The 816 Wave Street Album
by Michael K. Hemp



This is 816 Wave.

    816 Wave Street is one block above Cannery Row, near the foot of Irving Avenue which undulates down the New Monterey hillside and ends at Wave. It was my studio from early 1981 to my departure for Hawaii in January, 1988. During that time it was the center of my universe. It was directly behind the Wing Chong Market of "Cannery Row." It peered over the Sea Pride warehouse roof to what was left of this end of Cannery Row. This was a last fleeting moment when art and literature and life mimicked it's Steinbeck life.
    The tired old neighborhood had survived in surreal, benign neglect until the development of the world's most ambitious aquarium suddenly sparked a renewal of everything around it. There were special witnesses: Kalisa's "La Ide Cafe," the Wing Chong Market, Ed's Lab, and a former hamburger joint in the Sea Pride warehouse that became Joe Rombi's "Old Row Cafe." Kalisa's promotional handouts for her eclectic "Kalisa's Cosmopolitan Restaurant" proclaimed it "The Livin' End of Cannery Row." It was 1979. That's when I walked in and couldn't walk out.

    In 1981 I bought the forlorn little shingled bungalow at 816 Wave Street from Carmel painter "Paco" Francisco Ferro. Paco lived in Carmel on Scenic Avenue, above Carmel Beach. Aging and frail, he consolidated all his Picasso style art and Lorca inspirations in his "Lanikai" at Scenic and 8th. He really no longer had any use for the studio.
    816 was condemned and had only a day-use permit as an artist studio. No electricity, no gas; just water. The wind whistled up through the cracks in the worn floor planks. Invasive Kukui grass, waist deep in the yard, grew up through the single-wall construction and through the window sills. Layers of tar paper roofing peeled away at the rusted gutters and the roof spine. This place--this musty, lonely, derelict, magical place--became my shrine to an obscene passion for Cannery Row. From it I felt the power of the past as I pursued my daily forages into the remnants of other people's lives here along old Ocean View Avenue.

    The best way to explain my studio in the condemned shingled bungalow-turned-artist-studio is to show it to you. Here are some of my favorite scenes from my years at 816 Wave and a look at some of "Cannery Row, Again."

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