Then There was No Moss

Moss & Shoes
Moss Curve and Two Shoes; Cornell & Washington, Albany, CA

A situation arose in my neighborhood recently involving the removal of a mossy specimen I’d been photographing. There is this one spot I’ve been really keen on. (Said with a fake British accent.) For one reason or another, I’d been photographing it over and over — over 3 years.

I did get this photo recently –though the moss is on the dried on side and not brilliant green as I’d like. I went back about a week later, after a good rainy day expecting to see more moss. However, there was less moss.

I’m pretty certain the homeowner scraped it away. I might have put that moss at risk by calling attention to it. Must be more careful.

Like What You Like – An Artist’s Tip

Let me explain what I love about this photo. I love most anything fuzzy. I love the bulges of protruding pom-pom like fuzzy moss. Above and below is a different plant that I think is Spanish moss. It has tiny dot-like leaf. Finally, the chain link fence.

A straight up nature shot isn’t interesting to me anymore. Well, OK. I do take some straight up nature shots. I can admire and appreciate an Ansel Adams shot. They are brilliant. But they also seem part of the past. (Continued below.)

mossy wall at Tilden Botanical Garden

Moss and Chain Link Fence Tilden Botanical Garden


In my mind, the chain link stands for contrast. Or human kind’s intrusion. Or nature’s imprisonment and encirclement by humans. Oh, I’m sounding like a 10th grade English class. I’ll stop.

So moss and chain link fences are what I like, and I can accept it might be unappealing or esoteric. As a younger person I tried to be true to my aesthetic but I also found I really wanted to make things others would like. As an older person, I know it doesn’t work to try to make things others will like.

It’s great to make things for particular people. That can work well for the creative process. Imagine your friend, lover, child, mother, father or other dear person in front of you and create something for them. As does making things for yourself.

But making things that you think others will find cool, intriguing, beautiful etc. doesn’t work. I can’t prove it to you. I’m just saying that’s been my experience and what I’ve heard other artists say.

Little Mosses Growing by The Parking Lot

I woke up this morning thinking about how sometimes I like to include cars, sewers, chain link fences and other made things in my photos. I guess I think of it as true to the real status of nature as barely co-existing or at the mercy of our human encroachment.

Mossy Trees
Mossy Trees by Muir Woods Parking Lot


I took a series of pictures last year at Muir Woods last Spring. I found it kind of ironic and slightly humorous that I discovered a collection of dancing moss trees over a creek by the parking lot at Muir Wood.  Though I hike and walk quite a lot, one of the mossiest sites I found was practically in a parking lot.

Mossy Trees Muir Woods
Mossy Trees Muir Woods by Parking Lot
Karen Nierlich Moss Enthusiast
Moss Enthusiast Karen Nierlich

Karen Nierlich is the author of a blog about moss and art, craft & decor. Heading out tomorrow at 6 am to the mountains near Tahoe to commune with my extended family and nature. I’ll have a camera in hand loaned to me by a friend, Francesco. I’m particularly grateful for the camera, as the one I had stopped working when I dropped it. Opps.

You are invited to follow me on Twitter at!/AlmostEvrything. Stayed Tuned for more photos from Muir Woods.

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.


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.