This post continues the chronicle of my escapades this past Friday night, another “First Friday” in Oakland. In fact, the rest of the week will highlight the various venues hit… expect posts to get shorter and images to get blurrier as evening progressed!

And a bit of a heads up… next week (while I am on vacation ~ woo hoo!) I’ve got some posts lined up about some of the key influential African American leaders in Oakland’s history. I took a walking tour last weekend (provided free of charge thanks to the city, despite their budget woes) and it was fascinating! I hope you will find it equally so… please tune in next week to read more about the first and second generations of black leaders who shaped the city we live in today.

Last note: cool show at the Stork Club tonight.  9-9:30ish.  Two drummers.  One sax.  Experimental.  OUT THERE.  Come check it out if you’re feeling brave…

In the meantime… second stop Friday night…. bayVAN, which stands for Bay Area Visual Arts Network. It’s a gallery, housed in a tiny but beautiful space nestled between Broadway and Telegraph Avenues, on the third story of 455 17th Street. But it’s not your run-of-the-mill conventional gallery… Their focus is “[sourcing] opportunities for artists to display, lease and sell original artwork outside traditional gallery venues,” and large scale residential and commercial applications seem to fit this bill quite nicely. They currently have an artists’ registry of 100 strong, and though their 2010 Open Call to Artists is currently closed, you can check back here for future openings later in the year.

BayVAN is headed by three women who’ve been formative in developing the East Bay arts community:

  • Brooke Baird is a painter and illustrator who has been working and teaching in the Bay area for 15 years. With non-profit management experience as well as skills in high-end art advertising and real estate marketing, she “takes great pleasure in using original art to bring together beautiful and unique spaces while creating economic opportunities for fellow artists.”
  • Kerri Johnson “is a working artist, arts administrator and curator. She is the co-owner of Blankspace gallery, a contemporary art gallery she co-founded in 2005. Ms. Johnson has been a member of the Bay Area fine art community for 9 years and has worked with internationally renowned artists including Keith Boadwee and Anya Gallacio.”
  • Nicole Neditch “has been part of the Bay Area Art community for over a decade, as an independent curator, arts administrator and graphic designer.” She opened Mama Buzz Cafe and Buzz Gallery in 2002, and later, with the help of other new gallery owners in the Uptown district, “founded Art Murmur, Oakland’s ‘First Friday’ art walk, which now hosts thousands of Bay Area residents at more than 15 galleries surrounding the Mama Buzz Cafe.” She also recently designed and executed the city’s new art & culture website:

The current exhibit, up for the next two months, is a group show that hosts a number of artists with whom they’ve worked over the past year: Brian Caraway, Jason Byers, Steuart Pittman, Modesto Covarrubias, Maryly Snow, Zoe Ani, Eric Larson, Martin Webb. The show is mostly small works, which seem well suited for the narrow profile of their space. It’s not clear to me if the gallery has other open-to-the-public hours, aside from First Fridays. You can check their blog or contact them directly.