Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Quirky Berkeley by Tom Dalzell

Quirky Berkeley by Tom Dalzell is a short book to read. I loved reading every single page of this book. It's a work of nonfiction and deals with local history in Berkeley, California... More specifically it deals with the very quirky artwork found in the yards of those who reside in Berkeley, California... And let me tell you that the 'quirky artwork' isn't your run of the mill quirky stuff you might expect to find in your average neighborhood yard. No Way! This is full frontal UNIQUE and very QUIRKY artwork that one would come to expect from only those living in Berkeley, California.

I loved reading every little detail about each quirky Berkeley piece of artwork. It was the right amount of information without being overwhelming. The forward and introduction of this little book provided loads of information as well. 

My husband and I live about 45 minutes (sometimes longer depending on traffic) from Berkeley, California. Last Sunday afternoon, we decided to find four of the 'Quirky Berkeley' sites mentioned in Tom Dalzell's book in the hills of North Berkeley. And oh, what fun we had visiting the various places! We definitely look forward to viewing more of the quirky artwork on another visit to Berkeley in the future.

Site #1 Buldan Seka's Giant Ceramic Freaks - Buldan Seka is a ceramic artist originally from Macedonia, but she now resides in Berkeley California. Her front yard is filled with many of her giant sized ceramic figures. See pictures I took below of the ceramic figures.

Site #2 Bruce Dodd's Giant Orange - The Giant Orange is just down the street from the Giant Ceramic Freaks. My understanding is that the Giant Orange was once an orange stand that sold cold orange juice back in the day. I didn't take a photo of this structure as it was located down a long driveway to several residential homes. We could see the Giant Orange from the public sidewalk, but we didn't want to venture down a private driveway for a closer look/photo opportunity.

Site #3 Fredric Fierstein's Buddhist Shrine - My understanding from reading Quirky Berkeley, is that Fredric Fierstein is an electrical contractor with an interest in Asian cultural traditions. We loved seeing the Buddhist shrine in Fredric Fierstein's front yard. It is so amazing!  

Site #4 Mark Olivier's Beach Trash Art - Found beach trash was used to make several (and I mean several) beach trash art that sit in Mark Olivier's front yard or hung from the home's exterior. It's almost a bit too much to take in, but quite fantastical to see.

Below is a short YouTube clip of a couple of the 'Quirky Berkeley' places we'd still like to visit.

Below is a summary for Quirky Berkeley by Tom Dalzell from Amazon:
When it comes to landscaping, why stop at plastic flamingos? Based on Tom Dalzell's blog of the same name, Quirky Berkeley pays tribute to the boldly imaginative artwork on display in front of, on top of, and engulfing residents' houses all over the city. With full-color photographs and a pithy wit, Dalzell shares his discoveries of the unexpected: the giant orange on Spruce Street, a house shaped like a fish, bowling balls as lawn art, enormous dachshund sculptures, and the birdhouse pyramid on Sacramento, to name just a few of the oddities. Created, installed, and maintained at great expense-not just of money, but of time and creative energy-these are all free to view, all gifts to the street. Included in every write-up are profiles of the artists, whom Dalzell is careful to portray not as stereotypical "Berzerkeleyites" but as individuals who have found their true north of exuberant self-expression. While the very uniqueness of each of these sites invites us to focus on the individual creators, the book also considers what the abundance of such art says about a community and its values. This love letter to idiosyncrasy champions the revolutionary idea that we can build a vibrant community not by demanding conformity but by celebrating difference.
I am giving Quirky Berkeley by Tom Dalzell a rating of 5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!


  1. What a great adventure, both the reading and your self-created tour. My husband and I like finding such art in Berkeley too. Whenever we go we want to move to Berkeley and live there!

    1. Berkeley is definitely a place I am drawn to for sure as well. I love the UC Berkeley campus - There's even a campus artwalk there as well that is very cool. I've attended the Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley annually since its inception in 2015. Plus, all the Little Free Libraries, bookstores, museums, parks, etc.

      My husband and I walked three of approximately 200 secret stairs/pathways in the Berkeley Hills last weekend and they were awesome to tour... We want to find more of them another weekend as well. There is so much to see and do in the Bay Area!

  2. What fun! Quirky indeed. Cheers from Carole's Chatter

    1. Fun indeed!! Thank you for stopping by and leaving me a comment.

  3. That sounds like one fun day! Now I totally need to check out this book for sure!

    1. It was such a fun day! I look forward to finding more of the artwork in Berkeley in the future.