Moss in the City II

This image is the most popular of the Moss in the City photos. You are seeing a small metal cover 5-6 inches across on a driveway on Masonic at Brighton in Albany, CA.

Moss in the City

This photo reminds me of the abstract paintings of Catalan artist Antoni Tàpies. I lived in Barcelona, Spain when I was 20 (1985) and Tàpies’s work was very popular. He creates elegant, enthralling compositions inspired by graffiti and the city.


Cute Moss Rocks

Moss Rocks
Moss Rocks by David Spain at Moss and Stone Gardens

I think these moss rocks are more elegant than cute, but its their cuteness that makes me want one on my desk. Leave aside the fact that I’m totally bias with anything to do with moss, these are among the loveliest objects I have ever seen. What do I love? The bright colors, smooth surface, off center orientation, old / new quality of the glaze…the shine says new and the crackling says old. Last but not least the soft, green moss gracing the top.

Now you all know what to get me for Christmas but on the other hand all my crafty family members will know what they’ll receive.

Designed by David Spain, co-owner of Moss and Stone Gardens – “Where Moss Rocks!” Just in case you want one of these for your own, they are sold with the moss pre-planted, can be safely shipped with no harm to the Dicranum moss plant. Can be placed indoors or out and requires little maintenance.

The Moss Rocks online store opened yesterday. You can be among the first to purchase and you are supporting a unique product from a small business.

Moss in the City

Quite a while back I started a photo project called “One Mile Squared” that focused on wandering in proximity to my house and looking for cool subject matter. Those photos included a neighbor’s yard that was full of assembled driftwood, another house that has abundance of perfectly round hedges in rows, a rose bush as big as a house, old fences, and a car bed on San Pablo Avenue full of 4 foot tall letters. Yes, this was the project conceived by a mom with small kids who was walking to and from school and like places. A project I could do using what I saw on ordinary days.

Clumpy Moss Photo
"Brick and Clumpy Moss," Cedar Avenue, West Berkeley 2006

Two things happened as I was working on this One Mile Squared photo project. One tragic and one happy coincidence.

A new Rotarian friend of mine, Paul Rogers and his wife Julie, were murdered in their home by Julie’s brother. They had three children, the youngest of whom was home when the murder took place. It should be said that Paul and Julie were very well liked and deeply involved in their community. Julie’s brother is/was most likely mentally ill and was convinced of the crime.

Moss Photos
"24 Bricks and Moss," Cedar Avenue, West Berkeley, 2006

The Rogers’ tragedy caused me to take more pictures and push myself to find more time for art. Since I’d had children I’d been telling myself “Life is Long”, –you are going to live a long time Karen, so you’ll have time for art later. I realized sometimes it doesn’t work out the way and there is no certainty.

The happy coincidence is that this same year we got a ton of rain, and I discovered beautiful moss growing on the sidewalks of my town. On days that the sun came out right after a good rain, I’d be out with my camera looking to capture the moss before it dried up and disappeared again. These because the Moss in the City Series.

Moss Photos
"Infinite Bricks and Moss," Cedar Avenue, West Bekeley, CA 2006


These photos were exhibited at the Albany Arts Gallery and the Velvet Moss Gallery in 2008.

My First MOSS Photos were of–LICHEN

Lichen & Moss Trees
Lichen Covered Trees Stanislaus National Forest

My interest in photographing moss began several years ago when I spent some time on my own at a trailhead in the Stanislaus National Forest. My family and I and my husband’s brothers and their families were vacationing in the vicinity of Pinecrest as we do most Thanksgivings. My young son had fallen asleep in the car and I decided to hang around the car so he could sleep while the others went to look for a sledding spot.

There was snow on the ground and I was walking around when I noticed these bright green Dr. Suess-like-rings on many trees. There were a large number of trees on the snowy landscape next to the parking lot. Each tree had identical concentric circles of chartreuse lichen and the snow greatly highlighted the color. (Moss and Lichen are closely related.)

Lichen Ringed Trees

I’d never seen this formation before though I’ve noticed it a handful of times since but with the snow the rings were more visible and beautiful. I haven’t stopped wondering what makes this cool rings. My best guess is it has to do with the way the snow melts off the trees.

Close Up of Lichen Ringed Trees
Close Up of Lichen Ringed Trees

I used my point & shoot camera to take photos that day. It’s not pro equipment but this camera always took great photos. Emotionally, I know these lichen photos to be the inspiration for what became my moss project. The project seems to be about nature authentically observed but including a quirky or unexpected angle.  Dr. Suess and Andy Goldworthy rolled into one.