Yarnbombing And The Real Purpose of Bike Racks : Awaken Cafe

22 Feb

I went off to yarnbomb Awaken Cafe in Oakland .  It was a celebration for their Opening Day. This was a request yarnbombing . The owner Cort Dunlap , saw my bike racks at Lake Merritt and  found me on Facebook . I get requests for yarnbombing pretty often and they can be a little complicated . For instance I might get lost trying to find the place . Or the energy of the site might be very unfamiliar and I find it harder to ground myself..

I drove around and around and around and finally there it was – Awaken Cafe ! I went in and saw that it was a surprisingly big , open, elegant space . I met Cort who is full of joy and enthusiasm and we went out and looked at the 2 racks . A kind  barrista came outside and moved her bike off one rack and I started sewing .

Yarnbombing out on a big city street in the middle of the day can be stressful . I was a little uncomfortable. I felt my breathing. I looked around for things to enjoy and admired the look of the swooping buses. I appreciated the handspun wool in my knitting.

A woman came up to the bike rack with her bike and started to lock up her bike

.” I’m sorry would you mind using one of the other racks? ” I said “There are some over there .  Awaken cafe asked me to put up this yarnbombing for their opening . “

Her face got cold and still .  She glared at me. I was very surprised . I often ask riders to leave a rack free when I’m putting up and every one has always been very genial. She was out raged

A man friend of her came rushing  over .

” This is not what these are for ! ” He yelled at me . ” You are impeding our access ! “

I was so shocked by this idea that my mind left the conversation and I started thinking deeply. Bike racks are only for bikes and not for making art with ? I couldn’t grasp this . I stared into space thoughtfully as he continued to berate me. Isn’t every thing  , every object a possible material for playing with , for making art. Isn’t the whole world something wonderful to play with in any way possible ? Are bike racks forbidden art  objects ?

Help appeared suddenly. “This is art ! ‘ A woman said strongly  ” This is an art co op ! ‘

It is ? I was getting very confused .”No , it’s just me . ‘ I said .

“Oh you young people . ” The woman shook her finger at the angry bike people  .” You don’t understand art ! “

‘ The man started yelling at my defender. I stood up and moved aside  while the riders huffily locked up their bikes and stomped off .  I looked down at their bikes and for one delicious, vengeful, moment thought of yarnbombing them . Put I knew they would just cut it all up so I refrained.

A big man in full gangsta rap clothing came walking by . He looked down at the yarnbombing and a big smile came over his face . He nodded at me approvingly .

“That’s cool ! ” he said .

Yarnbombing And Heart Felts – Part 2

14 Feb

We got in the car and drove to our first secret yarnbombing location . Still raining.

‘Do I have to get out of the car and stand over you with an umbrella ? ”  my sweetheart said resignedly .

‘Oh no ”  I said ‘”Just wait  , it’s very quick to wire a felt heart to a fence “

I got out and squished along the fence looking for the perfect spot  . Everything has a perfect place , vases of flowers , tables in resturants , a spot of red in a painting , a heart on a fence . You can fell it in your body when something balances.

I found the perfect spot on the fence and started wiring . I got the heart barely sewn on when a huge truck pulled right up to the gate and a man got out and glared at me  . I walked briskly over to our car and got in.

‘Can you drive away  now please? ” I whispered to my sweetie .

” No , he’s blocked our car ” he said

We all sat and looked at each other and then he opened the fence , drove through it  and let out his 2 big dogs .

‘Let’s go now and come back later ‘ I said and we quickly drove off.

We drove to our second fence and I got out and stood at the fence . A security guard came and stood at the other side of the fence. I felt like such a vandal ! I went across the street and found a different fence and put up this felt heart. My sweetie and I both agreed that the red heart was a little lost against the red fence but I think the artists in the building will like having  the art

So off we went to fence 3. I picked this fence because a dear friend works at this secret place and I hope he notices .

By now the sun had come out . I was starting to lose my grip . I can never tell if people are going to come and yell at me or think this is the best thing ever. I sewed up my heart. A bunch of kids wandered by. Oh no ! Kids always notice what I’m doing unlike the adults in cars and on phones.

” Person ! Person ! What are you doing ?

I needed a little rest. And lunch . Can’t people tell if I’m a boy or a girl ?  We went home . I needed to ready myself for Heart Fence Supreme…..here I am again here

Yarnbombing And Heart Felts , Berkeley Part 1

13 Feb

When I woke up this morning it was dark and raining. Oh no . I don’t have many rules for my yarnbombing being a lawless yarnbomber  but I have always followed one law. I don’t yarnbomb in the rain . But I had 8 felt hearts to put up by tomorrow – Valentine’s Day .

