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URBAN HIKE

The Funk Zone
updated: Jun 11, 2011, 9:45 AM

By Peter Hartmann & Stacey Wright

This week we continued our quest to walk all 256 miles of public streets within the city limits of Santa Barbara, and report back to you on our adventures in Santa Barbara's incredible Funk Zone. It turns out there's a whole lotta shakin' going on in those few blocks bounded by Cabrillo Boulevard & the freeway and State Street & Garden Street.

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This "hike" was actually comprised of a few hikes - not because it was strenuous, or the area vast. Rather, it was due to the fact that most everyone in the Funk Zone has a story to tell and they tell it with animation and vigor. And so we made several trips back into the Zone to collect additional stories, more photos, and enough memories to last a lifetime.

There are two ways to tell when you have entered the Funk Zone...for one of them you must look up. When you do, you will see the largest concentration of fish weathervanes in the universe. We were so impressed with the myriad of vanes that we took pictures of most all of them. We're not sure how this trend started, but we like it. There are sharks, barracuda, groupers, salmon, swordfish, gull, wine fish, sheeps head, and a few about which we had no clue. Pretty darn creative...

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Once we realized that all this looking up could cause a little neck strain, the obvious thing for us to do was to start looking down. And the Funk Zone is a perfect place to rest your neck muscles by looking down. It seems there are more examples of both sanctioned street art and guerilla street art in these few blocks of Santa Barbara than in the rest of the city. We took pictures of only a small percentage (and only a representative sample) of the very hip art that we saw. But if you want to experience the full flavor of this colorful neighborhood, you must strike out on your own and have a walk around.

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The framework for this truly unique neighborhood is its unique architecture and the people who inhabit the buildings by day and by night. This week, we share with you just a few of the unique spaces we discovered.

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We also appreciated some of the interesting signage we saw along our route...it ranged from wholesome to downright tawdry. Again, we can only bring you only a fraction of what we encountered along our urban hike, and encourage you to walk the Zone to get the full flavor of this zany neighborhood.

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One of the signs we were especially happy to see on a return trip to the Funk Zone was that of Vasari Plaster and Stucco...On June 6th, a fire tore through his space, destroying his business and family's home. But not only have Alex and his family managed to survive the ordeal, they remain optimistic about the future.

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And last but certainly not least, we share with you with a few more pics - a wonderful view of the waterfront from the top of a building; a silkscreened t-shirt drying in the sun at Table Salt Screen Printing; and a real live artist's studio, complete with his fine art, work and living space, and his trusty dog. It belongs to the artist known simply as Skye. Pretty neato.

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Thanks to our neighborhood hosts and experts, we have a lot more to share with you. So stay tuned next week for Part II of the Funk Zone, when we present some really fascinating Santa Barbara history, show you more amazing art, feature a bunch more cool buildings & architecture, AND reveal a surprise mystery celebrity! Thank you, Chris Kirkegaard, for showing us more of this fascinating ‘hood than we could have ever discovered on our own.

As always, we encourage you to go on an urban hike of your own to meet your neighbors and explore the diverse neighborhoods of our town. We also remind you to keep your eyes, ears and minds open to all that you encounter along the way.

 

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