Category Archives: paint

Ernest Doty in the Dimond

I’ve been a bit lax in posting this past week or so… I came down with a nasty cold/flu which has kept me moving at the pace of a three-toed sloth. Actually slower.

But the universe has an interesting way of providing when we need it most, and as a result, I’m excited to tell you that I’ve got a guest post coming up later this week. Please stay tuned.

In the meantime, here is a continuation of the focus on a cool multi-artist installation site in my local hood, with the foreground image below by street artist Ernest Doty. I’ve actually featured his work on this site before without realizing it (see Art Murmur is cool. And it’s tonight. which I now know includes one of his multi-eyed creatures, another regular theme in his work.)

I love this piece for its focus on the bird, more specifically a raven (at least that’s what it looks like to me).

The Bird

I recently completed a small body of photographic artworks that, while focused on various themes and settings, all had one feature in common: birds. In the process of developing this body I did a bit of research for an accompanying essay and discovered that throughout history, images of birds have been used to symbolize the link between the spiritual realm and the physical world.

A Raven

Just last week I read a short creative nonfiction work called The Raven by Barry Lopez. It’s an allegorical meditation on the differences between crows and ravens, but really its meaning is much deeper, exploring issues frequented in his works: the relationship of human culture to the physical landscape, identity, ethics, etc. Here is a short excerpt:

Finally there is this: one morning four ravens sat at the edge of the desert waiting for the sun to rise. They had been there all night and the dew was like beads of quicksilver on their wings. Their eyes were closed and they were as still as the cracks in the desert floor.

The wind came off the snow-capped peaks to the north and ruffled their breath feathers. Their talons arched in the white earth and they smoothed their wings with sleep, dark bills. At first light their bodies swelled and their eyes flashed purple. When the dew dried on their wings they lifted off from the desert floor and flew away in four directions. Crows would never have had the patience for this.

You can look up the PDF if you want to read the full piece (it’s quite short at just three pages). I found its beauty echoed in the imagery of this mural.

Ernest Doty, Dimond Murals, Bird Murals, Ernest Doty Mural, MacArthur Murals, Dimond Murals

Many of Doty’s works incorporate bird imagery (see another below, from West Oakland) and since his Facebook profile describes him as “a mystic”, I have to believe he’s got some similar intent at work with this symbolism. Very cool.

bird mural, ernest doty, bird graffiti

Photo by Graff Hunter

Transmission Gallery – “Just Look” Closing Party & Artist Talk this Saturday 3-5pm

We had a pretty quiet Murmur last Friday hitting just two galleries a bit off the beaten path, both kitty-corner from each other at West Grand Avenue at West Street in West Oakland. Westward ho!
transmission-gallery

We hit Transmission Gallery first and weren’t quite sure what to expect given the unassuming and nondescript industrial entrance, but once we entered the space it was clear the transformation Transmission embodied from its prior incarnation as an auto-repair shop (Valco Transmission Repair).

It was a quiet evening there since the opening reception for the show in place had been held back in February, but it was actually quite lovely to peruse the expansive and pristine space freely without the crowds, and we were able to spend ample time gazing upon Eva Bovenzi’s stark abstractions, which I think is what was required to appreciate their at-first-seeming-simplicity.

eva-bovenzi2

Eva Bovenzi Just Look

Her solo show, titled “Just Look” features over 50 works created with acrylic paint, Yupo paper, and canvas. At first glance you don’t even realize that there are collaged elements to these pieces, exemplary of the fact that “Bovenzi does not use collage to create disjunctions; she uses it to achieve pictorial unity,” as reviewer David M. Roth wrote. (see link at bottom)

The works reference delicate elements from nature (wings, feathers, carapaces, and such) as well as historical works of art, particularly with respect to abstractions of eye forms, which Bovenzi says “led [her] to contemplate the notion of the disembodied eye… as a stand-in for “being-ness”, the quality of simply being alive without partiality.”

eva-bovenzi

The closing reception for the show will be held tomorrow, Saturday 3/15, between 3-5pm with the artist herself giving a talk at 4pm. For those who haven’t yet seen this gallery or show, this is a wonderful opportunity to experience the gallery in all of its light-filled glory (it’s a sunny second-story space), and dialogue with the artist about her work and process.

Transmission Gallery
770 West Grand Ave.
Oakland, CA 94612
Gallery Hours: Fridays 12-6pm; Saturdays 11am-5pm

Stay tuned for highlights of the second gallery we hit… Aggregate Space. I’ll be writing about that next week.

In the meantime, here are a couple in-depth articles for those seeking more info on Transmission and Bovenzi…

Art Murmur Tonight!

