Thursday, May 22, 2008

More on Bill Silveira - Jingletown Junk Artist

Jingletown is the very definition of the urban jungle: artists and businesses mixing and mingling and fighting for a piece of the American pie... fighting gentrification and homogenization and gangs and poverty and encroaching development...artists fighting the odds for their art!
But I discovered a unique place today: Automania - an urban oasis of outsider art created by a man named Bill Silveira.Today I had the unique opportunity to see his place of business and I was awestruck. While strolling around Jingletown it's hard not to notice a HUGE building
with strangely crafted window grates and unique signage.
Look up and you'll see old cars...but not just junkers. These beauties were once considered the cream of the crop.Keep walking and you'll find fronts of old cars used as planters and the hoods of police cruisers turned into awnings. Everywhere are address signs made out of rusted metal
and crowbars used in place of razor wire.
And at every turn there is a sense of humor and artistry that one hopes to find in a
hardscrabble artist's community like Jingletown.
You have to ask yourself: who's responsible for all this metalwork?
Bill Silveira is the artist behind it all.
He bought this huge building in 1992. It was dilapidated and abandoned and
had been on the market for
almost two years. He saw it's potential, though, and for
16 years it has housed his business - Automania.
Bill buys junker vehicles and either fixes them up in his cavernous garage or
strips them down in his outdoor work
space and sells them
for parts or scrap metal.
His garage is nirvana if you're a car lover. He has hubcaps, taillights, fins, headlights, bumpers and all other kinds of chrome automobile "things" from every decade hanging from the rafters and on every shelf. Anyone who acknowledges the American love affair with cars would be agape at this
collection and a real car lover would want to live
He rents this treasure trove out as props for movies, tv shows and advertisements.
Automania's outdoor space is where Bill strips the vehicles down for scrap
or parts or scavenges pieces for his art projects.
loved the twisted and rusted junk metal and the skeletons of ancient vehicles
but what caught my eye and imagination was the large wooden boat
about 20 feet overhead. Bill had scavenged it recently from the estuary which is only
a few feet from his shop. That boat is just beautiful if you ask me!
And that's not all, folks. Bill also has a respect for the place that the automobile holds in America's hearts and folklore. With that in mind he showed me his collection of vintage auto shop packaging and signage.Adjacent to his garage and workshop he has created an art space that perfectly recreates the look and feel of an old-time mechanic's garage. I felt I had stepped back in time to when my grandfather would take me to his mechanic with him. These rooms are made out of found windows and wood and sport barber poles and old-time metal chairs. Every shelf is filled with vintage signage and packaging of everything from motor oil to Roytan cigars. There was even a glass jar of plastic cars to be given away to the kids while they waited with their Dads. And dare I say I spied some vintage pin-up girl calendars to round out the experience. Bill mentioned that the Nash Bridges tv show had filmed an episode there. No surprise at all to me! His recreation of a garage looks like a movie set. Everyone knows that fixing cars is thirsty work, so Bill has created another environment within his walls. Under a small grove of redwoods he has created a "campground" - complete with a bar and 1953 Spartanette Tandem silver trailer he retrieved from Oregon.
Bill is also a self-described garage sale hound and sometime dumpster diver with great taste! Across the open
expanse of rusted metal and old cars is his living area. Again with his artfully arranged junk Bill has created several environments. One area has an outdoor shower while the other has a metal patio table and chairs -- with the butt-end of a van used as a planter. Every inch of wall space is filled with old graphics, found objects and things that others might describe as junk. But Bill has masterfully arranged them to create a feast for the eye. His own art is filled with humor and employs -
you guessed it - welding, metal and rust!
He has created a sculpture out of old vacuum cleaners and has made Mad Max-style wind machines that actually spin in the breeze. Bill likes to describe himself as a curmudgeon. But he has three dogs and two cats so he must be pretty soft-hearted really. Unfortunately just a few days ago his beloved 12 year old Rottweiller, Bubba, had to be put down. In Bill's word's "he was a great dog and he will be missed."Many thanks to Bill for letting me into his amazing art space in Jingletown.
You can see a few of his welded sculptures at the 420 Gallery during
Jingletown Open Studios June 7, 8 and 14, 15.
You can contact Bill at And check out his website Automania