I lay in bed , my mind all wired up with questions. Where should I put the hearts? Would I be freezing cold ? Would security guards get me ? Would people swipe my hearts as fast as I could put them up ? Would my car start ? Why do I always think up these insane schemes ?’

This is just for fun ‘ I told myself . That didn’t work .

“This is just street art ‘ Still very anxious.

‘Put the hearts in easy favorite places ‘ That was kind of relieving .

My sweetie came in the bedroom and got in bed with his coffee.

‘ I’m worried about how much you have to do today and I want to offer my help .’ he said .

‘Will you drive me all over Berkeley while I yarnbomb ? ‘ I asked .

‘ I knew you were going to say that . ‘ he said .

I had already put up 3 hearts last Friday . These are the hearts in these pictures we are looking at . I wanted to do a trial run to see if the hearts would be left up or taken down . My plan was to put them all up on chain link fences. Most chain link fences are private property . In the past I had only persecuted city poles and bike racks with my yarnbombing – not private property . This series was a little pushier.

When I yarnbomb I want to be able to take the work down but I want it to be sufficiently annoying to take down that every thing won’t get swiped. Not that many people would want a strip of knitting but more people might want a heart. I had started by using fishing line but had switched to wire .I really liked how wire looked with the felt so that was a sign that it was the right way to go .

I packed up my wirecutters and pliers , my spool of 24 gauge wire , my tapestry needle , my camera and it’s little felt case and my heavy roll of felt hearts . Little did I know the dogs , security guards and meter maid that waited in my future . { To be continued }

A good picture of a heart on A blog here - What I Saw in Berkeley Today

Yarnbombing and Valentine’s Day – Being Encouraged

11 Feb

I was sewing this big felt heart onto my local fence when Tanner showed up . He seems to drop from the sky when ever I am doing  street art in our neighborhood.  I didn’t recognize him at first because his yellow hair is shorter and his teenage face is in the process of moving from prettiness to strength.

“I like what your doing here ” he said looking at my street heart . ” And I liked the snow flakes too. I took a lot of pictures of street art when I was traveling . I’ll show them to you later . ‘

And off he went .

The very first time I ever yarnbombed , a very little tiny knitted sock on a pole -  young Tanner came out in bare feet to tell me he like what I was doing. I love a teenager being out in the world encouraging artists to make street art . Right away as it’s in progress .  A little encouragement , it can be so little , can make the difference to so many brave , big  , ridiculous  , wavering art experiments .

I also appreciate the people who yell out their cars -

‘ Thank You  !” to me as I am sewing up .

And to the people on Facebook who tell me ” Get your hearts out there ! “

So this is a new series of street art called ‘Street Hearts ” and it is 15 big felt hearts that I am putting up all over Berkeley to celebrate Valentines Day. See if you can find them .  And go encourage somebody .

yourself too. You are so great . I like what you are doing.

Yarnbombing – How to Take down a Yarnbomb

22 Jan

I never take a yarnbomb down unless I have to. And yes – I remember having to take that yarnbomb down in front of the Capitol building as the policeman stood next to me muttering ” Vandalism . Vandalism ! “

It was time to take down The Oakland Museum of California  yarnbombing installation. I had been not thinking about this with a lot of concentration. It took more than 2 weeks to get all the pieces up with many knitters sewing. The installation had been up for 10 weeks with a 4 week extension. It could not be put off.

And I felt guilty about the rain . When we put up the installation I had said a prayer for it to not rain until we took the knitting down. And then it didn’t rain .

I decided to make a little film first . I turned on the camera. I walked back and forth filming the yarnbomb. It sat there . It was the boringest film I ever saw. Must think more about film making I started trying to take down the first bannister . It had felted some from being outside in the wind. The stitches were beautifully done , very tight and small.  My sewing is crooked and sloppy. I tried cutting them but that cut the knitting. I tried pulling it apart with my fingers. My fingers started to hurt. I thought of slaves picking cotton.

There had do be some way to go faster . I thought of spending the next 7 days standing there pulling out every little stitch.. It came to me to get out my tapestry needle and pull out each stitch with that . That worked pretty well. I tried to make each movement of my hand graceful and easy . Oh ! That worked . Actually it was fun. OK .

