Sunday, September 15, 2019

Emeryville’s mudflat art, May 1977

The sculptures started going up in 1960, when a class from the California College of Arts & Crafts set out to build something from the driftwood on Bay Farm Island, near the Oakland Airport.

“The first derelict sculpture expedition set out on a Saturday morning in 1960, armed with what were considered necessary tools: hammers, saws, hatchets, ropes, a bagful of various-sized nails and several cases of beer,” William Jackson wrote in The Chronicle on Feb. 7, 1965.

two years later, California College of Arts & Crafts student John McCracken saw photos of the expedition.

“The pictures really excited me ... turned me on!” he told Jackson. “I wanted to try something like it, and I knew just the place, the Emeryville mudflats.”

A decade later, in 1998, the derelict art gallery reached the end of its run — and the mudflats would get more thorough cleaning.

Caltrans used a helicopter to haul out 80 dumpsters worth of trash from the mudflats — plastic and glass bottles, rotting wood ties, creosote-soaked utility poles, a number of grocery carts — along with the remnants of dilapidated driftwood art.

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