The Free Speech Monument at UC Berkeley

Look Down While at UC Berkeley

I always encourage you to look around. It makes sense that you do this on the UC Berkeley Campus, too. There is plenty to admire, like the Sather Tower, Cal’s well-known symbol, or the Doe Library with its impressive internal architecture. 

The Free Speech Monument at UC BerkeleyBut there are also some interesting marks at the tip of your foot. When you enter Cal from Telegraph Ave right before you pass through the ornate Sather Gate, you should look down for the round plaque on the ground. You will encounter the Free Speech Monument.

The Free Speech Monument with a six-inch hole and concrete circle represents a protest autonomous zone. Its inscription reads “This soil and the air space extending above it shall not be a part of any nation and shall not be subject to any entity’s jurisdiction.” This public art by Mark Brest van Kempen, installed in 1991, commemorates the Free Speech Movement that started in the 1960s at Sproul Plaza. Named after the first act of civil disobedience on an American College Campus the Free Speech Movement in 64/65 was protesting the right to protest on a college campus. 

When I came up with the idea for this blog post I had no idea how timely this would be. 

The Free Speech MonumentAre you protesting right now?


Visit the Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles, Berkeley

Visit the Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles, Berkeley

One of my earliest blog posts was about the Lace Museum in Sunnyvale. A small storefront in a stripmall with amazing examples of lace and rotating exhibits.

A table with leaflets about upcoming classes at the Lacis MuseumI was expecting a similar small space for the Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles in Berkeley. It turns out the Berkeley museum is exponentially larger! They have a store that sells lace, and equipment for embroidery and lace making. If you’d like you can take one of their classes, on embroidery, tatting, or bobbing in their upstairs classroom. To receive an overview of the museum we enjoyed the two tours they offer. 

Mannequins wearing pajamas at the day's end exhibit Our first tour was Day’s End: Personal Glamour Exposed, a fascinating look into the history of night time fashion. From the rather starchy looking undergarments of the 1860s to the silky, lacy nightgowns of the 1920s, a collection of nightcaps and bonnets, and the pajamas of the 1930s. They made a YouTube video of the exponents, but of course it is more stunning to see them in person.

A collection of handkerchiefs from the Transcending Fashion exhibitThe second exhibit is a lesson in lace history: Transcending Fashion: The Lace Accessory. First you learn about the secret language of handkerchiefs, while you bend over a looking glass to see the snowflake like miniature patterns. The history of the communal work of Irish lace and other different techniques to create these intricate patterns are truly amazing

Lace seen through the looking glassEach tour is $3.00 per person, Monday through Saturday, at either 1:00 or 3:00 pm. Tours are by appointment and can be scheduled by calling the Lacis Museum at (510) 843-7290 during regular business hours.

The Lacis Museum is located at 2982 Adeline Street, Berkeley. Hours are Monday to Saturday from noon  to  6pm.


Road sign for the Grand Opening art salon and the famous Illusion Room

Stop by the Grand Opening with its Famous Illusion Room, Berkeley

Grand Opening art salon sign The perfect roadside attraction, off the beaten pass, but close enough to amenities, interesting things to look at, bathroom and a sample of local tea. We visited the Grand Opening and enjoyed all of the above. Grand Opening is an art collective with some events, for example on Saturday, March 9th, 2024 from 1 – 7pm, you can experience the 𝐻𝒪𝒰𝑅 𝒫𝐿𝐸𝒜𝒮𝒰𝑅𝐸 {𝕒 𝕘𝕠𝕠𝕕 𝕥𝕚𝕞𝕖} event, in celebration of the time change. Who could say no to a free event with food, beverages, and art? 

Inside Grand Opening in BerkeleyIf you already booked up that weekend, stop by another time and immerse yourself in the Illusion Room. You have to take off your shoes, your cellphone will be Lock box with a chain for your phoneslocked away in a box that will stay with you, then you may enter the Illusion Room. You have some time to chill and look around the room. When the bell chimes you know your time is up, but unless there are people waiting no one will force you to leave. I won’t tell you what you will find, but I can tell you I now have a sticker advertising this place on my car! 

