Red Baron “crashes” into the bay, to be replaced Saturday afternoon

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The long standoff between Snoopy and the Red Baron finally yielded a victor as artist Tyler Hoare’s iconic piece “crash-landed” into the bay earlier this week (perhaps on “May Day“? ;).

An Art.com building employee captured the collapse of the piling that the Red Baron was mounted to and posted it on the Oakland Reddit page. Emeryville Public Works was notified and set out to recover the iconic piece.

Local politicians turned the incident into a PR opportunity for them, posing with the damaged plane, taking selfies and rejoicing about how they “saved” the Red Baron. In actuality, this probably created more work for the 77-year-old artist.

Ironically, and coincidentally, Hoare had already planned on ceremoniously “releasing” this piece into the bay and replacing it with a new piece that is currently on display at Oakland’s Compound Gallery. “We were planning on pushing it into the bay and letting nature take its course,” Hoare noted when contacted “But mother nature beat us too it! Next storm, the Red Baron will be nothing but little splinters.”

Emeryville Public Works employees waited till low tide and pulled the wreckage onto the beach at Shorebird park (Photo: City of Emeryville/Berkeleyside.com)

This particular piece was installed in 2012 and had been stripped and was badly eroded over the past few years. The ongoing challenge with Hoare’s installations are the diminishing availability of pier pilings which he uses to mount them. Fortunately, there is still a single remaining piling and the Saturday installation is expected to proceed as planned.

Hoare made a trip to Emeryville on Friday afternoon to “disassemble” the existing Snoopy installation and make room for the new Red Baron piece. Hoare was joined by Compound Gallery co-owner Matt Reynoso and two others.

Tyler supervised Reynoso and another team member working to disassemble the Snoopy installation.

Reynoso and The Compound Gallery have made an effort to spotlight local artists like Hoare and help preserve their legacy. “Lot’s of people came out specifically to see Tyler’s work, people who had been admiring his free public art for decades.” Hoare joked that he sold more pieces as a result of the exhibit than he had in the previous 40 years.

Hoare estimated that he’s on his 30th or so iteration of this installation that goes back decades. Hoare clearly has no sentimental attachment to them. “If somebody wants to save it, they can, but it’s in pretty bad shape. It’s not going in a museum!”

Hoar and his team pried the weathered Snoopy piece and carefully removed the rusty nails that held it to the piling. When all was clear, they toppled it over and it came crashing to the shore below. The two historic rivals would declare a cease fire … for now.

Hoare did note another piling closer to Chevy’s only accessible by boat but then wisely thought better of it “eh, my wife would kill me.” Hoare already noted he’d get to work on his next Red Baron piece now that he had more room in his studio.

The Compound Gallery’s career retrospective of Hoare’s work is scheduled to conclude on Saturday, May 6th. The installation ceremony will happen at Shorebird park at 1 p.m. sharp.

Hoare’s latest piece, which is being exhibited in the Compound Gallery, will replace the existing piece this Saturday.

Feature Image: Tyler Hoare surveys the damage.

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Rob Arias

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who lived in Emeryville from 2003 to 2021. Rob founded The E'ville Eye in 2011 after being robbed at gunpoint and lamenting the lack of local news coverage. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.

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