Officially Shutting Down

I thought I could keep this baby going, but have failed miserably, so I am officially shutting it down today.

I will leave the site up since it does seem folks tend to find the archives useful and interesting from time to time (hooray for tiny achievements!)

Until we meet again… Love Oakland.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Have a Spooktacular Halloween… mwah hah hah

I know I haven’t been keeping up with this blog lately… I’ll likely be retiring it for good soon.
But in the meantime, here’s some Oaktown neighborly Halloween fun for your frightful pleasure… Happy Halloween!

halloween, oakland halloween, haunted house, skeleton

halloween, oakland halloween, haunted house

halloween, oakland halloween, haunted house, halloween gore

halloween, oakland halloween, haunted house

halloween, oakland halloween, haunted house, skeleton

Seeking Artist Submissions for Mills College Art & Literary Journal

The English Department of Mills College (of which I am now a proud member) produces an annual literary & arts journal called 580 Split. This national journal includes innovative and risk-taking fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and art. It is one of the few literary journals carried by the Oakland Public Library and is also distributed in well-known Bay Area bookstores.

We are seeking submissions for this year’s journal which we’re envisioning as a status update on the Bay Area in five primary areas:

  1. Technology
  2. Labor
  3. Education
  4. Environment
  5. Art

If you are an artist, please consider submitting your previously unpublished visual, written, sonic, or video work if it speaks to the local conditions of any of these categories. (Sonic or video work will appear on the associated website.) Though we cannot pay you if accepted, you will receive a free copy of the publication, as well as the recognition of being published in this prestigious journal. For more info, and to submit, go here: 580 Split Submissions. Deadline is November 16th.

To view a previous issue, visit:  580 Split: issue 15: Obsession (2013)

literary journal, mills college

Art Murmur Tonight!

It’s the First Friday of Fall. Yeah, I know… it’s not technically fall yet. But you can’t deny it certainly FEELS like fall. The leaves are dropping, the naked ladies have blossomed, and the evening twilight arrives far too soon.

While it’s sad to bid farewell to Summer, I have to admit it’s also a time of great excitement for me, as I’ve just begin a two-year MFA graduate program at Mills College. Oakland baby! It’s new and different and thrilling and scary and I’m not afraid to admit that I’m already buried under an avalanche of homework.

I’ve been trying to decide if I could keep the blog going in the midst of this craziness, and while I’m not sure it’s actually a good idea, I’ve decided I’m going to try. TRY, being the operative word. Of course, I can already hear Yoda’s voice in my head, “No TRY, only DO.” Yeah well… fuck Yoda. I’m playing it by ear and that’s all I can say for now.

My future posts will likely be short and scattershot. And in that vein, here’s a quick synopsis of two cool shows to definitely not miss if you’re out Art Murmuring tonight…

Pieces of Oakland at Warehouse 416

Cities are alive. They transform. They expand and contract and decay and renew, and yes, some even die. This show is all about the transformations that have happened, and are happening now, in our beloved city of Oakland. And it’s all happening really fast…

Oakland is on a cusp. We’re a mid-sized formerly industrial city that’s emblematic of many cities across the nation, and many are watching to see just what we’ll do as we grapple with issues of economic development, housing, transportation, education, and crime. There are plans already in the works, and plans now proposed and proceeding through the pipeline, including:

Pieces of Oakland focuses on two of these redevelopment areas: Lake Merritt Station and West Oakland, highlighting their changing “faces” through the eyes of photographers, writers, planners, and neighbors by showcasing over 70 individual pieces from various sources: fragments of policy documents, oral histories, official planning maps, and a unique collection of contemporary and archival photographs.

Conceived and curated by Chelsea Wurms, the show prompts viewers to ask what it means to be part of this city. She says, “This is a unique moment for Oakland. I want to see people talking about their own values, sharing their impressions with each other, imagining other perspectives.”

Don’t miss this opportunity examine, and contribute to, the life story of our great city!

