Ruin Porn or Art Gallery?

The old Carbon Warehouse on the west side of Fourth Street in Berkely, CA continues in its abandoned and decaying state. We were fortunate to get permission from its current owners to spend a day photographing the interior of the building. The images vary from documentary, through eerie to surreal.

Starting sometime between 1900 and 1903, The California Ink Company (later, Flint Ink) maintained a large industrial complex in Berkeley, California on Fourth Street between Gilman and Camelia. The plant was shuttered in September 2004 and stood abandoned until Orton Development purchased it in 2009. Orton restored the buildings on the east side of Fourth Street and they are now rented to a winery, and solar company and other tenants. You can read more about it on the Berkeley Architectual Heritage Association website and in this article from the Contra Costa Times.

But the story of the Carbon Warehouse does not end there. The owner of the building is a member of the Board of Directors of the Oakland Museum of California. He noticed that some of the graffiti in the Carbon Warehouse was created by the same artists whose work was on display in the museum. As a result in 2012 he invited Endless Canvas, an organization that publishes photos and articles on street art, to arrange for graffiti artists to paint the entire 36,000 square foot, three-story warehouse. More about the project here. The final result opened as an exhibit “Special Delivery” on September 8th and continued through September 30, 2012. I was, frankly, shocked by the quality of the artworks. Much could easily qualify for display in a more traditional museum. Unfortunately, many of the pieces had deteriorated by the time I was photographing the site in November 2014, but I still came away with a new appreciation of graffiti as an art form and respect for the artists that practice it.

Entrance to the gallery
Entrance to the gallery
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