Endless Canvas' SPECIAL DELIVERY East Bay Art Exhibit Was Great While It Lasted

Posted by Billyjam, October 1, 2012 05:35pm | Post a Comment

If one dollar had been donated for every photo taken at the Berkeley warehouse street art exhibit Endless Canvas' SPECIAL DELIVERY enough money could have been generated to purchase the warehouse building that housed this wonderful, temporary grassroots art exhibit and to keep it open indefinitely - not just in pop-up form. The exhibit ended its all-too-short 3 weekend run yesterday with another extremely well attended day of photo-happy street art fans. For many the temporary nature of SPECIAL DELIVERY  only added to the vibrancy of this exhibit of revered but disposable art - and another reason to document it.

I stopped by yesterday - Sunday September 30th, the sixth and final day - to be simply blown away by the wonderful art on display. About a 100 pieces by such local artists as Swampy and Plant Trees graced near every available corner of this cavernous, two-level 36,000 square-foot abandoned warehouse space down on Fourth Street near Gilman.

Anyone I know who attended this event, like David Ford who worked at it or E-Lit from Amoeba Berkeley who patiently lined up on the very packed opening weekend three weeks ago, were equally impressed by SPECIAL DELIVERY - from the caliber of the art on display to the perfect location of the exhibit. Berkeley's Carbon Warehouse – down near the railway tracks at 1350 4th Street - is a funky and raw building with only natural light. (Hence the darkened, shadowy, shuttered downstairs art area takes a minute for your eyes to adjust to).

Endless Canvas' SPECIAL DELIVERY was street art presented as it should be: in as close to its natural form as an exhibition space could allow.  It was also fitting this spray can art event should be held in a former ink factory.

But best of all though was the Endless Canvas event's photo-friendly environment encouraging folks to capture in digital image this temporary art event that would soon be transformed into permanent office space. Everyone was taking photos even lil kids with iPhones. It was great!  If you do an "Endless Canvas Special Delivery" Google image search  and just under half a million pics will pop up.

"They got the space after the owner of the building went to a graffiti art exhibit and decided to have his place painted before sandblasting. [Then] Endless Canvas reached out to 100 of the best artists they could find and started painting about four months ago. The owner gave them complete control, no liability!," said David Ford  who worked the event, citing the Huffington Post's review of the exhibit as the most accurate, "When they said it was the Sistine Chapel of graffiti. Everyday I was there I found a new piece to stare at, it was the greatest art exhibit I've ever seen!" 

For Ford and all else involved the whole event was a labor of love. There was no admission charged but donations of whatever size requested. Despite the positivity of the event the media latched onto the incidents of tagging in the warehouse's immediate neighborhood that took place on opening night. Odds are if a few thousand graffiti fans show up - someone will have an aerosol can or a Sharpie in their pocket. "After the big opening night Endless Canvas went $5,000 in debt cleaning the streets in the neighboring vicinity, I was talking to Paul, the head of the showing, yesterday about how many people were there that first night and we estimated at least 4,000 people came out," said Ford adding of closing day "Just yesterday there were over 1,000 that came through."

Last week on a weekday when it was closed to the public Oakland hip-hop group Zion I captured the temporary art space on video by shooting a music video for the title track off their brand new Shadow Boxing album that gets released tomorrow (Oct 2nd). "They had trained ninjas for the theme that were going wild in there doing all kinds of crazy moves for hours," laughed Ford of the Zion I shoot. "Zumbi told me 'This is what Berkeley is about. We had to do a shoot here!'"

Turns out that Zion I weren't the only hip-hop crew wise enough to take advantage of SPECIAL DELIVERY as the ideal music video backdrop. "The Park (Candlespit Collective)'s new video for "Rattle Bap" was shot there too," reported E-Lit from Amoeba Berkeley who stopped by SPECIAL DELIVERY twice.

It's too bad the art exhibit is over. "SPECIAL DELIVERY 2012 was the shit! More warehouse owners should look at this and think hard about what they're doing with their empty buildings," said Ford as if reading my mind.

Relevant Tags

Berkeley (28), Art (93), Special Delivery (2), Endless Canvas (1), Carbon Warehouse (1), Zion I (29), The Park (1), Graffiti (52), Candlespit Collective (1), Zumbi (4)