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mosaic Butterflies

I just did my first installation in a long time. I had forgotten how much fun it is. The day was hot and sunny and I was dirty and sweaty. I love working under those conditions! My hands are all cut up from working with the glass and still stained midnight blue from the grout.
I have a 70 foot long cement wall that runs the length of my backyard. The cement is lumpy and bumpy and was poorly made from the beginning. I have wanted to mosaic it but it always looked like it would be a tremendous investment in time and materials. Also, I like working in glass and I just couldnt see a way to directly mosaic onto that wall. So I came up with a plan. I decided to cut individual pieces out of Hardiboard, mosaic them in my shop and then cement them to the wall - leaving only the grouting to be done on site. I don't know if this is simply reinventing the wheel and millions of people do it this way every day but for me it was an experiment.
I figured: what the heck,
it's my wall!Here is a picture of the wall. This isnt even half of it but you may be able to see the roughness of it. I had to use a very thick coating of Thinset in places to make the work area as flat as possible. Again, maybe it isn't kosher to use Thinset in a place where traditional cement would be used but Thinset IS pretty cement-like so I figured why not. Here is the first butterfly stuck to the wall. You can see the chalk outlines I did to get an idea how they would fit next to each other. It was somewhat messy looking because I had used white Thinset and it stood out like a sore thumb. Not good. I bought grey Thinset for the next butterfly and "painted" over the white that showed around the first one too. Much better. This picture shows the length I had to go to keep the second butterfly in place! Tape and plywood wedged against it for hours did the trick pretty well.Here they are drying.And here they are finished. Not perfect by a long shot but I guarantee I will become perfect! I had been so nervous to try this because once it's done, it's immovable! But I had totally forgotten how much fun it is! I am working on a frog to go on the wall next and have all kinds of ideas for more pieces. I'll keep you posted.


This mosaic frog was meant to be adhered to the same cement wall out back as the butterflies but he turned out to be too large. So I rigged him to hang on the front of my house. He is cut out of Hardiboard, and is adorned with marbles, mirrored glass and stained glass. He's pretty cute.

36" x 23"

Friday, May 9, 2008


My newest mosaic is called "Love"
It's on the small side - 12" x 40" -
and is made with mirrored glass and
stained glass.

The substrate is 1/2" plywood.

Price: $450.
If there is enough room on the walls I will be displaying this piece, Mardi Gras,
Glamour, Ta-Daaa and First Glance
420 Gallery during Jingletown's Open Studios
this June 7, 8, 14 & 15. Check older posts here
to get a look at these pieces.
Stop by if you're in the neighborhood and introduce yourselves!.
Check out Jingletown's website for more info.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

My Batman Trading Cards, Part 1

One of my prized possessions is my collection of
Batman trading cards from the 1960s.

I know, I know, I'm a grown woman - whatever! I love this art!
The colors are vibrant and the action is detailed.
With the new Batman movie due out soon I thought I would share these with you.
I don't really care for the darker and more violent and troubled Batman
we are shown in the recent movies.
I like the old Batman television show
because it had comic-book action for the kids and

tongue-in-cheek humor for the parents. It didn't take itself or the genre too seriously.
I don't have the full set of these, I have 63 of these cards - the set is 55 - but
some of mine are repeats.
I hope you enjoy these. I do!
These cards are Copywrite 1966 National Periodical Publications, Inc.

"So Bored"

Poor little rich harem bored!

"So Bored"
24" x 18"
Acrylic wash and colored pencil

My Batman Trading Cards: The Criminals

Here are some of Batman and Robin's arch enemies and the bone-crunching sounds of their defeat.