Yarnbombing And The Real Purpose of Bike Racks : Awaken Cafe

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 Protest -Yarnbombing Occupy Oakland

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 – The Oakland Museum Part 3

” Yarnbombing ! Yarnbombing ! ” someone was yelling on the street I didn’t pay to much attention to this because someone in my head is always yelling YARNBOMBING!

We were installing our yarnbombing in the Jensen Installation at the Oakland Museum. The Jensen Installation is an array of brilliant white metal chairs and tables that can be arranged into groups or hung up on a huge floor to ceiling black board by the people who come through the Oakland Museum . You can write on the black board too , so the whole thing is fun to play with and interact with and I wanted to interact with it by yarnbombing it. We had laboriously knit 2 slipcovers for 2 chairs , a red one and a blue one . The blue one was knit in 3 strips by three knitters. I had like the idea of the knitting being in primary colors since the chairs were icy white.

Slipcovers are a ton of knitting > I had always wanted to make knitted slip covers but was too much knitting to get through . But I was able to do it because I had promised I would and made it a deadline . { This is my secret to producing extreme knitting }

So there we were sewing these big slip covers on at last And this yarnbombing shouting started up.

In walks a tall handsome man with his slightly shorter handsome young son. He had several strings of shell around his neck. This was Monte – a Miwak activist Native American who works for the city in the Public Works Department removing graffiti . And he knew every yarnbomb that I had up in the city of Oakland and it’s exact location and condition.

” Oh yes ! ” he said . ” We’ve had a lot of conversations about wether we should leave that yarnbombingup or not. But we’re lazy guys so if no one complains we just leave it up ! ”

I was amazed . Some how I had thought that the police were in charge of yarnbombing violations  –  but no  – it is the public works department . And I was really seen as a graffiti artist by the people in charge of graffiti . I had always sort of felt like I was pretending to be a graffiti artist but apparently I had been one all along  . This was exciting news .

” Well now that I’ve met you I’ll make sure everyone leaves your yarnbombing up . ” said Monte. ”  I’ll tell them it’s art ! ‘

I am happy to have those on power on my side.

a link from another blog about these chairs here

Yarnbombing The Oakland Museum Part 2

This installation started when I presented the idea of yarnbombing the inside of the Oakland  Museum to The Oakland Standard.

No really –  the idea started last year when The Russian and I were yarnbombing  the museums of California. We thought it would be interesting to put yarnbombing  on the street and in parking lots around museums  . People are there to see art anyway so we thought it would be a pleasurable sensation to see knitted art on the way in and out of the museum.

I always think it is  good to see knitted art any where , any time . The color and softness is relaxing and centering.

So during this period of yarnbombing museums I had gone over to The Oakland Museum of California and had measured  the various poles on Oak street at the entrance . I had gone in to the museum and had looked over the collection to find pieces that I wanted to reference in the yarnbombing.

As I go along making art I naturally want to make bigger and more ambitious installations. After I had yarnbombed several museums I wanted to yarnbomb the inside of a museum. Actually my idea was to yarnbomb the inside and the outside of a museum , to use the street as a gallery for many international yarnbombers and in addition to make a yarnbomb collaboratively with a bunch of knitters to go in the museum . So my idea had three parts.  This was the idea I presented to The Oakland Standard.

The day I gave my presentation I walked all around the museum and quickly decided to do the bannisters going into the museum, the bannisters going down into the museum , the bannisters going into the garden , 2 chairs , 2 benches and a tree .  I wanted the installation to be so big that you couldn’t dismiss it as just cute .

.These pictures are of the 8 bannisters going down into the garden.

The 8 bannisters are all this simple rectangular shape. I decided to knit them all in the same pattern of colors so that all 8 would connect as one piece. They look like they are walking – striding up the stairs of the garden.

The gardens at The Oakland Museum are free and  are a great place to feel cool and peaceful . I’ve noticed that children in the garden play vigorously with the knitting and it is always sliding down the legs of the bannisters . This looks pretty good I think –  although I do tidy them.

This whole yarnbombing installation is meant to be touched and everyone touches and rubs the knitting as they go by. I don ‘t know if they even notice that they are doing it but even if they don’t notice –  they are enjoying it.

We are all pretty lost in the little details of our lives . Art is always trying to surprise us into coming alive for a moment . Some artists use a shock in their art to disturb people awake. I’m taking objects that are very boring and unseen and making them jump out with bright knitting. Art is a great way to play.

Fun pictures of the installation at The Oakland Standard here

Yarnbombing Oakland -Inside and Out

So I have a commission to yarnbomb The Oakland Museum of California in mid Oct . I will be doing this through The Oakland Standard . More about them here . I will be yarnbombing the 4 bannisters in the front of the building out on the street , the 3 bannisters going down into the building ,  bannisters going down into the garden , 2 benches and 2 chairs that are part of  the architectural Jensen installation. And maybe a tree.  All handspun yarn .

The reason that this installation is so extreme is this .  I came up with it and I wanted it to be really big – something that would be big enough that it wouldn’t make me think about knitting and yarnbombing in a whole new way . Too big to be just ‘cute ‘

So now I go around begging my friends to help me knit .  I now have  Brenda Loreman , The Russian , Hargus Rose , The Fibrarian , and Anna Wong all knitting . And I spin all the time . And watch ” Star Trek Next Generation .”

It’s interesting to me how I get really excited and then really doubtful ,alternating . We tend to swerve away from what we really want .

This yarnbombing installation will go up in mid Oct 2011 and will be up for a month . I am so impressed with The Oakland Museum of California -this could be a first -yarnbombing the building of a museum inside and out .

International Yarnbombing Show On The Streets of Oakland , Ca.

At the same time this installation is up I want to put up a yarnbombing street art show using the streets of Oakland as a gallery . I am asking for yarnbombs from all over the world , signed by their artists with names and countries and I will sew them up on street poles , bike racks , parking meters , lamp posts and fences . I need tags that are 7.5 inches around { stretches measurement so they don’t slide down } and 4 to 8 ft long . I want people to get to see the amazing things you can do with knitting and crocheting f , so I’m hoping for ruffles , flowers , fairisle , cables , buttons , bobbles , protrusions  and lots of color .

I need yarnbombs to start coming around Oct 10 so I can start installing . I will take pictures and post them and documant the whole deal

Turning a city into a gallery of knitted street art at the same time a museum has an installation- I like what this says about art , knitting , street art , out new global internet life , freedom and doing what you want .

You may reach me at http://www.streetcolorart.gmail.com  and I will give you a mailing address. { Don’t want to tell everyone who I truly am ! }

i just got a message on Facebook from Dagmar Reichardt that she will help me reach knitters in Germany and Japan. Oh my.