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)

Entrance to the UC Bicycle Hall of Fame, Davis

Commemorate Bike Riders, U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame, Davis

The spokes of a high wheel with a picture of a high wheel in the backgroundSince Davis is the bike capital of the US it makes sense that they host the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame.

The non profit charges $5 admission. If you believe that this is just for bike enthusiasts that religiously follow all the main races you might be as surprised as I was to find out it is not. 

On the lower level is an exhibit on the history of bikes. I loved the inventiveness of the bike; from the tall wheels with little wheels in the back to the modern race bike, people tried all sorts of ways to upgrade their wheels. The photographs of child messengers by Lewis Hines became the face of the child labor reform movement.  

A display for Mayor Taylor at the US Bicycle Hall of Fame in DavisThe upper level hosts the Hall of Fame. You won’t find America’s most known cyclist, Lance Armstrong. Due to his admittance of drug use he won’t be inducted into the Hall of Fame. The cyclists they are highlighting have fascinating stories, like Mayor Taylor, the world’s first black superstar, or five-time national champion Nancy Burghart.

The U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame is only open Wednesdays from 4 pm – 6 pm and Saturdays from 10 am – 2 pm. It is right next to the Farmers Market, so a perfect combination on a Saturday while exploring Davis. A six person tandem at the UC Bicycle Hall of Fame, Davis

Do you have a favorite cyclist?

The U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame is located on 303 3rd St in downtown Davis. Hours are Wednesday from 4 pm – 6 pm and Saturdays from 10 am – 2 pm. General admission is $5, seniors and students pay $3. 

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?

 

Shovel Gateway, a public art installation marking the entrance to the Arboretum GATEway garden

Walk Among Trees, UC Davis Arboretum

A bench at one of the gardens at the UC Davis arboretum.The University of California Davis is well known as an agricultural university. The small city of Davis offers many things for students, locals, and visitors. The arboretum is one of the best places to hike within the city limits. It features a 3.5 mile loop passing California natives, Australian and East Asian collections and other gardens. In fact the UC arboretum website promises you over 20 places to explore! 

Our exploration started at the UC parking lot 55, which is free on the weekends. If you plan to go during the week you have to download the parking app and daily parking is $15. The trail entrance has a nice garden with information signage and restrooms. If you are hiking the large loop like we did I found it convenient to break up the hike and have lunch downtown. The entrance to downtown is at the top of the trail, perfect for a halfway mark. A donkey laying down at the barn at UC Davis.

On our way back to the car we saw the barn. A restless stallion was watching over some young horses. A donkey with his eyes covered so the flies could not bother him was the closest animal we were able to observe. 

Overall this is a pleasant 2 hour walk. The shady walkway is mostly paved, also inviting people on wheels. But there is an upper bike trail so bikes are a rare sight. Dogs are allowed on leash. 

Have you been to the UC Davis Arboretum?

This Saturday, October 22nd and on November 5th, the Friends of the UC Davis Arboretum have their plant sale fundraiser. They call it a festival-like event, and I am very excited to check it out.

The UC Santa Cruz arboretum and botanical garden is also a great place to explore.

While this post is not technically in the Bay Area, I will expand my blog to include Yolo county due to a recent move. 

People standing under the electric tower in History Park

Admire a Former Landmark of San Jose

The electric tower at the History of San Jose parkHistory Park in San Jose preserved a lot of buildings by moving them from their original location to Kelly Park. Some of the buildings are replications of former glory, like the Bank of Italy and the candy shop next door. 

An old photograph of the original electric tower taken from the information signage at History ParkNevertheless, the most recognized structure is the electric tower framing the intersection next to the Bank of Italy building. It is a half-scale replica of the original 237-foot tower that was built at the intersection of Santa Clara and Market Street in San Jose in 1881. The tower collapsed in a storm in 1915. As a monument to progress it was hoped to illuminate the downtown area by imitating moon light. J.J. Owens, editor of the San Jose Mercury, is credited with the idea. In an editorial piece, he proclaimed that by “providing a high and immense source of arc light, the night would become as day for the downtown area.” (Information signage at History Park)

Side view of the electric towerHailed as the world’s tallest free-standing iron structure of its time, some said the design influenced the 1889 Eiffel Tower. After a mock trial at Santa Clara State University, it was decided that two minds had independently come up with similar ideas. 

