Endless Canvas : Special Delivery Bay Area 2012
Video: Mapache Films
Audio: Todd Sykes
Description by Babak:
On Saturday night, September 8, 2012, I and thousands of others witnessed the concrete and steel ruin that is Carbon Warehouse in the old Flint Ink building at 1350 Fourth Street, Berkeley return to technicolor life as a free, underground art gallery.
For hours, we gawked at the fabulous graffiti that covered close to every inch of the building, with music, beer and wine, and an electric atmosphere that should make world art hubs like London, Berlin and Venice blush.
The floor, the walls, the ceiling and sundry nooks and crannies were painted with explosive colors, designs and styles. Many works displayed wit, wildness and undeniable artistry. We gazed upwards to espy the livid ceiling of this crazy, cement Sistine, then we gazed down to follow the lushly sprays of color at our feet. Meanwhile, the building and its inhabitants trembled as the freight trains--many adorned by the same art sheltered now inside the building--roared by below.
This once-abandoned trilevel factory seemed happy to be hosting thousands of equally colorful guests busy drinking in the art in 3D, dancing, flirting, posing, snap-shooting and juggling, all self-regulated, well-behaved and paying close attention to what they saw.
From where I stand, the project as a whole suggests a rare mindfulness and was executed expertly and with foresight. The City of Berkeley and the police seems to have played a welcome role in facilitating this art event by keeping a very low profile and just letting folks do their stuff.
Neither was this an LA-style, Eli Broadish splash for the rich and pretentious, or some rarified and ultimately impotent extravaganza. This was a grassroots, super-collaborative public tryst between artists and their audience, a rare bird in a cynical, corporate art world that should be nurtured.
Sadly, after the event, a tiny handful of uninspired, vandalous fools are reported to have tagged a few buildings in West Berkeley, leaving an unfortunate hair in the mouth of a community that had so enjoyed an otherwise delicious art feast.
Yet, none were among the artists that awed us that night. And none have the right to distract us from thanking everyone that helped artwork blossom before our eyes in this enjoyable, provocative way.
Because, on that night, Berkeley appeared talented, fearless and exciting, and in a humble, inclusive way, a bastion of public art.