Remembering Claudia Hoffberg, Who Bombed Berkeley

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Claudia Hoffberg. Credit: Josh Baxter

Claudia Hoffberg of Kensington – a prolific artist, loyal friend, loyal partner, loving sister, aunt, daughter and godmother – died on August 21 at the age of 62.

Born in Rochester, New York, Claudia graduated in ceramics from the School of American Craftsman in Rochester and the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland. She opened a ceramics studio right out of college and for 15 years exhibited and sold her ceramics in numerous galleries and stores across the country including the Craft and Folk Art Museum, the Virginia Brier Gallery, Neiman Marcus and 300 others.

She has always studied and practiced different art forms, and in her early thirties transformed her ceramics workshop into a fiber workshop. She dyed and spun wool by hand, wove intricate tapestries, knitted, felted, dolled up and explored many other forms of textile art. She has taught these skills to hundreds of students at her Deep Color studio in Kensington. She has also performed clandestine acts of street art under the name Street color and unofficially planted wire bombs outside museums. She wrote: “I think of shelling the wire in a museum like throwing a ball and seeing if anyone is going to play. Street art is a big part of the contemporary art scene, so I put it near a museum and see if they see street art as something they are interested in.

She has also been invited to exhibit her art in museums, including the San José Art Museum, the Sonoma Valley Art Museum, the Oakland Museum, the Contemporary Jewish Museum Sukkah Studio and the DeYoung Museum.

His last pleasure was drawing, as evidenced by his dozens of notebooks filled with landscapes, portraits and pastries.

Courtesy of Claudia Hoffberg

Many in the Bay Area have seen his street art on bicycle rack:

On BART:

Courtesy of Claudia Hoffberg

On the fences:

Courtesy of Claudia Hoffberg

Hanging on to bakeries (she loved bakeries!):

Outside the Nabolom bakery. Courtesy of Claudia Hoffberg

She bombed the entire state, including Mendocino, where she was the fiber artist in residence at the Mendocino Art Center in 2017:

A house in Mendocino covered with felt. Courtesy of Claudia Hoffberg

And in Paris, France:

Courtesy of Claudia Hoffberg

The press was fascinated by this art form and many articles have been written about her and her stealthy assistant The Russian. Berkeleyside covered her with half a dozen stories.

Why the wire bombardment? As she wrote on her blog, “I really like the idea that people bump into art on the street when they are just in their normal life, that art is ordinary but provocative and beautiful.” She went on to explain that “it flips the idea that art should be inside a gallery judged by experts. By putting it in the street, it breaks the barriers of what is art.

When she was invited to be the artist in residence at De Young Museum in San Francisco for the month of December 2014, she wanted to mesh an outdoor wire bomb next to her art exhibit. And she wanted to teach museum visitors how to create felt flowers and included their work as part of the evolving exhibit.

She gathered encyclopedic knowledge about something, practiced it obsessively, and then shared that knowledge with others. Whether it’s spinning, knitting, felting, kayaking (she taught UC Cal Adventures for 10 years), Breema bodywork or, quite simply, how to live. She loved the job of learning something new, that’s how she was able to master so many different art forms. She wrote, “I love the process of being bad at something and improving steadily. A lot of people hate “being bad at first” so much that they don’t want to learn new skills. But you can’t improve if you don’t start off badly.

Claudia loved to teach and often incorporated an educational or interactive element into her exhibitions. She wanted as many people as possible to make art. His main focus and his joy were art. In her studio, Deep Color, in Kensington, she has taught hundreds of people different aspects of artistic creation. Many of his students have said that their lives have been changed dramatically by his guidance.

So did his friends and family, who all felt the incredible impact his generous and brilliant ideas had on their lives. And most of all, it’s the way she lived her life that inspired us all. As she wrote, “It’s an amazing thing to go ahead and do what you want to do. Very energizing. Why not?”

Claudia is survived by her partner of 22 years, Josh Baxter; her father David (Gwen) Hoffberg; his brothers Kevin (Eddy) Hoffberg and Eric (Leah) Hoffberg; her niece and nephews, Emily, Jake and Jace; and his goddaughter, Penny Armstrong.


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