The industrial, western waterfront of Oakland, California is brought to life by Asha Carolyn Young in this book, which shares images and a story. From 1991 to 1995, Young lived in a work-live space overlooking the train tracks, Schnitzer Steel buildings, and the Port of Oakland shipyard. From her studio window, she studied this vast landscape and portrayed it in various mediums, including chalk pastel on paper, and oil on canvas and board.
Young's story tells how she came to live near the train tracks after the devastating Oakland Hills Firestorm of 1991, describing the magnetic pull industrial terrains had held for her since childhood in Bangkok, Thailand. Through her account of life near the tracks, and through images and colors of her paintings and sketches, Young depicts this dynamic part of Oakland.
This body of artwork, a result of plein air painting and sketches Young was able to produce from her studio windows, shares a part of Oakland not often portrayed. The harsh environment of this industrial setting is forbidding to many plein air painters, making these expressions truly unique. (Many of these paintings now hand in the Emeryville Business Center, just north of Oakland, where the public can view them.)
With a poetic voice, Young describes the magnetic pull industrial regions have held for her since her childhood in Bangkok, where, as a first-grader, she rode a school bus past industrial terrains. Years later, as an adult riding the subway from the East Bay to San Francisco for work, Young daily gazed on Oakland's western industrial region from her window seat. But it was not until the infamous Oakland Hills Firestorm of 1991 devastated her neighborhood that Young and then-husband Malcolm Clark were somewhat forced to move to a work-live space overlooking one of the most active and massive shipyards in the world, as well as the famous and very active metal recycling complex, Schnitzer Steel. From her studio windows, The vast panorama Young saw from her windows included the spires of San Francisco.
Young's account includes commentary on the artistic process, addressing such questions as why artists often choose to depict the same scene repeatedly, and how artists identify subjects that deeply inspire and motivate them to create.