Ironically this concept of lighting up the downtown didn’t prove to be successful. The tower did not light the immediate area, and farmers nearby complained that the moon-imitating structure confused their chickens. 

But this was the beginning of available electricity in in cities, and gas lamps were slowly replaced with electric lights. 

Lit up replica of the electric tower during Christmas in the ParkA much smaller reproduction of this landmark can be seen lit up at Christmas in the Park sponsored by the Rotary Club.

Did you know about the electric light tower?

History in San Jose is located at 635 Phelan Avenue. Admission is free, except during special events, but parking is $6 for an all-day pass. The park is open Mondays thru Sundays, 9 am to 4 pm.

Resources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Jose_electric_light_tower

https://historysanjose.org/plan-your-visit/history-park/electric-light-tower/

https://www.sjpl.org/blog/looking-back-san-joses-electric-light-tower

 

Relax in Marin’s Art and Garden Center, Ross

Relax in Marin’s Art and Garden Center, Ross

Combining art with a relaxing garden is a win-win experience. At the Marin Art and Garden Center in Ross this is exactly what you will get. The garden grounds are open from sunrise to sunset, seven days a week with free admission. 

Amongus art work by Marcia DonahueThere are sculptures placed around the ground. I most liked the Amongus from Marcia Donahue stacks of mushroom like objects in earthy tones.

The center also has an art gallery. The hours for visiting the gallery are: Thursdays to Saturdays 10 am – 4 pm, and Sundays 12 pm – 4 pm. The latest exhibit Confluence: Reflections on Our Shifting Environment zero in on the climate crisis and the relationship between humans and the natural world. Laura Corallo-Titus’s multi-media paintings, Cindy Stokes’s installation and wall sculpture, and Arminée Chahbazian’s large multi-media imagery on paper can be seen until August 28th, 2022. 

Fountain with water liliesHighlights from the garden include the Magnolia circle and the rose garden with over 150 varieties. The fountain with its water lilies is a nice place to contemplate. 

Summer fun includes concerts in July every Thursday night and a yoga class on Wednesdays.A pink rose from the rose garden at the Marin Art and Garden Center in Ross

The Marin Art and Garden Center is located at 30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Ross. Admission is free and donations are appreciated. Open from sunrise to sunset everyday. 

Have you relaxed at the Marin Art and Garden Center?

Model train set with a train station

Follow the Trains at Moffett Field

War planes painted on the ceiling of the Moffett Field Historical Society MuseumThere are plenty of different ‘fleets’ at the Moffett Field Historical Society Museum. The model train set in the backroom was the most unusual. 

The Moffett Field Historical Society Museum illustrates the history of the various military and NASA commands at this military base. There are many fascinating exhibits illuminating the long history of the airbase.

A model of the USS MaconFor example: The history of the iconic Hanger One and the rigid airship industry was the most compelling reason to go to the museum. I have always been impressed with the size of the zeppelin hangers you can see from the 101. I learned that the USS Macon that was housed in Hangar One, together with her sister airship the USS Akron, is still the world record holder for helium-filled rigid airships. In 1935 the USS Macon was lost in a storm off the coast off Big Sur. 

On Saturdays you also have the pleasure to check out the train room. The building that is now the museum used to be the recreation building for the Navy. Model train building was a nice pastime. The trains ride through interesting model areas with various levels. And ad for halicrafters TV for the model trains set-up

To enter the base you are required to show a valid ID. Admission to the museum is $8 for adults, $3 for 13 – 17 year olds, and $5 for seniors and disabled persons. Persons that serve active military duty and members of the museum are free.

I highly recommend the Moffett Field Historical Society Museum to any person with an affinity to aviation (and model trains). 

The museum is open Wednesdays through Saturdays 10am – 3pm.

Have you been to the Moffett Field Historical Society Museum?

 

Top of Lyford Tower, Tiburon.

Pleasant Views at Lyford Tower, Tiburon

And old fireplace with a plaque above and a window overlooking the BayThe picturesque town of Tiburon has much to offer. A stunning view of Angel Island and the Golden Gate Bridge are particularly special when you walk from downtown to the Lyford Tower. 