31-Oakland Photo Project_102713_5799 west-oakland-redevelopment

Warehouse 416
416 26th Street, Oakland
Opening Friday, September 5th: 6pm-10pm
Every Saturday in September: 1pm-5pm

Betti Ono’s 4th Anniversary “AMEN”

Betti Ono Gallery is celebrating its fourth anniversary tonight with a forward thinking, culture-shifting mixed media show exemplary of the multi-disciplinary, experimental work it’s been putting forth since it first opened in 2010… the type of work that garnered it the 2014 East Bay Express Reader’s Poll Best Gallery Award.

Titled “AMEN: A Collaborative Meditation for Survival,” the show is an open experiment with language and image, designed to reimagine American mythology with futuristic and visionary depictions of traditionally marginalized groups (especially queer people of color) in culturally recognizable positions of power. The idea is to question how we might be programming existing systems of marginalization into our future society, and to disrupt that process, and envision an all-affirming and inclusive world instead.

Featuring eight 2-dimensional visual works and eight wall texts, the show was developed by two artists:  visual artist Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski and writer Carrie Y.T. Kholi. Gallery owner Anyka Barber had worked with each before and, seeing the resonances in the issues their artworks addressed, brought them together for this special show. Though friends for years, this is Amaryllis and khoLi’s first collaborative artistic project.

I asked about the nature of their collaboration… Amaryllis said, “khoLi and I began a conversation around survival at the very beginning. At that point, we had spoken on surviving academia, both being queer women of color. I had just graduated from the California College of the Arts, and KhoLi is in the process of getting her PhD in English Literature.  Our conversations quickly evolved into a larger conversation around spiritual and mythological survival, and we grew AMEN from that place.”

This show is a celebration for ALL. Don’t miss it!

Amen-BettiOno Instructions for a Storm (closeup2)
Thick Dig (Ghost Sighting)
Betti Ono Gallery
1427 Broadway, Oakland
Friday, September 5th: 6pm-9pm

Oakland Is… another installment by TDK Crew

This is a happy story. It’s a win-win. It’s a collaboration between art and business and it’s a boon for the local community and our beloved city. We’ll start at the beginning…

Wrist Ship Supply is the business. According to their website they are “the world’s largest ship supplier,” providing goods and services to support the shipping vessels & crews that transport goods around our planet. Pretty cool. About two years ago they acquired a new location in West Oakland on Peralta Street (between 16th & 17th) and it looked like this:

photo courtesy FGP

photo courtesy FGP

As you can see the building was a bit of a mess. Through a desire to be good stewards of their new neighborhood, they decided to invest in a building makeover that would honor the spirit and tradition of Oakland.

This is where Sage comes in. Sage is the founder of Fuming Guerilla Productions (FGP), a production company that specializes in “matchmaking” between artists and clients wishing to commission works. Sage was the middleman: developing the proposal, handling the budget, and managing the project so Wrist could rest easy knowing their makeover would come in on time and under budget, and, of course, finding the right artists for the job.

Meet Oakland graffiti artists and members of TDK Crew, Norman Chuck (aka “Vogue”) and Mike “Bam” Tyau. Vogue was the lead artist for the project and the mural concept and design is all his. A long time Oakland resident, he knew of the neighborhood’s important railway history, and chose that as the driving theme.

I wrote a bit about this here, but basically in the late 1800’s, Oakland was designated as the western terminus of the Transcontinental Railway. The trains ran all the way across the country to land in West Oakland, turning Oakland into a major transportation hub early in its development. Just blocks from Wrist’s building, the old 16th Street station was built in 1912 and served as the major disembarkation point for a large population of African Americans migrating from the South for jobs and better lives. It resulted in a major transformation of the city, and it’s that history that’s being honored here.

oaktownart_20140821_1The mural is huge, spanning three sides of the building, and has been several weeks in the making, with work still continuing. While Vogue and BAM are leading the effort, several guest artists and interns are contributing as well, adding a level of complexity to the project, as Vogue noted it’s important to assess each artists’ skill level and determine how best to put their talents to work. Additionally, this work is all done with aerosol spray paint which is typically applied to relatively smooth surfaces, so the building’s walls of textured brick and metal screened windows proved challenging. But the results are absolutely beautiful!

