Oaklanders began noticing tiny painted portraits of gnomes appearing at the bases of utility poles around town exactly a year ago, adding a splash of whimsy and mystery to the otherwise bullet-riddled landscape. (We kid! But seriously, things have been more violent than usual over there.) Despite the small joys that these little gnome portraits, and occasional mushroom friends, have brought the citizenry, the paintings on wood are now affixed via screws to about 2000 wooden utility poles, which are the property of PG&E, and PG&E wants them gone.
As the Tribune reports, a PG&E spokesman has said that the utility plans to "remove the small pieces of art from its poles so others don't repeat the pattern with other objects that could jeopardize the integrity of the equipment." Boo! In any event, the anonymous artist has reached out to PG&E and is working on a plan to relocate each of the artworks, and he has kept a map of where they all are. Thus, they're getting a temporary reprieve.
The Chron picked up on the story over the weekend, and via some Wikipedia searching they inform us that the red-hatted gnome figures "apparently date from 16th century Switzerland." Also, they tell us, the Oakland gnomes are "universally loved," and have been since they first began appearing in January 2012 around the Cleveland Heights and Adam's Point neighborhoods.
Also: They've inspired a blog.