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Giant tea cozy stirs protest

UPI News Service, 05/31/2010 

Saying they acted on a famous quip about Oakland, Calif., as having "no there there," artists knitted a large tea cozy to cover a "T" on a public sculpture.

The sculpture near the Berkeley-Oakland border depicts two 8-foot-tall words in steel facing each other: "Here" and There." Gertrude Stein once famously remarked on her Oakland hometown, after being asked what it was like there, that there was "no there there," the San Francisco Chronicle reported Monday.

The work was commissioned by the city of Berkeley, but some Oakland residents find it patronizing.

Deciding to make a point, about 20 knitters created a giant tea cozy to put over the "T" so both halves would read "Here."

"It seemed kind of surprising for a city supposedly as progressive as Berkeley to put up a sculpture as divisive as 'Here' and 'There,'" said Emily Jan, an art student. "A lot of us from Oakland look at that sign and think, 'For real? We're 'There'? OK, fine."

Berkeley city officials were not amused by the tea cozy, and ordered it removed.

"Berkeley's become more and more conservative than it used to be, especially about art," resident Irv Staats said.

Knitters encamped with lawn chairs and their knitting projects along the border Sunday to protest the order, the Chronicle said.

"It brings a smile to people's faces," Sile Convery said. "People seem to love the slightly subversive, fun, creative quality to it. It seems to bring people together."

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