy to Berkeley. Our reaction to it has only reinforced in many people’s minds why Berkeley can’t have nice things and how Berkeley has gone from being creative and open to curmudgeonly and obstructionist.

    Also, seeing as how you conceal your identity so as to manage your professional appearance and protect yourself from backlash, I think it’s pretty hypocritical to suggest Streetcolor needs to reveal their identity.

  • The Sharkey

    Since you’re clearly busy picking at nits, Eric, could you please point out where in my comment do I say that Streetcolor needs to reveal her identity?

    I say that she could reveal her identity if she wants to, simply because by not doing anything that could be interpreted as graffiti she wouldn’t need to worry about litigation. In case you’d forgotten, Berkeley is a fairly litigious place.

    If you want to keep picking at nits even further, I suppose what Streetcolor does would be considered “crafts” rather than “art” if you’re one of those people who gets hung up on how “challenging” something is and can’t simply enjoy something that’s nice to look at without stressing out about what it’s supposed to mean.

  • EricPanzer

    Perhaps I misunderstood the thrust of your comment, Sharkey. I took your comment to mean that you consider Streetcolor’s work to be graffiti (the connotation of which is negative); that you think Streetcolor should be in the habit of first seeking permission for all installations; and that Streetcolor should subsequently reveal their identity.

    My point was not purely to take issue with a technicality, but to show why I think calling Streetcolor’s work graffiti is wrong—both technically and because it casts the work in an undeservedly negative light.

    Clearly you meant your comment less critically than I imagined; either way, I meant no offense, and your points are well taken.

  • The Sharkey

    No sweat, Eric. I like a lot of graffiti art, and I like it even better when it ditches the guerrilla element and legitimizes itself. Other than permission, I don’t see a lot of difference between good graffiti and murals, and I usually like good graffiti better than most murals. My favorite semi-local graffiti artist is probably Neckface, if you’re interested in what direction my tastes run.

    PS: I’ve been terribly busy lately, but I’ll definitely take you up on that sometime. You and West Bezerkley are on my short list of B’Side commenters I definitely want to meet in meatspace someday.

  • John Holland

    Same here, your secret is safe with me.

  • berkopinionator

    The yarn is very helpful in preventing cracks, scratches and damages to the paint on the bikes.  I don’t know why they make bike racks without a protective cover.

  • I’d be interested in meeting you too Sharkey.

    BTW, two of us went out on a limb this weekend and met for a drink.

    I had a beer & Bruce Love had a Bloody Mary on Sunday afternoon at ACME Bar on San Pablo. I admit, I enjoyed sitting down to have a friendly chat on a variety of things. Before we left, I pitched an idea to Bruce that he said he would be interested in. The idea is similar to my alumni monthly meeting. We would lock in a set time and a place to have a monthly friendly chat over a beer.

    The only rule is that normal social courtesies would be expected and enforced by everyone in attendance. That means no yelling, no arguments, no using conversations from the monthly meeting to fuel mean spirited jabs at a later date online. Debates and normal volume conversations would be OK and would talking about things other than Berkeley.

    The most important part of the idea is that anyone would be to show up and know that they’ve come to a gathering of people with divergent views and where nobody (regardless of political views) would have to fear being ganged up on or ambushed. If this were even somewhat successful, we could all have some interesting conversations offline and in the process we might be able to improve the level of discourse in the BS comments section and make it less like an occasional High School cafeteria food fight.

    If anyone’s interested, speak up & we can work to set up a time and place for an inaugural gathering of BS comments section people. It would be a motley group of folks, but it could be fun.

  • PragmaticProgressive

    I’d enjoy hanging with you all at some point, provided we’re committed to not outing one another.

  • The Sharkey

    For that specific reason, I would never go to a meeting where Bruce was in attendance I don’t trust him any more than I trust Mrs. O’Malley, and she showed her true colors the other day when she tried to “out” WB on her front page.

  • PragmaticProgressive

    Yup, I agree.  I’d also be leary of getting charged at by Berkeley Deer. *smile*

  • Alina

    I was delighted to walk by these yesterday.  Was wondering if you were going to report about it…  :)) Thanks!

  • Well, it is clear that there are some that clearly overstep, for whatever reason. I’m just trying to do something different, but I do understand your point of view…very well as a matter of fact considering what transpired last well with the “other” publication.

    After B.O. tried to out me, I was reminded of a couple of things:

    1. Mean people suck. What BO did was mean spirited. I don’t know her and don’t know what her problem is but:
    2. I won’t let mean spirited people impact my life, so I’m going out on a limb to do something that could either be really interesting or bite me in the butt. I am hoping for the former, not the latter!

    That said, I do know the meaning of the word “discretion,” so if you ever want to have a beer, I’m game. And if you want someone else to join in that you feel you can trust, I’m game for that too.

    I do need to watch out for not doing too many one-on-ones though. That’s a lot more beer and calories than I’m accustomed to! LOL.

  • Bruce Love

    had a beer & Bruce Love had a Bloody Mary on Sunday afternoon at ACME Bar on San Pablo.

    I would like to add that the Bloody Mary special on Sunday’s (the “meat shake”) is quite good.   It’s not a swanky “fine dining” version — it’s a fairly hardy / fresh / spicy  comfort food version, well priced.   A tasty light breakfast with a sneaky jigger of vodka just to remind you it’s sunday.   (The bar apparently *also* does some pretty fancy high-end mixology, I gather, but that’s not my bag so I’m not sure if they’re good or not.   They *also* have decent post-ironic deals for the working (wo)man (e.g., PBR and a shot or even a draft beer for a not insane price).  Crowd looks to run young.)

