Kael Basart House | Projects: Old and New, BAHA Fall 2014 Newsletter #144 - Kael Basart House
Projects: Old and New, BAHA Fall 2014 Newsletter #144

Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association, Projects: Old and New, BAHA Fall 2014 Newsletter #144


This summer, a surprising historic and cultural resource emerged in a neighborhood south of the campus. Bay Sotheby’s Real Estate agent Ortrun Neisar was preparing for sale a brown-shingle at 2419 Oregon Street, only to discover that the house was full of murals painted by Jess (Collins) (1923-2004), the celebrated collagist and long-time companion of poet Robert Duncan (1919-1988). Pauline Kael bought the house in the 1950s and commissioned the murals; the house was a salon for the emerging film critic. After her departure for New York in the 1960s, the house was bought by Robert & Ann Basart, whose family still owns the property. Robert, a composer and head of the music department at Hayward State, and Ann, a music librarian at UC Berkeley and publisher of Fallen Leaf Press, had some of the murals painted over, but otherwise preserved the art and the house. A group spearheaded by Christopher Wagstaff, scholar and head of the Jess Trust, has been formed to preserve both murals and house, a trove of Berkeley’s artistic heritage in the 1950s and 1960s. While the group pursues full non-profit, tax-deductible status, BAHA has agreed to be their fiscal agent. Contact the Committee to Preserve the Jess Murals at the Kael/Basart House at: P.O. Box 5091, Berkeley, California 94705.