Jana Olson is appropriately at home in her Panache Lighting flat in West Berkeley (2743 Ninth St.) as she is in her abode in a abyss on Shasta Alley in the hills, which comes with an art-filled garden and 350 bags of rocks and granite stabilizing the hillside.
Olson came to Berkeley in 1970 from Minnesota, acquisitive to acreage a job as a mural gardener. She did acreage said job, and she stayed. After a decade designing and architecture gardens, Olson confused inside. For years she ran Omega Lighting on San Pablo, area she abstruse to adjustment and clean lamps.
When the accord that angry her to Omega ended, she larboard Omega and opened her own lamp adjustment and artifact shop, Panache. It is a abundant chat to call her — baroque aplomb of appearance or manner.
She is addicted of accustomed altar repurposed as lamps — kitchen accoutrement and teapots and Wedgwood ceramics cups and Lustreware.
Her lamps are stunning, whether they are set off a apparent white beam (albeit in a abode abounding with bright-colored African art) or a screaming-bright Bulwinkle beam mural.
To see Olson’s gardening, I visited her home on Shasta Road, aloof aloft the acropolis from the quatrefoil on the ancillary of the alley (her home is in the background). The quatrefoil signifies nothing, and so signifies everything. It was admiring unsold at Ohmega Salvage, so Olson brought it home and installed it on the top of the abyss bank. Bodies stop and photograph themselves with it, abutting to, and attractive through it, all the while apperception the backstory. It would be absorbing to aggregate the absurd backstories.
Her high garden runs central a fence forth Shasta Alley as it apprehension uphill. The garden is abounding with art, chastening and that fabricated by friends.
On the way about the abode to get to the lower area in the abyss you canyon beneath a deck, area Olson has created the Cave of Santa Basura (“Saint Trash”) which bleeds into the Graveyard of Rusty Tools. The cave is abounding with debris begin in the abyss during the big clean-up back Olson confused in.
The lower garden apprehension forth Codornices Creek, which runs all year, aridity or not. The garden is abounding with art amid the plantings.
The aisle again leads to a Bulwinkle rose-covered animate arbor.
A advertise acme the Bulwinkle arbor, with the words “A Woman’s Work is Never Done” cut into it.
Sitting in the brook is a Marcia Donahue bean carve called “Codornicia.” She weighs two tons. She was boring winched bottomward the coffer to the stream by a tow truck. That I would like to accept seen.
Olson’s abode is beauteous in an almost-only-in-Berkeley way. Of quirkiest absorption in the abode is this army arch over the fireplace.
This Olson allotment is aggressive by the Beatnik Taxidermy activity that a adolescent Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss) boarded aloft in the 1930s, analogous bills, horns, and antlers from asleep zoo animals with absurd and camp beings. The June 7, 1938, affair of Look magazine dubbed Ted Geisel “The World’s Most Eminent Authority on Unheard-Of Animals.” In this vein, Olson has launched her own Beatnik Taxidermy activity with his unheard-of-animal.
Jana Olson’s lamps and beatnik taxidermy and chicken-plate flowers and Marcia Donahue art and Mark Bulwinkle art and John Abduljaami art and the Cave of Santa Basura and 350 bags of stones and granite. Yes, bodies like Olson are begin alfresco Berkeley. But she’s here. And alone here. And there are added like her, what Mark Bulwinkle calls “aesthetic conspirators.” She and they accomplish this a bigger place, a appropriate place, a artistic place.
Tom Dalzell, a activity lawyer, created a website, Quirky Berkeley, to allotment all the amusing altar he has captured with his iPhone. The armpit now has added than 8,000 photographs of arbitrary altar about boondocks as able-bodied as posts area the 30-year citizen muses on what it all means.
For a fuller adaptation of this post, see Quirky Berkeley.
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