Pottery by Kimi Masui

Gift some Pottery, Berkeley Potters Guild

Pottery by Margarete Grisz DowThe Berkeley Potters Guild welcomes visitors to their 51st anniversary Holiday Open Studio. This year’s event is under the motto: Vibe of color. Every Saturday and Sunday of December from 11 am to 5 pm and the whole week of the 17th till the 24th you can shop handmade pottery. 17 artists will show off their work and celebrate the season with live music.

Last year was the 50th anniversary of the Berkeley Potters Guild. Even during the pandemic they organized a splendid event, with much social distancing. Nevertheless you could also chat with the artists and learn their motivation and love for the craft. Since we are now going into the 3rd year of the pandemic they still require you to wear masks at all times. A kiln at the Berkeley Potters Guild

From bowls and vases to little magnets, tiles, and jewelry the selection is holding a gift for everyone on your list. The gallery shows off the highest priced pieces, so you are also treated to an arts and craft exhibit. I like the old kiln and the building itself with its nooks and history.

It was quite revealing last year when an artist told us she thought one of her creations was stolen, and someone had to tell her that it just got sold. Yes, you can be quite attached to your work. If you give any of these creations you know you have a unique work of art.  

Berkeley Potters Guild is open from 11 am to 5 pm every Saturday and Sunday of December and the whole week from the 17th to the 24th, closing the 24th at 2 pm. The gallery at the Berkeley Potters Guild

Admission is free. There is no parking lot, but the street parking was relatively easy.

Are you giving unique gifts this season? 

(Images are from last years open studio at the Berkeley Potters Guild)

Inside the Manetti Shrem Museum at UC Davis

Traverse the Manetti Shrem Museum, Davis

  Outside the Manetti Shrem Museum at the UC DavisEven before you enter the Manetti Shrem Museum on the UC Davis campus the building itself gives out an artistic vibe. The metal roof hanging over the entrance with its lined patches is an homage to the surrounding agriculture fields. This stunning building is one of the top 25 Best Museum Buildings of the Past 100 Years by ARTnews

Currently there are three exhibits at the Manetti Shrem Museum. Young, Gifted, and Black will be on view until December 19th, 2022. The other two, Roy De Forest: Habitats for Travelers and Loie Hollowell: Tick Tock Belly Clock, are open until May, 2023.Museum guides at the Manetti Shrem Museum

The free art experience comes with few instructions that are quite standard museum goer rules: Stay an arms distance away from the art and don’t touch anything. If you have questions you can ask anyone wearing a colorful lab coat.

One of Loie Hollowell's artwork.I have to admit some of Loie Hollowell’s pieces made it tempting to break the  do-not-touch-role. Big 3-D shaped bellies made me remember the feel of a pregnant belly and the connection with the life growing within you.

Part of Wimer Wilson’s PresMy favorite piece,Wimer Wilson’s Pres, was from Young, Gifted, and Black. An enlarged flyer stapled on a piece of plywood with over 10.000 staples, truly spectacular, as the shimmer of the metal draws new life into the persons hidden underneath. 

Parking

A word of advice, I should have looked up the Manetti Shrem Museum before taking off. I ended up paying $15 for a day pass on the UC Davis campus. When I got out of the car I saw the sign for hourly parking for museum visitors, too late, I had already paid using the ParkMobile app.

You can purchase hourly parking for C Zone lots from the gray permit dispensers located at the entrances of the museum’s Visitor Parking Lot 1 and at the Gateway Garage parking structure. Rates are: $1.75 for 1 hour, $2.75 for the second hour, $3.75 for the third hour.

Have you been able to admire the Manetti Shrem Museum?

 

Historical Landmark sign with the Pena Adobe house in the back

Admire the Adobe Peña, Vacaville

The front of the Mowers-Goheen Museum at the Pena Adobe ParkIf you are looking for a  pitstop with a roadside attraction you should stop at the rest area on route 80 near Vacaville, Peña Adobe Park. The bathrooms are okay for a public park, but the location holds the oldest structure in Solano County! 

The first settlers in the Lagoon Valley were the Vaca and the Peña family. Both houses were built in 1842, but only the Peña house remains. Vaca’s house was destroyed in an earthquake in 1892. 

