Category Archives: Artytopia

The art-beat of Quirkutopia is strong. The art festoons the streets, cars, brains and bookstores of Quirkutopia. There are painters, writers, sculptors, musicians, dancers, filmmakers, poets, kinetic installers, muralists, and more. And of course – painters who drum, carvers who paint, mechanics who sculpt, writers that dance, dancers that weld, drummers that paint, and poets who film.

Let us not overlook the crafters – the hills are alive with hand-sculpted houses, felters and seamstresses and knitters, potters and glassmakers and metalshapers.

Life is beautiful and provocative in Quirkutopia. It is thoughtful and full of fun folly. Living and visiting here is to be immersed in a creative river. Come take a dip!

Wall-eyed in Barcelona

This jaunty senorita graced an ancient door in an alleyway near our apartment in the L’Eixample district (pronounced “eshampla”) Photo by Heather Granahan

This jaunty senorita graced an ancient door in an alleyway near our apartment in the L’Eixample district (pronounced “eshampla”) Photo by Heather Granahan

Recently we ventured out of the local quirkzone and got an apartment in a Spanish city that made us feel so at home, we nearly emigrated: Barcelona. Barc is the heart of Catalunya (Catalonia),an autonomous community of Spain – officially a nationality and one famous for independent spirit. Catalunya holds the four provinces of Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. As I write, Catalunya is roaring for financial independence from the rest of Spain. (Now, can’t we do that here in ‘topia?) Kind of made up of a lot of villages moshed together, Barc is constructed of art and stone, beaches and protests, cava (Spanish champagne, or what I fondly call Girl Beer) and cathedrals, Gaudi and gambas (grilled shrimp), Dali and dallying.

Arteries of scooters and motos pulse by metal café tables full of Manchego cheese-nibbling, Estrella beer-sipping locals.  We’ll share the trove as we dig through it.  Your first taste: a few treasures from the walls. And doors.

The bigger context. While doors are often embellished, walls rarely are. Photo by Heather Granahan

The bigger context. While doors are often embellished, walls rarely are. Photo by Heather Granahan

When they DO paint a wall, they don’t mess around. This squat in L’Exaimple is alive with art very reminiscent of the ofen-imitated animator Blu’s work. See the original: www.blublu.org . Photo by Heather Granahan

When they DO paint a wall, they don’t mess around. This squat in L’Exaimple is alive with art very reminiscent of the often-imitated animator Blu’s work. See the original: http://www.blublu.org .                            Photo by Heather Granahan

Door to her soul; deep in the Barrio Gotico neighborhood this noia (girl, in Catalan, the language of Barcelona) peers from a doorway. She’s in Barcelona's Placa de George Orwell, the Brit who wrote Homage to Catalonia. It’s also known as La Plaça Tripi – the acid “trippy”square – referring to its bohemian reputation. Photo by Heather Granahan

Door to her soul; deep in the Barrio Gotico neighborhood this noia (girl, in Catalan, the language of Barcelona) peers from a doorway. She’s in Barcelona’s Placa de George Orwell, the Brit who wrote ‘Homage to Catalonia’. It’s also known as La Plaça Tripi – the acid “trippy”square – referring to its bohemian reputation. Photo by Heather Granahan

Was this an ancient remodel nightmare (“My liege, you said not which window thou preferred – I ordered one of each!”) – or a recycled material project gone wild? A window sales center? In the middle of a maze of narrow mediaeval streets is this tower of mixed windows, flanking the Cathedral of Santa Eulalia. The church is active and the plaza full of book and craft fairs, children’s theater and the usual ring of café tables. Photo by Heather Granahan

Was this an ancient remodel nightmare (“My liege, you said not which window thou preferred – I ordered one of each!”) – or a recycled material project gone wild? A window sales center? In the middle of a maze of narrow medieval streets is this tower of mixed windows, flanking the active plaza around the Cathedral of Santa Eulalia . Photo by Heather Granahan

Bob is everywhere! A street Picasso indeed. A bus stop in L’Eixample. Photo by Heather Granahan

Bob is everywhere! A street Picasso indeed. A bus stop in L’Eixample. Photo by Heather Granahan

A wall that invites you to sit on it. Gaudi built Park Guell for Barc in 1900-14 and made good use of local tiles. The wall snakes around a bluff that looks out over the city of ancient, modern, and stuff like Gaudi’s; 100 yrs old and still fresh. Photo by Heather Granahan