Here is the 17th Street side of the building which features a massive ship and the iconic Oakland shipping cranes as a nod to Wrist’s industry and Oakland’s importance as a major port. The top reads “Oakland is… ” which is a series the TDK Crew has begun in an effort to highlight the history and unique flavor of our great city. This is the third installment of the “Oakland is… ” series.

oaktownart_20140821_9 oaktownart_20140821_10

The first was painted across from Brown Sugar Kitchen on Mandela Parkway and is an homage to the old Cypress Freeway that once existed there before being damaged by the ’89 Loma Prieta Earthquake. It reads “Emerging from the rubble and dust clouds of tragedy is the spirit of Oakland: bright, abundant, and relentless!

oaktownart_20140821_11

The second was painted in Jack London square near Kimball’s as a tribute to the Oakland A’s and in an effort to sway the team to “STAY” here in Oakland, which thankfully, is now resolved. Go A’s!

photo courtesy TDK Crew

photo courtesy TDK Crew

These efforts are the TDK crew’s way of showing that graffiti isn’t just a nuisance. It really is Art (with a capital A) that can be used for positive purposes such as beautifying neighborhoods and building civic pride. Their goal is also to act as role models for young graffiti artists, showing that aerosol art can be used for much more than simple tagging.

And on that note, let’s see the rest of their latest homage to Oakland… The longest wall (running down Peralta) features a series of railcars, complete with graffiti tags for “authenticity”.

oaktownart_20140821_4

Note: locomotive above only outlined. This wall still in progress. oaktownart_20140821_5 oaktownart_20140821_6 oaktownart_20140821_7

And here’s the 17th Street side:

oaktownart_20140821_8

These guys will be putting the finishing touches on the mural over the next couple of weeks. Stop by and check it out…

Also, there’s an event happening tomorrow called Dream Day 2014 to honor the life and legacy of Mike “Dream” Francisco, an original member of the TDK crew. There’ll be live painting, music performances, DJ’s, food, and more. Here’s the scoop:

Saturday, August 23rd from 2pm to 7pm
Greenpeace Yard
955 7th street, Oakland

Ramblings of a Reticent Blogger…

[NOTE: If you’re dreaming about the weekend and dawdling at work and have some time to linger over this lengthy post, wonderful… start at the beginning. If, however, you’re pressed for time, just skip to the end. That’s the important part. Happy weekend everyone!]

So you may have noticed I’ve been a bit remiss lately. I feel bad.

It’s a mix of issues really. Part of it is the thought that I just don’t have that much to say… much of interest anyway. You see, it’s hard to get out as much as I used to… now married and ensconced in the relative suburbia of Oakland’s lower hills. Instead of hopping on my bike to sail in any given direction from the flats of West Oakland, an explorer bent on exploring, I now find the pedal from the hills slightly daunting… the discoveries farther from reach. And after all… wouldn’t it just be easier to water the garden or stream another episode of True Detective?

So I guess I’ve gotten a bit lazy. But then I think, NO. Don’t do that to yourself. You have been busy. You were traveling for your friend’s wedding. And then you had your wisdom teeth out… and recovery took awhile (you’re not 20 anymore!) Plus you’ve done all that volunteer work. And you prioritized spring cleaning your office and garage… donating your storage carts to the sculptor, your fabric bolts and wedding leftovers to the creative reuse center, your old cameras and film to the photojournalism student, you’re your computer cast-offs to the local school vice-principal… all in support of the ARTS, remember? And let’s not forget that your beautiful gleaming Mac Pro tower, despite its ever-youthful exterior, was slowly crumbling within to the point where it shat itself, gasped its last breath, and then… DIED. Cleaning up that mess was a serious time (and money) suck. So take it easy on yourself, k?

