A note to Albany Bulb artists: If your work appears in the gallery below, please feel free to contact me so that I can properly attribute the images. I was unable to locate specific information about individual pieces.
The Albany Bulb — long my favorite Bay Area example of decay and rebirth — is an artificial peninsula, created from years of dumping construction refuse into this part of the Bay. When the dumping stopped, nature took over. The area is now habitat for a variety of wildlife, birds and shorebirds of all varieties, a brilliant infusion of haphazard plants . . . as well as a culture of guerilla art pieces (many created by a Berkeley art collective known as SNIFF).
The Bulb has been at the center of controversy for years in terms of how it ought to remain or be developed. And its future as this overgrown industrial-jungle state is uncertain. I just read a moving homage to the Albany Bulb by photographer and writer Jill Posener — a piece that says removal of the art works is slowly underway in an effort to fit the Bulb into a more conformist version of a park. Posener writes:
I once said to a good friend that when the Landfill is taken by the forces of conformity, I would leave this area. Native plants (what exactly is native to a landfill) are meant to replace the palms, the roses, the vines, the fruit trees and the lone eucalypt on the Bulb, the art has long been deemed ‘unsuitable for a family park’ and the dogs – like the art – will be leashed, forever.
More often than not, I’m a proponent of protected spaces for wildlife and green things — mostly because I see so much disregard for wildlife and habitat when it’s not protected.
But I’m in sync with Jill’s sentiments about the Albany Bulb. This was land relegated to waste. It’s a structure born of the worst type of human disregard, the same mindset that’s spilled tons of hazardous waste into the oceans and buried toxic ooze in rusty drums under the soil. Solution by dilution, dumping wherever we saw fit.
Here, nature had a chance only by virtue of the humans leaving. And nature worked hard, squeezing life from this mess, growing a tangle of roots and vines and fennel stalks that creep from every chunk of rebar and cement tossed into the Bay.
The juxtaposition is at once awesome and emotional. It speaks to a triumph we don’t see often enough: and that is, nature’s forces, when given a chance, can resuscitate from our refuse, a world of organic possibility. And people, unleashing their benevolent creativity can create harmony in modernity’s discards.
The photos throughout this post are from my various visits to the Albany Bulb . . . hoping these visuals are not soon relegated to artifact and history.
Below is a gallery of images I’ve taken at the Bulb
Also . . . check out this video done several years ago on Osha Neumann & Jason DeAntonis, artists (father-in-law/son-in-law) responsible for “Water Lady” among many other sculptures at the Bulb.