It is $4 per person, stickers are $3 and you’ll get an offering of tea from nearby Blue Willow Tea

Front entrance of Grand Opening located at 1220 4th St, Berkeley. Triangle sign reads Are We OpenThe art is priced to sell with nothing more than $300. But a lot for less than that. 

You can find the Grand Opening and Illusion Room at 1220 4th St., Berkeley. Hours are Saturday and Sunday, 1 pm – 6 pm. Follow them on Instagram at @grand.opening.arts

Two Barbie dolls, one has its hands above her head

Reclaim and Reinvent Barbie, Sonoma Community Center

The Sonoma Community Center put together two popular concepts – reusing materials and Barbies as fashion models in its annual Trashion Fashion events. A funny wordplay on trash fashion. And who could be a better model than a Barbie doll? 

A tub full of Barbie dolls at the Sonoma Community CenterYou can pick up a doll at the community center for no charge. But to enter the contest you have to pay the non-refundable entry fee of $25 for one entry or $40 for two entries. If you, on the other side, have Barbie, Ken or other under 12 inches dolls to donate you can drop them off at the community center or at Bon Marche at 19405 Riverside Dr, Sonoma. Bon Marche is a Thrift Store that supports the community and funds building health clinics and gardens in Rwanda. Bon Marche accepts donations on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10 am to 3 pm. Please don’t leave your donations outside. As a plus, if you buy something you will be a zero waste star to reuse!

A selection of dolls for the Trashion Fashion exhibitAfter you acquire your doll the fun starts. Decorate your childhood style icon with recycled materials (please only wholesome images!). There will be a silent auction from March 28th – April 12, 2024. If your entry hasn’t sold in the auction it will be returned to you.

Your Barbie applications are due on or before: Friday, March 15th.

The Trashion Barbie: Reclaimed & Reinvented Gallery exhibit and auction has its opening night on March 28  and the exhibit will run through April 12th, 2024. The Sonoma Community Center is located at 276 East Napa Street, Sonoma. It is open 7 days a week from 8 am to 9 pm.

Trashion Classes & WorkshopsA group of dolls for the Trashion Fashion exhibit

February 10th

Trashion Design for Kids & Teens

10:00 am – 12:30 pm

February 12th, February 26th

Free Open Trashion Design Studio & All Star Demo’s

5:30 pm – 8:00 pm


There will also be two Trashion Runway Shows on April 6, 2024,  2:00 pm & 5:00 pm. These are wearable trashion creations. Tickets go on sale early March with SCC members 48 hour pre-sale. On the second floor of the SCC you can see previous examples of the winners.


Entrance to the UC Davis Design Museum

Still…Racism in America, UC Davis

A cartoon from Barbara Brandon-Croft in 2016. 'America put white-supremacy on the ballot. Guess what happend.'No one should be flabbergasted by the notion that there is still racism in the United States. We’ve all seen the pictures of white-supremacist storming the Capitol, Black Lives Matter protests in 2020. We know about gentrification, gerrymandering, redlining, tokenism, and other catch phrases explaining inequality. That these concepts still define racism in America postulates an exhibit at the UC Davis Design Museum. 

Cartoon panels are on display at the UC Davis Design MuseumThe complete title of the new exhibit at the UC Davis Design Museum is: “Still…Racism in America: A Retrospective in Cartoons”. On display are cartoons by the father/daughter duo Brumsic Brandon Jr. and Barbara Brandon-Croft. Brumsic created the comic strip Luther in the late sixties. His daughter Barbara was the nation’s first black female cartoonist. She is known for: Where I’m Coming From

The Design Quarterly outside of the exhibitThe Design Quarterly outside of the Design Museum are mock-up newspaper pages about the exhibit. Listed are the subject matters of the exhibit: The Original Sin, White Supremacy,  Racial Subjugation, Voting Rights, Racial Disparities, Redlining, Politicians, Extremism, Domestic Terrorism, Affirmative Action, Tokenism, Policing, (Mis)Education, Black History, Self-Reflection/Hope. And yes, everything is STILL there.

