When I first arrived at UC Berkeley in 1997, I entered from one of the most unlikely entrances on campus, the steps on Bancroft Way that led me to the Hearst Gymnasium and Barrows Hall. A few days ago, I decided to return to those steps and just look back at the street and observe the activity. Not much has changed. The facades of the retail shops remain unchanged. The flower vendor left a few years ago and a “For Lease” sign sits in his place. A “Street Spirit” vendor found some shade on the bench where the flowers were once sold and offered his newspapers to passers by. I sat down on the steps next to one of the classical revival urns that surrounded the Hearst Gymnasium. I sketched as the urn’s lion gargoyle gazed out onto the street almost in a protective manner over the “Street Spirit” vendor.
I took this photo on a trip to France in 2004. I thought I took a color version as well, but when I returned home, I couldn’t find one. Now, ten years later, I find myself obsessively wanting to remember the place in color as I had experienced it. So I did the next best thing, I painted it in color as I remembered it.