At the southwest corner of the North Basin, standing with his back to the water and eyeballing the trees, stood Pete Najarian, a plein air painter with his easel. When we started chatting, I wondered what he could do with this scene. To my eyes it looked like a wall of dark trees in the shade, half hidden by a parking lot, with the hotel behind it. Not interesting, even depressing. When I returned to his spot about an hour later, his artboard showed an almost garden-like forest glen. It was like the BeautyFace app used on scenery. Better. Well, why not?
Najarian is a painter of renown, with a number of exhibitions to his credit, including a local one at the Berkeley Public Library, main branch, in 2014. He is also a writer, with seven “nonfiction novels” to his credit.
He told me he’s been painting in and around the Marina off and on for twenty years or so. He fondly remembers roaming around the Berkeley Meadow, now the Sylvia McLaughlin Eastshore State Park, before it was overhauled and fenced in. He does not like the fence and he does not like what the East Bay Regional Park management has done with the Meadow. He got me wondering whether the fenced-in design was the end of the Meadow’s history or whether it was a transition to a different land use plan. I will try to find out.