The other thing, and yes I realize this is completely contradictory, is that I feel like I have stuff to say all the time, but am simply unable to capitalize on the temporality of it all. I spent a good chunk of time redesigning the blog with a new theme to be mobile-friendly in anticipation of having much to say… did you notice? All that work, but then scant few posts to follow. The problem seems to be that despite having an abundance of ideas, I just can’t to get them out fast enough to be timely (I’m a terrible tweeter). And once the moment’s passed… well, then what I had to say seems… irrelevant. It’s a conundrum.

Best Music, Best Music OaklandFor example I wanted to tell you about Best Music going out of business. A downtown Oakland institution for over 80 years (80 years!!!) I took photos and everything. It’s gone now.

I wanted to share my latest dining delights on a perfect little stretch of Grand… the Grand Tavern (the ambience, the service, the food!), and The Star (hello deep dish meatball and ricotta pizza, you are to die for!), and Penrose (Charlie’s done it again). But my photos were lame and the moments passed, so I remained silent.

makai ukuleleI wanted to post about the Ukulele get-togethers at Actual Cafe (I got a ukulele for my birthday last month) but now I don’t even know if these gatherings are happening anymore. If you know, please let me know… I’m looking to expand my current repertoire of three songs.

I wanted to write about the new beer garden (Lost and Found) in Uptown, but now it’s not new anymore. I made plans to meet friends there, but there was a miscommunication and we ended up meeting at the old beer garden in Uptown. So much for modern technology… we humans can still fuck it up.

pollinate farm gardenI wanted to tell you about my visit to Pollinate earlier this summer in preparation for planting my garden… the orchard, the chickens, the farming & gardening supplies, the beekeeping stuff, and the incredible library of books, plus their slew of cool DIY classes (I’m waiting for pickles!) I interviewed the owner, I took photos. Alas, where is the post?

I could go on and on… but I’m figuring I’ve probably lost most of you by now, so I’ll just wrap up by talking about one more meaningful posts I meant to write and sadly let slide.

It’s about the art space Studio Grand, which I wrote about once before. The first time I stepped into the space I knew it was something special… the music was moving, the acoustics were perfect, the curated paintings that hung on the walls beautifully complimented the performance, and the vibe was, well… LOVE. I guess that’s the best way I can describe it.

The space was inspired and founded by Holly Schneider with the mission of supporting community cultural engagement through programming that reflects and serves the diversity that is Oakland. I began taking classes there and, one day upon arriving for class, learned that Holly had suddenly and most unexpectedly passed away at the far-too-young age of 42 from a very rare form of cancer. It was a shock. And a reminder of how precious each day is… not to be wasted on petty things or grumpiness. A solemn reminder for me, someone who often feels grumpy. Holly was an artist, musician, wife, and mother whose passion for art, music, and community can be viscerally felt in the space she has left behind, which I visit often.

The most recent performance I attended was a solo guitar concert by Chuck Johnson this past Tuesday. I’d never heard of Chuck Johnson, but that didn’t matter. I knew the show would be amazing because the community of artists supporting this space is amazing. My sweetie couldn’t attend the show with me and asked me later what it was like… I said it was hard to describe but sort of like early Americana folk guitar picking but with a modern twist… a more delicate and sublime sensibility. Here’s one of the gorgeous tracks he played:

Studio Grand continues on in Holly’s honor, carried forward by the work of countless volunteers and artists. I encourage everyone to check out their eclectic program offerings, and/or attend the closing reception of the current art installation: Susan Matthews’ Rhythm & Spirit.

Friday, August 22, 2014
6:00pm – 8:00pm

This will be a very special reception as it marks the close of the last show that Holly curated. She was drawn to the work of Susan Matthews captured the spirit of the people of Cuba and the rich tradition of Rumba, and knew these pieces would fit beautifully into Studio Grand. They do.
Susan Matthews

Tuesday Tidbit: Post-it Street Art

post it note, post it art, graffiti post it

Saw this little beauty on my way to get a fried chicken sandwich. It got me to wondering… if I were going to leave a message for some random stranger to find, just exactly what would I want to say? Hmmm…

What would you say?