How Quirky is Berkeley? Marion Fredman’s Tunnel Rd art

Marion Fredman; photo by Tom Dalzell
Marion Fredman;. Photo: Tom Dalzell

It is only natural that Marion Fredman would infuse her home and garden with whimsical art, given her long association with MOCHA, the Museum of Children’s Arts in Oakland.  For years, Fredman worked at MOCHA; she still serves on the board. Over the years she has collaborated with her children and seven grandchildren to use mosaic tile, tiny statues, ceramic plates, stones, and other found objects to create art around her home at 22 Tunnel Road.

As you walk up Tunnel Road, across the street from the Claremont Hotel and the Berkeley Tennis Club, you might notice a hint of Fredman’s well-executed artistic quirkiness.

22 Tunnel Road; photo by John Storey.
22 Tunnel Road. Photo: John Storey
22 Tunnel Road; photo by John Storey
22 Tunnel Road. Photo: John Storey

It is intriguing, but only a hint of what you will find if you walk to the back of her house. To do that, continue up Tunnel Road, turn right on Oak Ridge Road, wind up to the top of the hill and turn down Oak Ridge Path. The back of her light blue Tunnel Road house is on the right side of the path. She also owns the lot on the left side of the path;  it drops down a hill to El Camino Real.  

Fredman and her husband have lived in the house for more than 40 years, and her eclectic art fills her front yard and path garden.


On both sides of the path are found-object sculptures reminiscent of Marcel Duchamp’s “ready-made” art of the early 20th century. On the left, the chicken coop houses exotic chickens and geese, a collection of hubcaps, and an antique Pullets sign.

22 Tunnel Road; photo by John Storey
22 Tunnel Road. Photo: John Storey

On the right side of the path there is this:

22 Tunnel Road; photo by Tom Dalzell
22 Tunnel Road. Photo: Tom Dalzell

Yes, that is Buddha in an old pot belly stove. And, all around Buddha, on both sides of the path, is whimsical, non-representational art made with unexpected combinations of found objects. The sculpture garden is not an outdoor studio advertising sculpture for sale elsewhere, it is simply a gift of art to the public.

22 Tunnel Road; photo by Tom Dalzell.
22 Tunnel Road. Photo: Tom Dalzell
22 Tunnel Road; photo by John Storey.
22 Tunnel Road. Photo: John Storey
22 Tunnel Road; photo by Tom Dalzell
22 Tunnel Road. Photo: Tom Dalzell
22 Tunnel Road; photo by Tom Dalzell
22 Tunnel Road. Photo: Tom Dalzell

Several years ago, Fredman remodeled a bathroom with an intricate mosaic tile floor that she had created.  It seemed a waste to throw the old floor away, and so recycled throughout her garden are chunks of the old mosaic floor, like this one:

22 Tunnel Road; photo by Tom Dalzell.
22 Tunnel Road. Photo: Tom Dalzell

Everywhere you turn on the path-side of Fredman’s house you will see the art of whimsy and quirkiness. Her front yard, not visible from the street, is dominated by an unfinished found object/mosaic wall:

22 Tunnel Road; photo by Tom Dalzell
22 Tunnel Road. Photo: Tom Dalzell

Throughout the front yard is more quirky art, and this beast crafted from a mailbox:

22 Tunnel Road; photo by Tom Dalzell
22 Tunnel Road. Photo: Tom Dalzell

The whimsical juxtaposition of Fredman’s found-object sculptures fascinates, both at the level of examining the minutia, and from a distance taking in the whole.

For a fuller treatment of Marion Fredman’s sculpture, see Quirky Berkeley.

Dalzell, a labor lawyer, created a website, Quirky Berkeley, to share all the whimsical objects he has captured with his iPhone. The site now has more than 8,400 photographs of quirky objects around town as well as posts where the 30-year resident muses on what it all means. This is the sixth installment in the series.

Related:
How quirky is Berkeley? Jane Norling’s Nicaragun mural
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