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Monday, July 29, 2013

Emeryville Planning Director Doubles as Artist

Charlie Bryant, Artist

Interesting but his work is a bit derivative   

Opinion/Art Criticism
Charles Bryant
Emeryville Surrealist

"Ceci n'est pas un arbre"
"This is Not a Tree"  2013
Who could have guessed our own Planning Director, Charlie Bryant, would emerge as an appropriationalist artist of the surrealist genre?
Art lovers at last Thursday night's Planning Commission were treated to a Charlie Bryant premier, an original art work he unveiled from his dais he calls "This is Not a Tree", a semantic flight of fancy homage to the well known 20th century Belgian surrealist, Rene Magritte.  But whereas Magritte's seminal 1929 work, 'This is not a pipe' is oil on canvas, Mr Bryant's 2013 piece is purely conceptual in nature.

"Upright Bushes"
Rene Magritte
Belgian Surrealist
"This is not a pipe" 1929
Charlie unveiled his would be demuirgic conceptual art during his normal day-to-day work of city planning in Emeryville, in this case at the July 25th Planning Commission meeting. As the Emery School District was presenting their application for the contentious Center of 'Community' Life project, one permit dealt with the cutting down of all the existing trees on 47th  Street.  Since Emeryville has an Urban Forestry Ordinance and permission must be sought to cut down trees, Mr Bryant stepped in to reassure any tree loving Commissioners that the decision before them wasn't as dire as it seemed, "They're not really even trees [on 47th Street],  they're more like upright bushes" he told them.

As Michel Foucault, the late French post-structuralist philosopher and social theorist reminds us in his dissertations regarding Magritte; this work is a rhetorical gestalt, a 'sign symbol' that forces the viewer to confront seemingly nihilistic linguistic and semiotic ambiguities.  The appropriated phenomenological asymptotic epistemologies inherent in Mr Bryant's work can be seen as less than seminal in this regard.
His 'tree period' really amounts to nothing more than a cheap rehash of 85 year old ideas.

Perhaps Emeryville residents should see this as it really is: less art (or even city planning) and more deceitful cheapening of the public commons.
This is really not a tree


  1. this is about the funniest article donahue has written but "upright bush?" did mr. bryant perhaps take a semantics class with s.i. hayakawa?

  2. Oh Brian, you’re such a kidder! Taking things out of context as usual. Now, if you had been paying attention, you would have known that I wasn’t talking about the Trident Maple in your picture. I specifically said I was talking about the Australian Brush Cherries in the middle of the block, in front of the school on 47th Street. Just go to Google Street View and look at them. Surely even you wouldn’t disagree with my characterization of these as “upright bushes”?

    1. Uh oh...the Planning Director (who says he doesn't read the Tattler) says the 25 foot tall tree in the photo is the wrong tree. Even though the photo depicts one of the trees that will be killed for the Center of 'Community' Life project (every tree on 47th Street), apparently it's not the tree Mr Bryant was talking about when he used the term "upright bushes". Those trees, Australian Brush Cherries (Eugenia Syzygium paniculatum, Family Myrtaceae) grow to a height of 30 to 50 feet...approximately double the height of the tree in the photo. So we apologize for showing such a short tree in the photo, we should have shown a 50 foot tall tree.
      Surely even you wouldn't disagree that 50 feet is upright...very upright.

      Thanks for coming back to the Tattler, Charlie. We've always had the feeling your public claims of not being a reader were based on something not very upright.

  3. There is no (tree) there there.

    Look what happened on West Powell when all the trees were taken down--nothing and nothingness.

  4. I thought we already had a poet laureate. this is getting interesting.

    i'm still laughing and you know laughter does not come easily with me.

    no, brian, that was patrick o'keeffe who said he didn't read the tattler. good to hear from you charlie.

    p.s. what is a post structural philosopher. is that like a structural engineer but one who philosophizes?

    1. Patrick never read the Tattler and neither does Charlie Bryant. None of the managers at City Hall read it. Nobody reads it at the School District, especially the School Board and three of the five City Council members don't read the Tattler. And that's why all these people in positions of authority in Emeryville are so angry with the Tattler: because they don't read it.

  5. You're quite an expert on trees, aren't you? Go back and read my comment again. I'm not talking about 50 foot trees. The "upright bushes" on 47th Street can't be more than about 6 feet tall, and they've been pruned to the "lollipop" shape that you detest so much. You really like those trees? The Planning Commission didn't seem to think they were worth saving. You didn't mention that.

    I would say that your "journalism" is not very upright.

    1. I'm not an expert on trees but the University of California 's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources is. That's the source of my info on Eugenia Syzygium paniculatum.
      The point here is that the School District has been severely PRUNING those trees you mention. Stop pruning them and they'll grow into 50 foot tall trees. Since the School District has in fact stopped pruning them, they're starting to grow, almost doubling their height already. Are you going to advocate cutting down a tree because it's too short because the applicant has been pruning it that way? Ever read Catch 22 Charlie? People want trees here in Emeryville. And they want objective analysis coming from the Staff, not subjective direction with a hidden agenda. Is this city planning? Or something else?

    2. Here, here!!

  6. Un saucier a tabat, c'est degoutant.

  7. Hey Moe (our city attorney), what do you think, is this a tree or a bush. “Dongk, Bang, Slap” You dummy, Curly (our planning director), I can make it anything you want it to be. “yak yak yak”. Hey, where’s Larry (our previous city manager), he’ll know what to do. Ah that knucklehead is over in Albany building a development and slapping around a few protesters. I heard they needed someone to fill in for their city manager who’s not afraid to bend a few rules. Yeah, I’ll show you…bend over. “Yak Yac Yac”.