Inside are cartoon panels mixed from both artists, the year they were published, underneath. I get the stagnation, feel how exhausting it must be, smirk at the sarcasm. But I am still hopeful. The way to equality is to uncover the inequality and make people understand. 

The UC Davis Design Museum is open Monday thru Friday noon to 4pm. Admission is free. Located at Cruess Hall, #124, Davis, CA. Still will be on display until April 21, 2024.

Entrance to the exhibit Different Worlds at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art

View Different Worlds, Sonoma

View of some of the artworks by Tsherin Sherpa. In front is one of the carpets.Different Worlds is the title of the new exhibit at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art in downtown Sonoma. The exhibit shows works by Bay Area artist Tsherin Sherpa

SA carpet depicting a tiger and in the back some of the paintings by Tsherin Sherpaherpa was trained in his home country of Kathmandu, Nepal as a thangka painter. Thangkas are traditional Tibetan Buddhist art. The artist invites us to his different worlds as an artistic mixtape of his religious roots and contemporary perspectives. The outcome is mystic but familiar. On our visit we caught up with a museum guide who explained some of the symbolism and techniques. I really liked the vibrant deconstructed paintings of swirled thangkas suggesting the artist’s mixed emotions and introducing the western world into his traditional upbringing. 

Multiple collages but also two carpets and a statue are on display until April 28th. Opening reception is Saturday, January 27th from 5 -7 pm. The film screening of ‘Above and Below: The Life of Artist Tsherin Sherpa’ is unfortunately sold out. But the museum might add a second screening. There are also activities for kids, for example free mangalas.

Two of Tsherin Sherpa's paintings with swirlsThe SVMA is located at 551 Broadway in downtown Sonoma. Opening hours are: Wednesday thru Sunday 11 am to 5 pm. Admissions is free every Wednesday, otherwise general admission is $10, seniors, students, and Sonoma Valley residents pay $7, people under 18 are free. 

How would your different worlds look like?


Fourth Street in Berkeley with Holiday light display

See the Holiday Lights on Berkeley’s 4th Street

Stars are hanging from a tree wrapped in lightsA great inexpensive activity for the holiday is walking or driving through the holiday lights display on Berkeley’s 4th Street. Unless of course you end up buying a lot of things in the stores and restaurants of this high-end shopping street.

4th St in Berkeley decorated in Holiday lightsThe canopied shopping district wraps all its trees in tiny lights, then decorates them with stars and colored bulbs. Garlands of lights with blue snowflakes in the middle hang across the streets. 

Until December 31st the lights will turn on at 5pm. During the weekends stop by for some caroling and crafting events. You can even drop off a letter for Santa in front of Peet’s Coffee. Last day for mailing your letter is Wednesday December 20th, 2023. All letters with a return address will receive an answer from an elf!

This Saturday is the annual Artisan Asian Market, 11 am – 4 pm, along the paseo between Warby Parker and Cafe Reville, 1911 4th Street. Additionally, from 5:30 – 7:30 pm, you can wave at the participants of the Holiday Fantasy Parade – You Drive, We Wave

Each Friday and Saturday participating shops will stay open until 7 pm. The holiday lights spectacle is on Fourth Street between Hearst and Virginia Street in Berkeley. 

Where is your favorite holiday light display?

A sandwich board for the Pence Gallery announcing it to be open with a note about the Holiday Market. Admission is free

Shop for Holiday Gifts, Pence Gallery, Davis

Three egg shaped ornaments hanging on a tree branchNow we are definitely in the midst of the Holiday season. Do you have all the gifts already lined up? If not, you might want to check out the Pence Gallery in Davis and their annual Holiday Market. You have until December 24th to shop for unique gifts from local artists. Over 60 artists enchant you with products from soaps to jewelry to ornaments. I found the egg shaped ornaments by Airy Krich-Brinton surprising! Everything is hand-made by local artists. 

Donuts on a wallAdditionally, you can browse their current exhibit: Joseph Bellacera: The Matter of Light, December 8, 23 – February 2, 24 and Adrienne van Summern: Quit Moments, December 8th – 30th, 23. Both exhibits will be accompanied with a reception on December 8th from 6 – 9 pm.

