Two smart scientists live at the northeast corner of Scenic and Cedar. Dan Werthimer is an astrophysicist who conducts research for several SETI (Search for Extra-Terresetrial Intelligence) programs. Mary Kate Morris is a virologist who has researched HIV since a Peace Corps tour in Africa in the 1980s.
Two great artists live at the northeast corner of Scenic and Cedar. Mary Kate Morris is an auto-didactic artist. Dan Werthimer is good at engineering things. After buying the house in 1984, they were inspired by the garden, and garden art, of Marcia Donahue and began presenting art to the street, sometimes their own and sometimes art of others.
Until early December, this porcelain lady (above) invited the eye up the tiled riser stairs. Mary Kate and Dan thought of her simply as the Beautiful Lady. In early December she went missing. They hope that the prankster who borrowed her returns her.
Two small-people pieces of art stand on the other side of the steps.
At the top of the stairs is a typically frantic Mark Bulwinkle steel sculpture (below).
The centerpiece of the Scenic Street garden is an elephant. It was the senior sculpture project of a friend’s daughter, Roxanne Urry, at Sonoma State:
Other pieces on the Scenic side show the effects of weather:
The side of the house is painted with bright jungle animals and more-or-less concentric circles over, and on, the garage doors. The animals were painted for their son, then three. The circles were inspired by the art of Friedensreich Hundertwasser.
On the Cedar Street side there is an ominous shark fin by David Turner, and a rusted steel sculpture they call a “Vinnie.”
Their backyard is small, and planted with exotics that evoke a feeling of jungle. A mural greets you at the gate:
Bowling balls line the path back to a seating area:
Among the sculptures in the garden are two more Mark Bulwinkle pieces:
They are “he” and “she” pieces.
Stepping inside the house, things get very real, very quirky, very fast. Greeting you is blrq:
There are more Bulwinkle pieces inside:
Chuck Squier made this painting that wraps around the piano, and celebrates food and music:
Mary Kate’s art, much of which defies categorization, fills the house. Here is a small dose of it:
Yes, that is made with beans.
And yes, that is their underwear.
The street-facing art is a major contribution to quirk. Throw in the back yard, the inside, and the dog, and we are looking at a Very Major contribution to Berkeley’s quirk. Their house is a work in progress, with plans for more lawn art and house art.
Two scientists, and two quirky artists. They make me glad I live in Berkeley.
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.
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