Photo Essay: Street Artists Take Over an Abandoned Factory in Berkeley

by Ekua on January 27, 2013 in California,captured on memory card,street art

I watch my step as I enter, careful not to step in the rubble and debris that have tumbled down from the walls and ceilings of this derelict building over time. The bare sandals I’ve chosen to wear on this hot day in late September are not the best footwear for this kind of exhibit. But never mind my feet for now, the space all around me exudes passion, sadness, poetry. It is beautiful in the grittiest, ugliest way—decay covered by layers of quirky and vivid street art. It’s something of a dream gallery; not bound by expertise or pretense, it’s all heart.

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When I heard that 80 local street artists would be taking over a three-story abandoned factory in Berkeley for a temporary exhibit called Special Delivery, there was never any doubt that I was going to go. It was open to the public on weekends for four weeks in September, and I made it on the very last day.

Someday, the art-loving building director who hosted this exhibit with Endless Canvas will oversee the transformation of this site into an office building. But for four weeks, it was a grungy artistic wonderland open to the public; a living but ephemeral museum of underground culture that will only last in photographs:

Special Delivery street art show in Berkeley, California

Special Delivery street art show in Berkeley, California

Special Delivery street art show in Berkeley, California

Special Delivery street art show in Berkeley, California

Special Delivery street art show in Berkeley, California

Special Delivery street art show in Berkeley, California

Special Delivery street art show in Berkeley, California

Special Delivery street art show in Berkeley, California

Special Delivery street art show in Berkeley, California

Special Delivery street art show in Berkeley, California

Special Delivery street art show in Berkeley, California

Special Delivery street art show in Berkeley, California

Special Delivery street art show in Berkeley, California

Special Delivery street art show in Berkeley, California

Special Delivery street art show in Berkeley, California

Special Delivery street art show in Berkeley, California

Special Delivery street art show in Berkeley, California

Special Delivery street art show in Berkeley, California

Special Delivery street art show in Berkeley, California

Special Delivery street art show in Berkeley, California

Special Delivery street art show in Berkeley, California

Special Delivery street art show in Berkeley, California

Special Delivery street art show in Berkeley, California

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Wil @ Where's Wil January 27, 2013 at 6:42 pm

Wow, some talented artists. Quite an unusual gallery but that’s some amazing work.

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Naomi January 27, 2013 at 11:31 pm

Sick. Love the pieces :)

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Ekua February 2, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Yup, it was pretty cool. Close to your old stomping grounds, if I remember correctly!

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Murissa @TheWanderfullTraveler January 28, 2013 at 1:08 pm

What an amazing space to explore and capture before it closed.

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Andi of My Beautiful Adventures January 28, 2013 at 1:51 pm

Oh wow!!!!!!! What an amazing place to take pics. Love yous!

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Josh January 28, 2013 at 4:40 pm

Ahhhh! One of my favorite pieces of travel writing I’ve read in a while. I wish travel writers would do more pieces on art (like this). So much to learn and think about from this. Keep it up and it keep em coming. Safe travels.

J

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Ekua February 2, 2013 at 2:07 pm

I’m not sure you could officially call this traveling as I only had to cross the SF Bay to get to it. But traveling is state of mind :P Thanks for the compliment! I had this post written for about a week before I put it up here but wasn’t feeling it so I let it sit. On the day I posted it, the right inspiration struck and I completely changed it. Generally, I try to follow the quote I included in my About the Site page “Be still when you have nothing to say. When genuine passion moves you, say what you’ve got and say it hot.”

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Madeline Horn January 28, 2013 at 11:04 pm

Beautiful photos! Love this post.

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Audrey | That Backpacker January 29, 2013 at 2:47 am

Wow! These are so great, I can’t even pick a favourite. I love all the different styles and bright colours!

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Britany January 29, 2013 at 6:17 pm

Such a cool idea! I love the temporary nature of it. Must be hard for the artists to see their work come down eventually but at least people captured it in photographs!

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Dani January 30, 2013 at 2:05 pm

What an awesome project! I wish they would do things like that in more places – there are so many talented street artists out there!

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Ekua February 2, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Yeah, I though this was particularly cool because it was all in one place and the abandoned factory setting gave it a unique vibe. I love the mural alleys of SF’s Mission District but unfortunately they get graffitied on way too much.

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Sonya January 31, 2013 at 11:02 am

Such a captivating photo essay! I would have loved to wander this “grungy artistic wonderland.”

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Michi Munster February 1, 2013 at 2:52 am

The art is absolutely beautiful. I especially love the painting of the tattooed (or lace-covered?) Asian woman with Indian headdress.

Another place I’ll have to go visit when I come home to California. :)

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Ekua February 2, 2013 at 2:14 pm

That was definitely the most stunning piece. Looked like it was painted on an old door or something. I’m not sure what the headdress is supposed to be, if you look closely at the pink blobs they look like monsters. This exhibit no longer open, it was only open for 4 weeks in September.

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Hannah Baldwin February 3, 2013 at 5:27 pm

Great post, Ekua! Your intro to it was so beautifully written I was almost in tears.

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Ekua February 6, 2013 at 8:26 pm

Thanks, Hannah :)

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