How Quirky is Berkeley? The two sisters of Walnut Street

1309 Walnut Street. Photo: John Storey
1309 Walnut St. Photo: John Storey

You have perhaps seen this bench on Walnut Street just south of Live Oak Park, one of three benches on the block. Penny Brogden made the bench, and the five tiles.

Dorothy Klein ink wash paintings. Photo: John Storey
Dorothy Klein ink wash paintings. Photo: John Storey

This is Dorothy Klein’s art, ink wash paintings

Dorothy Klein in Colombia (1968). Photo: Lewis Klein
Dorothy Klein in Colombia (1968). Photo: Lewis Klein

The paintings depict scenes from the years when Klein and her late husband Lewis were in La Macarena, Colombia, studying the behavioral ecology of spider monkeys.

1309 Walnut Street (1989). Photo courtesy Penny Brogden
1309 Walnut St (1989). Photo: courtesy Penny Brogden

Brogden and Klein are sisters. They grew up in this house on Walnut Street. Brogden moved back into the house in 1989 when their parents moved to Napa.


1309 Walnut Street. Photo: John Storey
1309 Walnut Street. Photo: John Storey

She brightened the colors. Her mother found them a little garish. I don’t.

Klein left McKinleyville, which had been home for years, and moved back in at Walnut Street several years ago.

Penny Brogden and Dorothy Klein. Photo: John Storey
Penny Brogden and Dorothy Klein. Photo: John Storey

Two sisters, living in their childhood home. In this photograph they are in their childhood room.

1309 Walnut Street. Photo: John Storey
1309 Walnut St. Photo: John Storey

You can see a childhood drawing inside the red rectangle that was never painted over. What is it like living in their childhood home?  “Lots of ghosts” says Klein.

Brogden works primarily with tiles and photography.


1309 Walnut Street. Photo: John Storey
1309 Walnut St. Photo: John Storey
Penny Brogden at 1309 Walnut Street. Photo: John Storey
Penny Brogden at 1309 Walnut St. Photo: John Storey

She makes cyanotype photographs.  Cyanotype is a photographic printing process that produces a cyan-blue print. The cut-out women were for a window installation at a friend’s costume shop on Mission Street in San Francisco in 1986.

In the 1990s, Brogden starting working with ceramics and tiles. She studied under the late Mary Murchio, a ceramicist and life guide. Brogden’s tiles abound, outside and inside.

1309 Walnut Street. Photo: John Storey
1309 Walnut St. Photo: John Storey
1309 Walnut Street. Photo: John Storey
1309 Walnut St. Photo: John Storey
1309 Walnut Street. Photo: John Storey
1309 Walnut St. Photo: John Storey
1309 Walnut Street. Photo: John Storey
1309 Walnut St. Photo: John Storey
1309 Walnut Street. Photo: John Storey
1309 Walnut St. Photo: John Storey
1309 Walnut Street. Photo: John Storey
1309 Walnut St. Photo: John Storey
1309 Walnut Street. Photo: John Storey
1309 Walnut St. Photo: John Storey

In Humboldt County, Klein made intricate drawings of wildflowers.

1309 Walnut Street. Photo: John Storey
1309 Walnut St. Photo: John Storey

She sold them as posters and gift cards until the Park Service decided that it was a great idea and went into the business.

1309 Walnut Street. Photo: John Storey
1309 Walnut St. Photo: John Storey

Klein works in what was their father’s retreat. She works with sumo ink on rice paper. Ink wash is an East Asian style of brush painting that uses black ink of various concentrations.


Dorothy Klein at 1309 Walnut Street. Photo: John Storey
Dorothy Klein at 1309 Walnut St. Photo: John Storey

Klein holds a painting of her husband on a boat in the Guayabero River, part of the Orinoco River basin in Colombia.

Dorothy Klein at 1309 Walnut Street. Photo: John Storey
Dorothy Klein at 1309 Walnut St. Photo: John Storey

This is a self-portrait with a king vulture.

Dorothy Klein and Penny Brogden at 1309 Walnut Street. Photo: John Storey
Dorothy Klein and Penny Brogden at 1309 Walnut St. Photo: John Storey

These two really take the cake. Two sisters, and two artistic sisters at that. And two artistic sisters living together in their childhood home at that. They are creative Berkeley at its best. We are a better place for them.

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.

A longer version of this post may be found at Quirky Berkeley.


Berkeleyside publishes many articles every day. To see all our stories in chronological order, and read ones you may have missed, check out All the News.