A wall that invites you to sit on it. Gaudi built Park Guell for Barc in 1900-14 and made good use of local tiles.  Photo by Heather Granahan

Photo by Heather Granahan

The wall snakes around a bluff that looks out over the city of ancient, modern, and stuff like Gaudi’s; 100 yrs old and still fresh.                     Photo by Heather Granahan

Pretty...mysterious.A lovely old frieze, off by a lonely back door behind a cathedral. Photo by Heather Granahan

Pretty…mysterious. And no, I don’t want to know, I’d rather imagine a meaning. A lovely old frieze, off by a lonely back door behind a cathedral. Photo by Heather Granahan

On the wall near Universitat, honoring the ever-alive spirit of independence in Barcelona. Photo by Heather Granahan

Made us miss the Mission in San Francisco: On the wall near Universitat, honoring the ever-alive spirit of independence in Barcelona. Photo by Heather Granahan

Were the ancient Catalonians really tall? Are doors the windows to a house’s soul? This visitor reaches for the knob to no avail. Senorita, there’s a small door right in front of you.    Photo by Heather Granahan

Were the ancient Catalonians really tall? Are doors the windows to a house’s soul? This visitor reaches for the knob to no avail. Senorita, there’s a small door right in front of you. Photo by Heather Granahan

One of Dali's egg-doors to his garden patio,,we"ll be out back having some cava. Back with you in a while. Photo by Heather Granahan

One of Dali’s egg-doors to his garden patio,,we”ll be out back having some cava. Back with you in a while. Photo by Heather Granahan

 

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Art That Just Gets Butter and Butter

Self portrait of the artist. Photo Courtesy Fred Stasek

What happens when you combine a fine artist with a fine woodworker and steep him in locations like Hawaii, Italy, Fiji, Vermont, Tallahassee and Fanning Island during his formative years? If you are very fortunate, you get Berkeley-born Fred Stasek, who works in an old converted creamery in the rolling ranch-studded hills of Western Quirkutopia.

Fred is a painter, woodworker, writer and musician who works in and on many mediums, including luminously painted heavy silk which he fashions into multi-paneled Room Screens that glow when back-lit. Inspired by years of fine custom woodwork, Fred crafts elegant frames of red oak, maple and polar for these screens that stand alone as works of art themselves. Check out his gallery at www.fstasek.com – there may even be one available. The Screens are some real play for the eyes, even on your computer screen.

One of Fred Stasek’s glowing silk Room Screen paintings. You know you want one. We know we do! Photo courtesy Fred Stasek

Like many true Quirks, Fred Stasek fosters several creative interests. His pursuits in the musical realm have loaned his work a rhythm and play of composition and color.

Mr. Stasek has long had a way with watercolor. An early small work by Fred Stasek, personalized birthday card, 5”x7”, mid 90’s. Photo by Heather Granahan

Early F. Stasek watercolor, 1987
Courtesy Heather Granahan

For a Dancer, 5”x7” small work by Fred Stasek, mid 90’s. Photo by Heather Granahan

 The Bodega artist enclave was founded decades ago as The Old Creamery decades ago by several well-known artists and print-makers.

The Old Creamery in its early life; 1969, Bodega, California.

Years ago, many small towns sported their own creameries – this one was a co-operative that made butter and cream with the surrounding ranchs’ milk. Current Old Bodega Creamery output is nourishing and vital art.

Butter yet: a very old butter wrapper from the original co-operative creamery in Bodega, CA. Label courtesy Heather Granahan

Greetings From Quirkutopia!

Join us as we bump open the inside door to some corners of Northern California for you with our hips – our hands are full of wine and plates of artisan foods and tickets to cool events.

You already know we are a hotbed of alternative thinking and doing – ok, and growing.  Never mind what you know already! Come on in. Have a glass. Let some worldly locals share their gardens, workshops, restaurants and favorite hangouts. Follow us farm-to-fork and winery-to-coast.

Meet some of our favorite redwood trees, wildcrafted edibles and weird lovable neighbors. Gaze at our favorite ocean  and vineyard views and celebrate with us something silly or profound at one of our local fairs or festivals. See what folks have been creating, re-purposing and making. Get away on a few adventures with us here in Quirkutopia and dig a little deeper in the NorCal Bay Area and beyond.