Blankspace – This Is Not My Beautiful Life

So last Friday was another “First Friday” here in Oakland, and friends and I did an abbreviated gallery crawl this month, hitting two of the three galleries in the Golden Gate district of OaklandDidn’t know there was a Golden Gate district in Oakland?!? It was recent news to me too, but this tiny Oakland outcropping, stretching just north and east of Emeryville and just south of Berkeley, has apparently gone by this name since the late 1800’s.  The area was originally developed as the town of Klinknerville in 1885, changed it’s name to Golden Gate in 1888 (smart move), and was annexed to Oakland in 1897 [Wikipedia].

After drinks at Kitty’s, we made our way to blankspace gallery located at 66th Street and San Pablo. The contemporary art space consists of one main gallery room with a smaller gallery shop off to the right when you first enter, filled with small-scale affordable local artists’ wares. The space was first redeveloped from an old Bait & Tackle shop (I love that the old sign still exists) and was originally launched as Lucky Tackle gallery by Jason Byers back in 2002.  He now co-directs the space with Kerri Johnson.

Blankspace Gallery

The exhibit this month (opening reception was in late October) is titled This Is Not My Beautiful Life, an interesting twist on the Talking Heads’ song “Once in a Lifetime” written by David Byrne…

And you may ask yourself
How do I work this?
And you may ask yourself
Where is that large automobile?
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful house!
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful wife!

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Two artists (Michael Hall and Daniel Healey) shared the gallery, each with entirely different styles and techniques, but both focused on themes of “history, domesticity, and narrative.”

Healey’s pieces were rather large but meticulously constructed out of tiny collage bits, most originating from vintage magazines and other historical materials (though he was quite secretive about his process!) Some of the tiny elements could easily be recognized as home wares from some type of catalog, perhaps an old Sears & Roebuck… shelving, handtrucks, etc. Yet many were harder to identify, and some even had a tissue paper translucency to them that was quite beautiful when layered.

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I love this image above, because these patrons look perplexed… one literally scratching his head, trying to figure out how and out of what were these constructed, what they now represent, and most importantly, what does it mean?!

My friends debated the perspective from which to view these images. Some saw them as maps of a sort, as though viewed from the sky above…. landmasses jutting out into an abyss of some greater homogeneous body. I preferred to view them from my feet-planted-on-the-ground perspective, and to me they looked like fantastical creatures, blob-like with arms and heads and claws protruding. Here is another…

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Michael Hall’s pieces also begin with vintage photographs, though his work is more interested in the historical narratives found within. His canvasses were more traditional paintings than Healey’s, but the incorporation of elements such as date stamping, square formatting, and borders, gave clues to the photographic origination of the images.

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I am sorry that I don’t have more photos of his work here… my representation is not particularly balanced as each artist occupied half the gallery space. Please note it is no indication of preference… I found the subtle palettes and quite moments of Hall’s imagery lovely, and a perfect contrast to the vibrant chaos of Healey’s.  The show is up until November 15th… you can go see for yourself.

Tomorrow we go to our second stop of the night… Compound Gallery & Studios.

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  1. Pingback: The Layover – a hip new spot « Oaktown Art

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