Craft-Based Statements

“I loved (the tea cozy),” said Christina Stork, founder of Article Pract, a knitting shop in Oakland. “I look forward to more craft-based statements.” The Daily Californian, Thursday, June 3, 2010

“Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense”. – Gertrude Stein

For Berkeleyites no longer nimble enough to climb trees, they can still get their protest on through guerilla knitting. I hate to use up “OMFG” as the title of a post so early in the history of this blog, but hearing this story, I wasn’t sure if it was time to move back to NY, or click my ergonomic Earth shoe clad heels in the air.

Back story: Gertrude Stein had been living in Paris for 30 years when a book tour brought her back to California. When she went to find her childhood home in Oakland, the house was no longer standing. In 1937, she published “Everybody’s Autobiography”, where she referred to the experience as “There is no there there”. OK, so everyone might not have access to Wikipedia, but that quote has since been taken out of context by some fellow Oaklanders , who see it as a slight to the city. I don’t exactly follow, but apparently there are those who are abreast of random literary quotes, but only enough to misinterpret them, then get all hot and bothered and go make bumper stickers about it.

Cut to 2005, the city of Berkeley commissioned a cheeky $50,000 public art work titled “Herethere”, which is installed on the Berkeley-Oakland border. On the Berkeley side, eight foot-tall letters spell out “HERE”, and on the Oakland side, another set of steel letters read “THERE”. Oakland residents grumbled about it, so it probably should have come as no surprise last month when a group of renegade knitters donned masks and worked through the night to cover the “T” in “THERE” in a *giant tea cozy*. When Berkeley city officials suggested the hooligan crafters remove the cozy, supporters set up camp to guard their handiwork of civic disobedience.

Gertrude Stein saw it as an end to childhood. Oaklanders see it as a racist slur. Berkelyites see it as $50K. Knitting activists see it as fun, biodegradable protest. The artists of the actual sculpture see the cozy as “creating a dialog”. The Parks Department sees it as defacing public art. Salt Bagel sees it as delicious fodder.

If there was any part of this story that could have been mirrored in New York, or anywhere else, this is where I think the two versions would begin to break:
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3 responses to “Craft-Based Statements

  1. davida brautman

    These people should just “get as life”. There are really so many causes they could give their skills to – knit socks for the troops, make sweaters, scarves, etc. for the poor. But, this is the West Coast, right?

  2. I concur: delicious fodder indeed! Viva la Berkeley!

  3. Stephen M. Carmody

    I think it’s goofy fun!

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