April 11, 2014 – UC Berkeley. Here is another lunch time sketch from the Cal campus. The Campanile (Sather Tower) is synonymous with UC Berkeley and it’s effort to constantly push the envelope and strive for excellence in academia. If you’re in the area tomorrow (April 12th), come and visit the campus on Cal Day and get a free view from the top of the tower.
Sometimes the best urban sketch is right in your own backyard, or neighborhood park. For me, this is Terrace Park, now known as Jewel’s Terrace Park in honor of Jewel Okawachi, a dedicated mother, board member and leader in the Albany community.
These homes sit on the eastern edge of the park. On any given sunny afternoon, one can enjoy the color, textures and shadows of their exteriors along the fence. As my son rode his bike round and around the park path, and played with kids who came in an out of the frame, I felt at ease, as if I was in my own back yard.
I was in the best of both worlds this evening, sketching while surrounded by books. I got to hang out and sketch with SF Bay Area Urban Sketchers who met at Diesel, A Bookstore. They’re a great group of artists that meet once a month and draw on location in honor of the Urban Sketchers manifesto. Check out their Facebook group or, if you’re not in the SF Bay Area, find one near you and save the next urban sketching meet-up in your calendar.
I have to admit, I was both excited and nervous about sketching this famous UC landmark. I didn’t feel worthy. Sather Gate was built in 1910 in memory of Peder Sather, a benefactor of the University. If it could speak, I imagine it could recall the events of the Free Speech Movement, the songs of graduates passing underneath it and the director’s yelling “Cut!” from the movies filmed under its arches.
I don’t always pass by it as I walk though the campus, but when I do, I have to pause and study it. On this particular occasion, it was the end of Spring Break and no students were around, not that it mattered to me. ;-) I hope to sketch it again from a different perspective. I often wonder if they know what a true rite of passage they’re experiencing while attending the University. When the students walk through it, taking their selfies in front of it, observing its awkward copper corrosion from the corner of their eyes, are they truly aware of it.
The College of Chemistry is close to my office and has an inner elevated courtyard that offers a secluded vantage point from which one can see and hear all the activity below while remaining virtually unnoticed. It was mid-term week and the students were hurrying in and out of the buildings to study groups, cafes and more classes. I overheard bits of conversations that represented the social mosaic of student life. One girl cried out, ”I’m so not prepared for this test.” Another, whom I could not see, but could discern that he was on his phone, was making plans for a week of partying on the beach. There were also several conversations in Spanish, Mandarin and Russian.
South Hall Road, Univ. of California, Berkeley – March 18, 2014. I tried to find a place that allowed me to sketch the campus tower and the students at the same time. The long cement bench facing South Hall Road was a good compromise. I was able to get the lower half of the tower and Le Conte Hall as well as a sprinkling of students reading, studying and conversing in the mid-day sun.