Little paintings of gnomes began mysteriously popping up, attached to the bases of utility poles in Oakland, back around 2012. The artist who did those has since moved to Oklahoma, reportedly, and new gnomes are now appearing with coronavirus themes, seemingly by a new artist hoping to amuse their Oakland neighbors.

As KTVU reports, the original gnome series numbered in the thousands by the time an artist who remained anonymous finished making them. They were all done on small squares of wood, and while PG&E at first threatened to remove them all, they then backed off a bit. And by now, eight years on, they've probably mostly been stolen if not otherwise decayed or removed. (Can an Oakland reader confirm?)

Some still remained in 2015 when KQED tracked down the original gnome-maker, who had been living in Oklahoma and decorating parts of that state with little gnome paintings for several years at that point. Calling him "Dan," KQED reported that the artist enjoyed all the attention the project got, but never wanted to take public credit.

Now, someone new with a more precise illustrative style has taken up the gnome torch and has been attaching little scientist gnomes and Zoom-calling gnomes to utility poles in parts of the Adams Point neighborhood, not far from where the original gnomes first appeared.

Oakland resident Pawel Dlugosz writes on Twitter, "To the new Resident Gnome Maker in Adams Point/Grand Lake area, a sincere & heartfelt thank you. @Oakland give a big round of applause for the Female Scientist Gnome, Zoom Gnome & Healthcare Worker Gnomes!"

Any leads or tips on new paintings or the identity of the new gnome artist will be greatly appreciated ([email protected]).

Photos: Pawel Dlugosz/Twitter