Architecture and Urban Planning, Artists, Urban Sketching

I found this wonderful piece in the historic conservatory of the One Sansome Street building in the heart of the San Francisco financial district.  It is one of the many pieces by Stirling Calder (Alexander) created for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition.

The Star Girl - Stirling Calder (Alexander)

The Star Girl

Architecture and Urban Planning, Urban Sketching

Just a quick lunch time sketch in front of the Valley Life Sciences Building (read more about the history of the building here).  It’s a little slow on campus right now due to it being finals week.  I chose this spot because of the shade more than anything else, but I was able to catch a few students coming and going from where I sat.

UC Berkeley Valley Life Sciences Building


Photo and Sketch

Lunch time sketch – Valley Life Sciences Building

Architecture and Urban Planning, Culture and Religion, Urban Sketching

So my local SF Bay Area Urban Sketchers group met up at the Cathedral of Christ the Light (Lake Merritt – Oakland, CA) on May 1st.  I’m not a practicing Muslim, but I couldn’t help but think, “this should be interesting.”  Let’s face it when you’re looking for stunning works of religious architecture in the US, it’s not going to be a mosque.  But who knows what’s in store for future generations?  Perhaps our children or their children will be sketching in spaces where architecture and spirituality come together in ways that are beyond our imagination.  All that aside, I have to say that I found myself in peaceful bliss as I sketched the body of Jesus as I sat in the pews of the Cathedral of Christ the Light.  The moment made me pause and wonder why my mother left Christianity and chose Islam when I was a child.  In the midst of my feelings of bliss and spiritual thoughts, I found myself awkwardly looking up at the image of Christ.  I realized I was sitting in a spot that none of the other sketchers chose.  Perhaps because the perspective felt awkward, a little like an IMAX film.  But I didn’t want to move.  I wanted to try and make it work.  I remembered that I saw a couple of other sketchers turn their sketchbooks at a 45 degree angle so that they could capture the as much of the horizontal and vertical views as possible.  Here’s my attempt.



Mohammed sketching Jesus

Architecture and Urban Planning, Urban Sketching

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.

Sather Gate Sketch


Sather Gate and Sketchbook

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.

Sather Gate

Architecture and Urban Planning, Urban Sketching

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.

College of Chemistry

Berkeley Means Chemistry

Advertising, Architecture and Urban Planning, Artists, Street Art

Take Back Your Public Space – Street Advertising Takeover Hits Madrid

MaSAT - I notice the brain of the crazy monkey making ice cubes with a flowing river... I notice how this dream is too real for me.

MaSAT – I notice the brain of the crazy monkey making ice cubes with a flowing river… I notice how this dream is too real for me.

Madrid in early Spring is a beautiful place.  However, on the morning of March 30th, a group of over 100 artists decided to do some Spring cleaning of their own around the cities bus shelters.  It was a cleansing of the mind so to speak.  Armed with nothing other than T wrenches and  posters, the members of the MaSAT (Madrid Street Advertising Takeover) project replaced over 100 signs in less than an hour.

The MaSAT project is the third a series of civil disobedience projects inspired by the vision of the Public AdCampaign, a group whose mission is to take back the visual space

Toronto SAT- Stop Thinking Now

that belongs to communities from the hands of outdoor advertising.  The group sent an “open call to a list of artists, sociologists, teachers, lawyers, gallerists, bloggers, and other individuals who think deeply about what it means to have an open public environment.” They sent their submission

NYSAT - Delete

s in several languages with the rule that they must be anonymous and not affiliate the submission with any logo, or website [see MaSAT about page].

The Public AdCampaign has led street advertising takeovers in New York, Toronto and Madrid.  They accept proposals for new projects and offer start up funds for those that engage a wide public audience while critically discussing issues surrounding outdoor advertising.

(Thanks to Paz Alejandra Melendez-Canales for translating the Spanish)