When we heard there was a huge, abandoned warehouse with wall-to-wall graffiti in Alameda that was about to be demolished, we were chomping at the bit to get pictures and find out which Bay Area artists had created pieces in the space. But were unable to secure access. Two years later, we were finally given permission to publish photos of this mysterious warehouse, which was reduced to a pile of colorful rubble. This situation is not rare, but it’s lucky when the owner of a warehouse recognizes the value of the unsanctioned art that took place inside of their building. In fact, one business owner even allowed a huge installation of graffiti by many different artists inside his warehouse before converting it into his business in 2012’s Endless Canvas exhibition.
The graff-covered warehouse in Alameda that was demolished was owned by Catellus Development Corporation, which is working with the city to build Alameda Landing, described as a “mixed-use development plan that will include both retail and residential features” by Sarah Wilson, Catellus' Public Information Specialist. Built in 1942, the now-demolished warehouse housed supplies for the Navy’s fleet during World War II. The warehouse had been abandoned for many years, and according to Wilson, once it was determined that it would be razed, “de-construction coordinators felt the artwork deserved to be documented,” and they hired photographer John Coyne to shoot it. Below, you can see the art that no longer exists in Coyne’s thorough, never-before-seen photographs. Do you recognize any of the artists? If so, let us know in the comments. And check out our KQED Art School video, Bay Area Graffiti: The Early Days, to study up on local graff styles and pioneers.