The chalk drawings that covered the stairs leading to the Marin Circle on Tuesday; short poems and collages found tucked under windshield wipers on cars along Marin Avenue last week; the brightly colored string that stretched between posts at Albany Bulb. If Berkeleyans thought that renegade artists had invaded the city, they wouldn’t be far wrong.
After we posted a photograph of the stair art on Berkeleyside’s Facebook page, it emerged that the striking work was by campers at the Westside Studio summer art camp, run by Jenn Burke and based in West Berkeley. The theme of the camp last week was installation art, and the young artists – most under the age of 10 – embraced the idea enthusiastically.
This is the third year of an installation art-themed camp, said Burke. The idea was inspired by the existing street and installation art in Berkeley, and by the kids’ interests.
Many street artists have classical training, said Burke, and they turn to the street to show their work to a wider audience than those who would visit a gallery, or because of a dislike of the gallery system itself. It’s an incredible art form, she said — “it’s not just painting down on a rectangle.”
The vibrantly colored Marin Circle steps made an impression. Deborah Durant, who took the photo at the top, simply exclaimed, “Wowza!” Margo Hackett wrote that she was driving by on July 17 when she spotted the steps. “I saw many young artists chalk in hand making beauty step by step. I don’t know where they came from or who they were. [It] was my birthday, this was one of the best birthday presents I ever received.”
Because installations tend to be large projects, many artists can collaborate on a single project, which is great for a kids’ summer camp, said Burke — as is proved by her photos shown here of the camp’s trip to the beach at the Albany Bulb.
For the beach day at the Bulb, they used materials already in place and made an undulating line along the sand made of seaweed, sticks and rocks. Afterwards, the camp trooped down to look at the graffiti that covers any structure at the Bulb. The counselors then brought out brightly colored string and nails they had brought along with them and the campers used several wooden poles as a frame for a tangled web of string.
We like to think Andy Goldsworthy would be suitably impressed with results of the young artists’ work.
Eden Teller, a graduate of Berkeley High School, is a summer intern at Berkeleyside. She will be attending Macalester College in St. Paul, MN, next year.
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