    As to: 

    For that specific reason, I would never go to a meeting where Bruce was in attendance I don’t trust him any more than I trust Mrs. O’Malley, and she showed her true colors the other day when she tried to “out” WB on her front page.

    I think the shark person is feeling the consequences of talking too much smack about others while believing he or she won’t ever be held personally accountable for it.

  • EricPanzer

    I’m down and I’m anything but shy, so y’all know where to find me.

  • The Sharkey

    It’s reassuring the way you always reaffirm my general opinions/beliefs about what kind of a person you are.

    I’d try hanging out the olive branch again, but I know you’d just try to beat me over the head with it.  :-)

  • I’m not interested in outing anyone. That’s bad form, it’s mean, and that’s kind of thing falls into Becky’s wheelhouse, not mine. Just go to the site listed in my Disqus profile and click on my Lenin(esque) icon.

  • LOL, I love it.

  • We’ll make something happen, perhaps later this month.

  • Well I’m glad that we went by the rules and had a good chat without flinging peas and mashed potatoes at each other from opposite sides of the cafeteria. Until next time ;-)

  • Pete Rosos

    Power to the Yarnbomber! The berkopinionator’s got it right, not to mention that they make the bike racks look that much more appealing.

  • Bruce Love


    PS: I’m sincere about feeling bad about internet detective “outing” you here on BSide. If there are still any posts up that have personal information about you in them you think should be deleted, let me know. I spent a while going back and trying to remove it all, but there may be some stuff I missed.

    I don’t think you’ve done anything honorable there or any kindness to me.  I take you to have tried to bury your shame for your own benefit.

  • MarkH

    What happened to the commenter who complained that the ‘yarn bombings’ were unsanitary?

  • The strong semantic parsing of Sharkey was a bit much, given the neutral tone (as noted).  The most correct (if extreme) term would be vandalism, as pointed out in prior threads here.  You can go ahead and post the dictionary definition if that comforts you. 

    Also, I think it’s a deeply false analogy to compare the “art” of Streetcolor to that of Bansky.  Bansky is genre-defining, yarn bombing has older origins overseas and this is merely an enthusiast’s embrace of a pre-existing concept.  Quite different, if you’re being objective.

    At any rate, it’s lovely when it’s first contributed; I think everyone agrees with that (who objects to rainbows?).  But the question is one of process as Sharkey noted.

  • TN

    I’m glad to see that the yarn bomber(s) went back to the North Branch library.

    Yarn bombing is such a quirky and unexpected fun thing for passers by to see where least expected.

    But I agree with the leaders of the Berkeley Public Library that the yarn bombing of the opening of the branch was inappropriate. We taxpayers paid dearly for the renovation of the library. I think that at least for opening day, the new work should have been shown off as it was built.

    The key to the charm of yarn bombing is its unexpected appearance on something. When yarn bombing forces its way into a crowd expecting something else, it is no longer charming and quirky. It is just obnoxious.

  • Berkeleyfarm

    I’m also up for a No Outing type gathering ;)

  • Berkeleyfarm

    Quite agree.  Glad they were able to work something out.  It’s as beautiful as the new library. 

  • Anonymous

     He died of a staph infection a couple weeks ago.

  • The Sharkey

    Obviously you’re free to think whatever you want, even if it’s wrong.

    I first started reading and posting on B’Side right about when you reincarnated here as Bruce. I let my interest in the discussions about who you “really” were and my discovery of all the new-to-me posts and drama from your old account get the better of me and posted that information here for other posters to see.

    I’m not apologizing for being rude to you. We’ve both gone tit for tat on that front and I feel no need to apologize about it. But I do apologize for leading the charge to “out” you in these discussion threads. No matter what justifications I came up with at the time, what I did was wrong. I can’t undo what I did at the time, but what I can do is go back and delete posts where I revealed personal information about you and let you be the one who decides how you want to manage your identity here.

  • The Sharkey

    I also think that working with the property owners could allow Streetcolor to really advance what she’s doing to a new level.

    So far most of what she does seems to be limited by needing to be able to be installed fairly quickly and surreptitiously. I’d be really interested in seeing what she could do if she had, say, an hour or two to install a more intricate piece that covered more complicated surfaces.

  • Noted…

  • You Can’t Make it Up

    and in a cruel twist of fate, the gravestone was subsequently yarnbombed.

  • Bruce Love


    But I do apologize for leading the charge to “out” you in these discussion threads.

    I have noted that you have expressed a kind of apology of some sort.

    By your own admission you have cyber-stalked me and tried to cause me harm.   You’ve insulted my wife.     You dog me in comments often with replies that are hard for me to see as anything other than either illiterate or maliciously and deliberately obtuse.  You have unilaterally decided that deleting evidence of some of your bad behaviour is the right thing to do by me although I happen to strongly disagree (you never asked).  At the present turn you complain about my possible presence at a social gathering because of your expressed fear that your name might come to be more widely associated with your actions.

  • Bruce Love


    What happened to the commenter who complained that the ‘yarn bombings’ were unsanitary?

    Judging by the content of the article, he won.

  • serkes

    Sounds like a great idea!

  • The Sharkey

    No, I don’t think I’ve ever said I tried to cause you harm. And I definitely never insulted your wife.

    I’m also not “complaining” about you being at a social gathering, I’m merely stating that I don’t plan on going to any events that you also attend. There’s a difference there and I don’t believe you’re being honest in pretending to not see it.

  • batardo

    Would rather see these knitted with a zipper in the back so they can go in the washing machine now and then.  

    If “Streetcolor” would take responsibility for their cleanliness and upkeep, there would likely be fewer objections. It’s the filty, tattered and faded ones that bother me.  They belong in the same dumpster as the old Bart seat covers.

  • JW

    They’re gone again.  Sad…

  • July 12, 18:00-19:30. See for the details on the meet up