A stone bench at the overlook at Lyford Tower.This stone tower is named after Dr. Benjamin Lyford,  a medical embalmer and surgeon in the Union Army during the Civil War. His vision for the area was to create the utopian village of “Hygeia”. Strict rules on how to build the houses and Lyford’s lack of enthusiasm stalled the project. The tower and Lyford’s house are all that remains of this development. The house was moved in 1957 and both are now owned by Tiburon’s Richardson Bay Audubon Center and Sanctuary

With no nearby parking the best way to reach the tower is a short walk up Shoreline Park. When I reached it, I was surprised by the fireplace inside and the stone bench facing the water that invites you to sit and enjoy the view. 

Tiburon’s first historical landmark is definitely worth a visit. Lyford Tower streetview

Have you appreciated the views of Lyford’s tower?

Resources:

https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/lyfords-tower

https://marinmagazine.com/community/local-news/travel-and-explore-tiburon-the-rich-story-behind-lyfords-tower/

https://localwiki.org/tiburon/Lyford%27s_Stone_Tower

Fandango in Petaluma, Petaluma Adobe

A shady spot in the courtyard of the Petaluma Adobe.The Petaluma Adobe was once the largest privately owned adobe building in Northern California; the owner – General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo. From 1834 – 1846 this adobe supported the military efforts in Sonoma.

Vallejo was the most powerful man of his time in Mexican California. His mission was to secularize the San Francisco Solano Mission in Sonoma and be a countermeasure to the Russian outpost in Fort Ross.

Cowhides piled up in one room of the Petaluma AdobeThe rancho is two stories. The exhibits show life on the rancho, with hides piled in one room, sleeping quarters from workers to supervisors, and a courtyard with two large ovens.

Now the rooms of the adobe complex have been furnished to re-enact the end of slaughtering season (matanza) and the preparation for the festivities for the workers (fandango). 

View from the upstairs veranda of the Petaluma AdobeDon’t miss walking around the veranda upstairs. You will be rewarded with a nice view of the valley.

The Petaluma Adobe is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm. Due to staffing constraints please call 707-938-9560. The park is located at 3325 Adobe Road in Petaluma. Admission is $3.00 for adults, $2.00 for children between 6 and 16, and children under 5 are free. 

Have you ever danced a fandango?

Petaluma Historical Library & Museum

Walk into History, Petaluma

Glass dome of the Petaluma Historical MuseumThe building that houses the Petaluma Historical Library & Museum is in itself a representation of history. The former Carnegie Library was built in 1904. Entering through the massive stone columns the tiled floor reads: Free to all. The most stunning feature is the glass dome. The dome is the largest free standing stained glass dome in Northern California. It is definitely worth admiring it with an upward tilted head.

A sign the reads: school cross walkOn entering the museum we were greeted by a friendly attendant and she told us about the layout of the exhibit. The lower floor has the current exhibit: Local Ties – ​​Histories of the Petaluma & Haystack Railway, Northwestern Pacific Railroad and Petaluma & Santa Rosa Railway. You can view it through July 24th, 2022. While the upper floor is dedicated to the permanent exhibition of the history of Petaluma. This reaches from the life of the native population, over school life of the past, to the history of dairy farmers.

A signage of Petaluma’s Black History reveals Petaluma’s less glorious moments. Redlining was, while banned by the Supreme Court in 1948, still a common practice in the North Bay in the 1960s. Due to this housing discrimination only one black family lived in Petaluma in 1960. In 2020 the black population accounted for 1.2%. For comparison, overall there were 5% of blacks in California listed in the 2020 census (https://www.ppic.org/publication/californias-population/).

Memorabilia of American GraffitiAlong with the current exhibit downstairs is a tribute to American Graffiti. Most of the film was shot in Petaluma. Even these days Petaluma is in great demand as a filming location. We saw a film crew for a Christmas movie at the high school.

A small carouselThe Petaluma Historical Library & Museum

is located on 20 4th Street in Petaluma. Opening hours are Thursday, Friday and Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm, Saturday from 10 am to 4:40 pm. Admission is free but a suggested donation of $5 is appreciated.

 

Do you enjoy local historical museums?