Amblin' Alameda: Watermelon art

Amblin' Alameda: Watermelon art

Morton Chalfy

We experienced another "king tide" last week, but since we didn't visit the Pacific Coast (living here on the bay as we do), we despaired of seeing any of its effects. Perhaps "despaired" is too strong a word for the momentary twinge of regret we felt, but having been alerted and re-alerted and re-re-alerted by the local weather people to its effects, we felt an understandable urge to participate and revel in its once-in-a-season occurrence. We were serendipitously rewarded with a full blown piece of evidence of its power and existence.

On the way to Costco along Doolittle Drive is a landmark piece of art. It's not visible heading south, toward the store, but clearly visible on the way back to Alameda. Some years ago (exactly how many is unknown). someone painted a rock anchoring the shoreline to look like a cut watermelon. The watermelon rock has prompted a grin every time I pass it, and a smile several months ago when it was repainted - still a watermelon, but now with a paisley cast to it.

And there it sits, sending its message (as I read it) of "Entering Alameda, Home of Artists" to all who pass by. Then came the king tide and, to our astonishment, the rock was partially submerged! We exclaimed over that fact and wondered just how high the tide had risen.

It was my impression that the rise at that spot must have been at least five feet, if not more. But how could we know? Perspective is a funny thing and can fool us easily, so I couldn't be sure of either my memory or the height. Not a worrisome problem, but an unsolved one.

A day or two later, returning from another trip into the wilds of San Leandro, we saw the other side of the king tide's rise: the accompanying retreat. Following the rule of what goes up must come down, the water had receded from the shore and left the Watermelon Rock high, (at least five feet if not more) dry and with a distinct watermark left by the King. This was a very satisfying result, as it solved the previously unsolved in an unmistakable way.

I have been told that this is not a rock but a piece of concrete - which better explains its shape - and that it started its artistic life as a lemon slice. Who originally discovered its fitting appearance and suitability for a piece of artwork? Who painted the lemon slice? Was it the same person who changed it to a watermelon? The same who painted it paisley?

This anonymous art enriches my life at least, and the lives of others who pass by, but having solved the king tide question it remains a mystery. I offer a tip of my plumed hat to the artist.


Submitted by Alana (not verified) on Wed, Feb 25, 2015

I also smile every time I pass it. I love that someone just one day decided it looked like a piece of fruit and said "Hey, I'm going to paint that"!

Submitted by Laura (not verified) on Thu, Feb 26, 2015

Thanks to our very own Monica Lee for the watermelon's paisley design!