Berkeley Backpacking Biz - Old School, New School, No School

Martin Joins Artists' Breakfast

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Doug Heine and sculpture

Proving it's a small world is a chain of coincidences that lead from a conversation at the Gilman Grill back to some Sierra Designs stalwarts from the 1980's and earlier. Martin Zemitis of SlingFin (via TNF, SD and MHW) struck up a conversation with an artist, Doug Heine. Doug invited Martin to drop in on a regular breakfast group of the (very) local arts community.

One sculptor, Stan Huncilman, is also an author and has written an account of a fictional rapscallion minister that is the sole survivor of the Mallory expedition. That books is dedicated Phil Brown and Stan and Al French are backpacking and trekking buddies! Here's Martin's account of meeting Doug.

Transcript after the photo below.

Doug's website:

Stan's website:

Doug Heine studio


Al Tabor: We were there having lunch...

Martin Zemitis: It turns out to be.. yea. I am here having lunch and it turns out later, this  83 year old artist walks out with a sculpture he made out of the Gilman Grill.

Al: One of these guys. (Pointing to the work shown above with the artist, Doug Heine.)

Martin: Yea, sitting here on the wall and he just walks out with it and I walked to him and said, "Am I witnessing an art theft in progress."

He says, "No, I am the artist!'.

And I go, "What are you doing? Did you sell it?"

And he goes, "No, I got a commission to one in Brass or Bronze, so I am going to take this...they want the same thing, but they want it in a different material."

So he took it home where he had gone for a month. He made it, sold it and brought it back. And so the people that own this place were really nice and they let him put up his other works and this is aluminium, this painting behind us and he found this paint that adheres to aluminium really well. Aluminium in the world of painting is always not the easiest thing to paint and he figured out some paint that works. So he is able to make these three dimensional paintings that are very creative and, you know, have some depth to them and some wild colors and without it weighing a million pounds. And anyway, he is a nice guy. He has a house right up here on, you know, a block away from SlingFin and out of know...he has a whole workshop there, metal tools, weldings, fork-lift. You know, he makes sculptures, these paintings...

Al: Is he the guy in the big metal gate. Is that him?

Martin: He has a metal gate and the roof, he has this aluminium airplane tail hanging, sticking out of the roof. It looks like an airplane crashed into the roof of his house. I mean he is just a very creative, the nicest guy in the world, unbelievably creative and he has this awesome awesome shop and he lives in the studio. Its a house studio whatever. And he has people that go over and help. He is a really Berkeley type of artist.

And so he invited me...the artist get together, Wednesday mornings and just meet and chat.

I found out about 2 open studios this weekend from going to breakfast with these guys... so its kind of like there is this whole art community from, from this area and its, they've all met... so the common denominator is that they're in the art world and they've met here at the Gilman Grill.

Al: And they have breakfast every Wednesday right?

Martin: Yes.

Al: So Stan is one of these guy?

Martin: Stan, he works up here at the Bear...what's it called, the engineering and failure analysis company, Bear, and yea he works for them and his hobby and sort of his second career is, he makes sculptures and he writes. And he recently read this interesting, I've not read it yet, but its a non-fiction, no it's fiction, about climbing Mt. Everest.

Al: Right. Did I tell you, its dedicated to Phil Brown? 

Martin: Yes, well it turns out that he is a friend of Phil Brown's! And I didn't know he had dedicated it to him. And Phil Brown, Phil Brown, he is an awesome guy, passed away a couple of years ago sadly. But he was like, never, he was always a little kid at heart and I remember at a trade show, he is one of the first people I know with a hand-held laser pointer. And this is back when I was in Sierra Designs and we wrecked havoc with his little laser pointer and you put it into a glass, like at a bar, you put it in the glass and then goes into ice and it kind of bounces around. And people when they look at it, they completely freak out. Cause you know, this is something they haven't seen before. Anyway, its, you know he is kind of an institution in the outdoor industry.

Al: Yea, my favourite Phil Brown thing was an ad he did. He was in charge of retail at Sierra Designs. They had 2 stores. One at Palo Alto and one at Berkeley. So he did this "Sale of Two Cities" ad in this horrible French accent that nobody could tell him not to put on the air. And it went on the air and all the big radio stations. [Laughing].

Ok good. I wanted that as an intro.

Micheal: Ok. What was the name of that book that you said?

Al: I'll bring it in.

Martin: You know, Climbing Everest or The Big Man...

Al: The Sacred Mountain

Martin: Oh yea OK.

Al: Sacred Mountain is what its called.

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AlanTabor AlanTabor's picture

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douglas heine (not verified)
Leave a Comment. (Please,
Hi Al, Thank you for including me in your blog and all the kind words that Martin gave me, much appreciated, keep up the good work . I hope our paths will cross again , your more than welcome to join us on any Wednesday for breakfast at the "Grill" Doug
AlanTabor's picture
Joined: 03/23/12
Thanks, Doug. I am definitely
Thanks, Doug. I am definitely going to make it by some day!

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