Adobe oven at the Pena Adobe ParkNext to the Peña house is an adobe oven, an early open air kitchen. In 1880 another kitchen was added. This little house is now the Mowers-Goheen Museum, showing off artifacts of the archeological dig that occurred in the 1960s. On the first Saturdays of each month February thru December from 11:00am – 2:00 pm, the Mowers-Goheen Museum is open and volunteers offer tours of the historical park.

The adjacent Willis Linn Jepson Garden is being restored by UC Davis. There are a lot of native plants in their beginning stages, and the signage promises a wide variety of plants.

Inside the Pena Adobe houseNot surprisingly the archeology digs in the 1960s also found remains of indigenous peoples, who were buried in the Burial Grounds nearby.

If you can’t make it to the public tours you should check out the YouTube channel for the Peña Adobe Historical Society. While the house and the museum are only open on the first Saturday of the month, you can still peek into the windows on the first floor.

The nearby Lagoon Park charges $5 for parking; there is no charge or admission to see the historic park. 

Resources

Peña Adobe Historical Society

https://www.penaadobe.org/

Eagle Scout Project by Jason Hanson, 2006

https://www.penaadobe.org/images/2017/eaglescoutpena.pdf

City of Vacaville

https://www.ci.vacaville.ca.us/Home/Components/FacilityDirectory/FacilityDirectory/20/991?locale=en

 

Plaque of the Paradox Walnut

Learn about the Paradox Walnut, Woodland

Last week I wrote about the UC Davis Arboretum. 15 minutes north of Davis is Woodland, named by Gertrude Freeman in 1861 for the “wooded country about”.

Trunk of the Paradox walnut, WoodlandTwo weeks ago we did the landmark trees bike tour that was part of the annual Stroll Through History. Each September Woodland offers tours about historic buildings and has open houses. This historic rich city started their architecture oriented tours in 1989. 

The bike tour, a new addition to the event, began at 10 am at City Park on the corner of Oak and Walnut. This is when we got to meet the Paradox walnut and learned about Luther Burbank’s gift to the city on Arbor Day in 1925.  Paradox walnut in Woodland's City Park

In the late nineteenth century Luther Burbank, the renowned horticulturist and botanist from Santa Rosa, began his controlled crosses between walnuts. The Paradox walnut is a cross between the northern California Black walnut and the Persian walnut. He named it Paradox “because of the extremely fast growth and other ‘anomalies.’” (https://www.ars.usda.gov/research/publications/publication/?seqNo115=301125

In Burbank’s own words: 

“​​As compared with seedlings of either the California or the Persian walnut, they manifested an enormously enhanced capacity for growth. Indeed they sprang forward at such a rate as presently to dwarf their pure breed relatives. The phenomenal growth of these hybrid trees continued year after year. The tree so far out-stripped all competitors in the matter of growth that it might fairly be said to represent a new type of vegetation. On this account, and in recognition of sundry other anomalies, I named them Paradox.” (http://www.lutherburbankonline.com/V2-C5.html) Burbank noted further the curious apple-like fragrance. The wood of the Paradox walnut is extremely hard and close grained, which is a further anomaly since it is such a fast growing tree. 

In further research I learned that the Paradox walnut is now the most popular rootstock in California. 

Do you know about any landmark trees in your area?

Canopy of the Paradox walnut at sunset.

Resources:

Stroll Through History

https://strollthroughhistory.com/about-us/history/

Woodland Tree Foundation 

www.woodlandtree.org

USDA  Luther Burbank’s contributions to walnuts

https://www.ars.usda.gov/research/publications/publication/?seqNo115=301125

Luther Burbank OnlineThe Royal Walnut

http://www.lutherburbankonline.com/V2-C5.html

 

Overview of the maze from one of the bridges. Sprayed on: Lost in da cornmaze

Don’t Get Lost in This Corn Maze in Dixon

Signs for Cool Patch Pumpkins with pumpkins in the backgroundPumpkin patches and corn mazes are popping up all over the country. You’ll find Dixon’s corn maze at 6150 Dixon Ave West, near Interstate 80, in Dixon. Dixon’s Cool Patch Pumpkins holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest corn maze. Yes, this one is considered exercise. It took us about an hour and a half from start to finish. But let me start from the beginning. 

