Into the Breach Craft on Display

Albany Bulb, Albany, CA

Albany Bulb is a decommissioned landfill with million dollar views that sits on a scruffy spit of land that juts out into the water and is a great place to watch the sun set. The Bulb is popular with dog walkers and parents with little children who dart in and out of a motley collection of art, mostly made from driftwood and trash.

To get there, I meandered down a long dirt path, trailing my fingers through fennel and staining them yellow. Bit by bit, there is art. Rope swings hang from trees over the mudflats at the water’s edge, crooked benches are made out of wood and rebar, mosaics are mortared onto rocks and chunks of broken concrete, sticks are woven into uneven sculptures, and almost everything is painted. There’s a small shrine at the base of a tree with a mirror and a golden Buddha and tiny toy offerings. There’s a slightly overgrown labyrinth in the grass, and a 10 foot tall driftwood dragon, or maybe it’s a dog, near a pirate ship adorned with old painted signs, climbing rope, and chipped teacups. For some reason there are a lot of muffin tins here as well. The graffiti is not your typical urban tag but more likely to be wishes for peace and love, painted by children. It's a permissive place, a place where I mostly heard the water lapping at the shore, dogs rustling through the brush, and kids in strollers asking for snacks.

The Bay area has a long history of found art in and near the bay. With encroaching development, the footprint of public art gets smaller and smaller but Albany seems proud of what surreptitiously shows up at the Bulb, and I think it’s here to stay. I’ve attended birthday parties here and renegade dance parties to memorialize a friend’s passing. I’m grateful this still exists and is truly open to everyone. This impromptu art museum is always evolving; there’s a permanent collection — semi-permanent — and new exhibits, but time, people, and the weather do their best to keep it fresh.