Then Betsy Graham showed up . Thank You ! I showed her how to pull straight down with the needle . We got deyarnbombing  really fast . She told me about how Steve Jobs didn’t bathe.

We got the whole installation down . It was very odd to see something beautiful and unusual go back to being ordinary . The opposite effect of yarnbombing. I miss this art installation. It seems sad that it is all gone . On the other hand I have lots of knitting now to do something big and high risk. So much of art is the pleasure of thinking and imagining about all the great things you might do.

This now is how to take down a yarnbomb , use a tapestry needle and make beautiful relaxed gestures out of each movement.

A  yarnbombing blog post in a mysterious foreign language here

Yarnbombing And Protest -Yarnbombing Occupy Oakland

8 Jan

We were putting up yarnbombs around The Oakland Museum last Oct and I thought it would be interesting to go over to Frank Ogawa park and yarnbomb Occupy Oakland. I wasn’t sure what the protests were protesting at that point but I was sure a yarnbomb would be a good addition .

It was a pretty long walk from The Oakland Museum to Occupy Oakland . The streets were dry looking and I saw many street poles that would have looked a lot better covered in wool . I was in my Streetcolor persona and felt like I could go anywhere and do what ever I wanted .

I was surprised by Frank Ogawa square , surprised in every way . The square itself was beautiful – edged with tall leafy trees , the iron lamp posts were beautifully shaped , the whole space was very balanced . It smelled awful , there was wet straw spread on the ground and many distinct neighborhoods of tent and booths set all around . People were definitely protesting , every one was protesting something different .  Some people were protesting big banks , some were protesting against homosexuals , one man was protesting the lack of a keg of beer . I wasn’t very attracted to the energy but I still wanted to yarnbomb.

I walked all around the square twice trying to get attracted to something . Finally I found a stairway I liked and started sewing up a piece . Soon I realized that I had picked the neighborhood where men were standing and smoking pot and yelling at woman . I ignored this and kept sewing . I was protesting too I realized . I was protesting the ugliness and lack of art .  And beauty.

When I was done Batman appeared . I complimented his outfit. A man stopped and asked me about my yarnbomb .

“I’m just wanting to make the world more beautiful and warm ” I said .

‘It’s pretty ‘ he said kindly.

I would dearly love politics and protests to make the world better . The struggle for fairness will have to go on forever . It’s so hard to keep the big meaning in mind – we all want to have a good happy life .

So don’t worry so much about dessert .

I do believe this one thing for sure   – making art is always a good thing . Art is appropriate for every occasion.

A very nice interview in Oakland magazine here

Yarnbombing And Confession -The Cerrito Theater

28 Dec

I was putting up this yarnbombing installation at The Cerrito Theater when 2 woman stopped and asked if they could take my picture . Immediately my teeth got tense . I don’t like to have my picture taken when I’m yarnbombing .  However – recently I was on live TV so it seemed silly to tell them – no , you can’t take my picture . In the past I have always said  ” You can take my picture if it’s just for you and you don’t publish it “

This time I gritted my teeth and just said “Yes .

The next day the picture was up on the internet .

This is not what I’m trying to do .

We are so focused on what people look like  that -  we can’t get fed .

What I’m trying to do is get deeper where the rest and energy is , to the ideas of yarnbombing , that the world is a theater to make stage sets and have short , unexpected , thrilling performances.

I feel like I’m performing when I’m out on the street sewing knitting onto everything . People like to talk to me and some people really like to talk to me . I’m a good listener , I listen to every word and unfortunately memorize it . My partner J tells me to stop doing this but I  don’t know how.

So I was sewing this pole up and a man stopped and told me a long story about how he was turned out of the house by his father  when he was 10 and lived for 2 months naked in the caves of the Phillippines.

“That’s a good story ” I said .

“Is it ? ” he seemed surprised .

I have had people talk to me for 45 minutes and tell me their whole life stories. I liked a story that a woman told me about saving and raising a raven . I don’t know exactly why people do this , I guess they are happy to find someone who is standing still .

I love going to The Cerrito Theater , you can sit on a couch and eat hamburgers and salad and brownies as you watch your movie. I grew up going out to the movies and stopped as an adult because I could watch so many at home . But we all miss the festive feeling of being in a theater and if there are hamburgers I want to go for sure .

With yarnbombing I can mark and decorate the places in my life that make my life fun. There is an article in the El Cerrito Patch here.

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