They do offer other entertainment besides the corn maze, mostly for little kids, like a corn bath, think ball bath with corn kernels, a pumpkin patch, and some cool insta-worthy photo opps. The corn bath is $5 no matter how old you are.

Image showing map for the corn maze and the entrance of the mazeSince we came for the maze we did not get distracted with the other fun things. The maze is $20 per person, but we are talking about the world’s largest corn maze, so I thought it was totally worth it. You’ll get a map and tickets and off you go!Me in front of the sign that reads: congrats! You just completed the world's largest corn maze

There are five colorful bridges, which break up the walk and help you orient yourself. The first bridge is nicely done as a test-drive for this experience. They say you can’t really get lost. If you feel uncomfortable just walk through a row of corn and find the edge of the maze. You’ll be surrounded by, I would say, 8 feet high corn, and if you really needed to follow the emergency instructions it would not be as easy as it sounds. Luckily we made it through without a case of claustrophobia, or need for a bathroom break. 

This brings me to my recommendations to enjoy the maze:

  • Find the little markers on the ground. Those give you a clue on where you are. Oh, and don’t lose your map, or better yet take a picture of the map.
  • There are no bathrooms within the maze, so you know what to do.
  • The pathway is uneven. Wear comfortable shoes and something that you don’t mind getting dirty. It is not wheelchair or stroller accessible.
  • The paths are half in the shade, but it is still good to wear a hat.
  • Come early, Dixon warms up to over 80 F later in the day. 
  • Bring some water with you. 
  • There are no trash cans in the maze, so please take any of your trash with you. 

A pile of trash on one of the bridges in the mazeThe last point was a bit upsetting, seeing all this trash that people tossed. This is still a corn field and the corn will get harvested later in the season. Please don’t leave any trash in the maze. 

Cool Patch Pumpkins is open until October 31st everyday from 9:00am – 8:00pm.

On weekends there is food and coffee offered. 

Have you conquered a corn maze before?

Large chess pieces

Play Chess in the Park, Santana Row

Large chess figures at Santana RowHave you all watched the Queen’s Gambit yet and were you obsessed with chess for a while? If you are looking for a public place to play chess or watch others scheming their next move, head out to Santana Row in San Jose. There is a large chess game set up on Santana Row’s Chess Plaza across from the Vintage Wine Bar. The chess pieces can be moved easily with two hands, even by tiny ones. The size of the pieces were knee-high for me. And while the board is a bit weathered I’m glad they made a comeback after being stored in quarantine because of COVID. Wooden table with a chess board.

If you prefer a smaller scale set you can bring your own pieces and play on the tables lining their larger cousin; of chess sets that is. This way you’ll be able to order a drink while lounging in the wooden chairs pondering your next move.

Fountain across from the large chess set at Santana Row, San Jose.By the way, Santana Row is an experience in itself. An outdoor shopping mall with some high-end stores, copious dining options, and outdoor experiences, like the upcoming Makers Market on October 8th, 2022. An inviting place to stroll and people watch.

Have you ever played chess at Santana Row?

If you like outdoor board games you can also play Senet at the Rosicrucian Museum; or get a group together and play the Guiness Record setting Monopoly.

Chalk art in Japantown, San Jose.

See Chalk Art

A monkey drawn in chalk, its body already fading.To create art is joyful, therapeutic, and a gift for the viewers if it speaks to them. To create chalk art adds a temporary component that I admire and despise at the same time. Hours spent by the artist are washed away within days. I captured the remains of Palo Alto’s Festival of the Arts that happened August 27 & 28, 2022 a few days later. To my surprise Tasso St where a couple of days ago the street artist put down masterpieces was only a faint memory as if the event never happened.

There are of course pictures online. But to see these street artists at work is a real treat. Coming September 17th to San Jose, the Luna Park’s Chalk Art Festival will be back after a hiatus due to COVID. The organizers expect over 3,000 artists, students, vendors, and community members in San José’s Backesto Park. You can see the Madonnari, the Italian word for street painter, at work. Luna Park also encourages you to learn how to draw with chalk. In fact they are a foundation that  provides funds for art school programs and local artists. The festival is free. A chalk art painting from a previous Palo Alto Arts Festival.

