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How quirky is Berkeley? Stan Huncilman’s Bullfighting Academy

"Quirky Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., is seen on Thursday,  June 20th, 2013."
The “Berkeley Bullfighting” sign at 2125 5th St.

The first indication that something quirky be here is the “Berkeley Bullfighting Academy” sign on the front of Stan Humcilman’s house at 2125 5th St. between Allston Way and Addison Street. It is a remnant from the “How Berkeley Can You Be?” parades in which we made fun of ourselves until the City decided that we were having too much fun making fun of ourselves.

2125 5th Street. Photo: John Storey
2125 5th Street. Photo: John Storey

The second sign that something quirky be here is the “Valkyries do Samba” sign. It is a remnant from a towering Brunhilda float in a 1990s San Francisco Carnavale parade in which Wagner was played to a samba beat.

2125 5th Street. Photo: John Storey
2125 5th Street. Photo: John Storey
2125 5th Street. Photo: John Storey
2125 5th Street. Photo: John Storey

Two pieces of sculpture in the front yard of this once-industrial now-transitional west Berkeley house tell us a little more about the quirky that be here. A sculptor lives here.

Stan Huncilman in studio at 2125 5th Street. Photo: John Storey
Stan Huncilman in studio at 2125 5th Street. Photo: John Storey

Stan Huncilman is the sculptor in question. He is shown above demonstrating the motorized shopping cart in which he claims to have set the world land speed record for a motorized shopping cart on the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, a claim which I have no reason to doubt. He got his MFA in sculpture from the San Francisco Art Institute, and has worked at his craft for 40 years. Like many, if not most, if not all, sculptors, he has a day job, using his metal fabrication skills to make models for testing and litigation.


His sculpture is abstract, and doesn’t display the prankster mind that was behind the front yard signs, but instead an artist who knows how to work metal and concrete and colors. The sculpture in the front yard is the tip of iceberg. It fills his house:

2125 5th Street. Photo: John Storey
2125 5th Street. Photo: John Storey
2125 5th Street. Photo: John Storey
2125 5th Street. Photo: John Storey
2125 5th Street. Photo: John Storey
2125 5th Street. Photo: John Storey
2125 5th Street. Photo: John Storey
2125 5th Street. Photo: John Storey

 

In his kitchen:

2125 5th Street. Photo: John Storey
2125 5th Street. Photo: John Storey
2125 5th Street. Photo: John Storey
2125 5th Street. Photo: John Storey
2125 5th Street. Photo: John Storey
2125 5th Street. Photo: John Storey
2125 5th Street. Photo: John Storey
2125 5th Street. Photo: John Storey

And in his backyard:

2125 5th Street. Photo: John Storey
2125 5th Street. Photo: John Storey
2125 5th Street. Photo: John Storey
2125 5th Street. Photo: John Storey
2125 5th Street. Photo: John Storey
2125 5th Street. Photo: John Storey

At the risk of showing how a gifted sculptor does his magic, here is a shot of his studio white board, where he plans his pieces:

2125 5th Street. Photo: John Storey
2125 5th Street. Photo: John Storey

Huncilman’s sculpture is clean, simple, bright, and a pleasure. It makes a laconic personality and prankster’s mind, evidenced by his Bullfighting Academy and Valkyries doing Samba.


Tom 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 8,600 photographs of quirky objects around town as well as posts where the 30-year resident muses on what it all means. 

For a fuller treatment of Stan Huncilman’s home and sculpture, see Dalzell’s Quirky Berkeley post.