And if you wander upstairs there are some more items for sale. I loved the colorful donuts from Jeff Nebeker!

The front of Pence Gallery with a sign about the Holiday MarketIf you feel spontaneous you can explore the 2nd Friday ArtAbout today! The Pence Gallery with their partners Logos Books and The Artery will hold receptions today! (12/8/23 that is) from 6 – 9 pm. 

Pence Gallery’s Holiday Market is open daily from 11:30 am –  5 pm. Located at 212 D Street in downtown Davis.

Are you in the Holiday spirit yet?

Sign outside the Del Mar Theatre advertising Shaun of the Dead at midnight

Watch a Movie at the Iconic Del Mar Theatre, Santa Cruz

Inside the lobby at the Del Mar Theatre showing the stairsThe Del Mar Theatre in downtown Santa Cruz first opened in 1936. Much more than a movie theater it had a stage and a 25 piece orchestra pit for vaudeville acts. In the 70s the Del Mar presented concerts by Duke Ellington, Jerry Garcia, and Tom Waits, to name a few. 

The screen is showing a scene from the Wizard of OzAfter a transformation to a multiplex cinema in 1978 it closed again in 1999. Plans to convert the theater into shops and offices failed. In 2002 it was re-opened by a cooperation of the City of Santa Cruz and Nickelodeon. 

The restored art deco design and neon features evoke nostalgia. Some choices of movies might also bring back memories. We saw ‘Stop Making Sense’, Talking Heads 40th Anniversary re-release film from their 1983 concert there over the summer. And it was the perfect location to do this. From catcalls at the beginning to spontaneous dancing.

Of course the ultimate sing and act along movie, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, is a regular. The UC Santa Cruz even has a club, the Slugs in Fishnets, that welcomes everyone to People in the lobby of the Del Mar Theatreparticipate.This is the longest running Rocky Horror shadow cast in the country!  Their instagram page @slugsinfishnets has a link to the Call Out script. 

Blair Stenveck from Santa Cruz Life dishes out some unique facts about the Del Mar. First the snacks are not your every movie theater faire, but vegan brownies and local ice cream. Oh, and the popcorn is GMO free and served with real butter! The Secret Film Festival occurs every April. It’s a midnight to noon festival for the hardcore film connoisseur where you can try to stay awake for all 12 films, or test out the comfortable movie chairs for dozing. Christopher Neely reported on what he learned from this year’s event.

Besides iconic movies, the Del Mar also shows blockbusters and you can even rent this space.Three stalls with green doors

Lastly I leave you with one of my few bathroom pictures – it was such a beautiful arrangement in green and beige.

Flames and Tears by Vojtech Blazejovsky

Experience the Flame Within, ACCI Gallery, Berkeley

Metal sculpture Round and Round by Barbara M. Berk The Metal Arts Guild provides its members with opportunities to show off their creations in galleries and museums. Their current exhibit ‘The Flame Within” is at the ACCI Gallery in Berkeley. Until November 12th, 2023 you can marvel at the creative ways these thirty three metal artists express their medium. From jewelry to sculptures the material was heated, bent, and formed into beautiful designs. 

Inside the ACCI gallery in BerkeleyWhile there is a space dedicated to the Metal Arts Guild, I also enjoyed the other artists’ creations. As the oldest Arts and Crafts co-op west of the Mississippi, it consists of over 100 juried artists.

Floral Fancy by Kim WebsterI highly recommend checking out the ACCI Gallery for gift ideas. Are we getting close to that time of the year already? Unique gifts from paintings to jewelry to pottery and other creative art, there was so much to see! I really enjoyed the urban garden in the back with the decorative glass flowers and other sculptures. 

The Flame Within will be open until Sunday, November 12th, 2023. 

Entrance to the ACCI Gallery in BerkeleyACCI Gallery is located in the middle of Berkeley’s Gourmet District, at 1652 Shattuck Ave. Opening hours are Monday to Saturday from 11 am – 6 pm, Sunday noon – 5 pm.