Another chalk art event right around the corner is happening in Niles on September 24th, 2022. The Chalk Art in the Park raises money for the Ohlone Humane Society. With a suggested donation you’ll receive a goodie bag with chalks and a square concrete to work on. 

Luna Park’s Chalk Art Festival in Backesto Park, San Jose September 17th, 2022. Admission is free.

Chalk Art in the Park in Niles Town Plaza, Niles September 24th, 2022, from 10am to 3pm.

Have you ever painted in chalk?

 

A crab in a tide pool

Tide Pool at Bean Hollow State Beach

   Tafoni rock formation found at Bean Hollow State Beaach.Tide pooling is a fun activity. On low tide you’ll be able to see some ocean residents in little pools. One place to do this is at Bean Hollow State Beach near Pescadero. Bean Hollow stands out because of the interesting rock formations. Tafoni rock, or swiss-cheese-rock, makes you feel like you landed in a different universe! Starfish in a tide pool

The tide pools don’t continue the swiss theme, but you’ll be greeted by tiny crabs. It took us a while to spot a starfish, and in my photo on the right you might be able to see it. It is not presenting its iconic formation, but instead clinging to the walls. Whenever we went tide pooling there was always lots of sea-life in these shallow pools. As you move closer to the ocean, there is more and more algae; the ground becomes slippier and slippier.  So be careful. Please watch your steps and the ocean. 

Orange pepper in a tide poolMy most colorful discovery turned out to be an orange pepper. Probably left over from a picnic?

Like I said, tide pooling is a lot of discovering. Check out the tide chart (https://www.tideschart.com/United-States/California/San-Mateo-County/Bean-Hollow-State-Beach/) before you go. You are not allowed to take anything except pictures. 

Where do you go tide pooling?

A kiln with a globe of fire.

Be Blown Away by BAGI, San Jose

A sign pointing to the public entrance for BAGIBAGI stands for Bay Area Glass Institute, a non-profit partially funded by the City of San Jose’s Office of Cultural Affairs. On my recent visit to the History Park in San Jose I came across a sign inviting me to check out BAGI. Right next to the bee garden not far from the electrical tower there is an entrance to the History Park from the BAGI parking lot.

Glass hearts are for sale at BAGIWhen I stepped in I noticed the cubbies with things ready to be picked up. At a counter I was greeted by a young woman explaining what BAGI is. They give classes and you can sell your glass creations; it is also popular for team-events. She invited me to sit down on the bleachers in the next room where three artists were working. She mentioned that they are used to onlookers. They acknowledged me but fired away. I enjoyed watching the calm art of working with red-glowing glass. Fires burning in the ovens, hot rods being fired up, constant turning of the rods. Back at the counter you’ll be inspired by what people have created. Part of these creations are for show, part are for sale. You’ll see bowls and vases, glass beads, and whole jewelry creations. 

If you don’t feel comfortable just strolling by you can also book a demonstration. For a 1 hour demo, it is $10 per person with a minimum of 25 people or $250 for smaller groups.Kiln for melting glass

To deepen your relationship with melted glass the Bay Area Glass Institute offers classes for beginners thru advanced skill levels.

You can visit the BAGI at 635 Phelan Ave. San Jose, CA

Have you ever blown glass or watched someone doing it?

 

Front of Diridon station, San Jose

Find the Way to San Jose

Display from the Way to San Jose exhibit with a sign reading cinnabarIf you are like me, anytime you see a sign to San Jose you know what to sing. One of the ways to arrive at or leave San Jose is via Amtrak at the Diridon station. If you happen to be in the waiting room and need to pass time you should check out the displays around. ‘The way to San Jose’ is an exhibit that showcases the different transportation options in the Santa Clara Valley.

From early tule boats, a canoe used by the Oholone, to the BART extension program, the exhibit highlights different ways to travel. Mineta airport and the former port of Alviso are also stations to learn about. There is quite a history in this area about transportation! Mural of a oxen carrying passengers and horse riders

If you enjoy architecture, the Italian Renaissance Revival style of the Diridon station might intrigue you as well.

I hope your summer travel is going well and you’ll find your way back to San Jose.

Resources:

https://www.mercurynews.com/2010/10/14/the-way-to-san-jose-themes-transportation-history-exhibit-at-diridon-station/