It’s the first friday of March, so you know what that means… Art Murmur and First Friday are happening! Whether you’re looking to actually enjoy some art away from the crowds or get your groove on in crazy-town, there are lots of options available…

PARTY CENTRAL

Though the “murmuring” has grown over the last few years to encompass quite a few more neighborhoods than the Uptown area where it first began back in 2006, Uptown is still the heart of it all, and certainly the epicenter of First Fridays (the street festival that has developed in conjunction with Art Murmur). The festival takes place along Telegraph Avenue all the way from Grand Avenue to 27th Street and along side streets 23rd, 24th, 25th, and 26th. Best access is from Broadway.

In addition to all the regular fanfare (DJs, bands, food trucks, gallery exhibitions, street artists, etc.) The Great Wall of Oakland (at Grand/Broadway) has a special event tonight… “For the 3rd year in a row, a curated screening of the personal works of Pixar Animation Studio employees will be presented on the 100’x100’ urban canvas. This very unique glimpse into the creative minds of our talented Emeryville neighbors is the only public screening of it’s kind, giving Bay Area residents a rare opportunity to view the short films that Pixar employees create in their spare time when they are not working on major blockbusters.”

Great Wall of Oakland

OFF THE BEATEN PATH

For those looking for a bit of a mellower experience, fret not… you can bypass the whole crazy of Uptown and seek out adventure along a less trampled path. Here are several options highlighted on Art Murmur’s site:

Downtown & Jack London: Along Oakland’s Broadway corridor, four Oakland Art Murmur galleries are featuring new exhibitions.

  • Betti Ono kicks off International Women’s History Month with the west coast premiere of Stop Telling Women To Smile
  • ProArts opens Not of This World, a group show curated by Renny Pritikin that looks at the subtle ways in which art can change how we see the world around us
  • Joyce Gordon Gallery opens the show Exit from Anonymous, a group exhibition of seven women artists in celebration of International Women’s Month
  • Affiliated retailer Field Day presents the whimsical paintings & illustrations of Jenny Jo Kristan along with textiles from featured designer Harriette Ray and a Venetian plaster photo booth by Eddy Lilly Bouquet
  • In Jack London, lOAKal presents Double Vision, an exhibition of two distinct bodies of work (photography & paintings) by Bay Area artist Sam W. Grant

North & West Oakland:

  • In West Oakland, at the intersection of West Street and Grand Avenue, Aggregate Space Gallery presents Broadcast Standards, a solo video show by filmaker and video artist Doug Garth Williams
  • Transmission Gallery, also at West Grand & West (kitty-corner from Aggregate), presents Just Look, abstract paintings by Eva Bovenzi
  • In North Oakland, Temescal Alley’s Interface Gallery premiers Endograph, an installation by the art and architecture team smith | allen
Broadcast Standards at Aggregate Space Gallery

Broadcast Standards at Aggregate Space Gallery

Have Fun. Be Safe. And here’s a map for you intrepid adventurers. Hope to see you out there!

Oakland Art Murmur Venue Map

Friday Night Fun at OMCA

Ever have one of those break-neck speed weeks where you’re barreling full speed towards the weekend and all of a sudden it’s upon you, arriving before you’ve even had a chance to decide how you might actually revel in it? Well that was my week last week.

When Friday rolled around with no plans firmly in place, we opted to hit the Oakland Museum of California’s Friday Night festivities (Friday Nights @ OMCA). It was the perfect ending to a busy week, meeting all of our needs (food, drink, art, and entertainment), all on the cheap!

Friday Nights at OMCA, Friday Nights @ OMCA, Oakland Museum Friday Night

We hit the food trucks first. The trucks are part of Off The Grid, an organization that began in San Francisco in 2010 with the goal of cultivating, managing, and promoting various food truck markets around the Bay Area. The trucks participating rotate weekly, but there was a wide variety to choose from including Korean, Peruvian, Middle Eastern, Indian, and much more.

I’m doing this stupid gluten-free thing right now and surprisingly there were even lots of options for me at Streatery, which dubs itself “glorious peasant food.” I couldn’t agree more. My dinner was delish! My partner in crime enjoyed fantastic falafel and fries from Liba, whom I first wrote about ages ago in The Best Falafel You’ve Ever Had. But I think my favorite truck, despite the fact that I can’t currently indulge in its delicacies, was Grilled Cheese Bandits. It’s just such an excellent name.

Off the Grid, grilled cheese bandits, off the grid food trucks

After dinner, we paid our half-price admission to the museum (kids are all free) and waited for the “snack-sized docent tour” that was set to begin at 7:30. These are offered each Friday night and consist of a short 15-minute docent-led tour introducing visitors to one of the museum’s galleries (you don’t know which one till you show up!)

Since it was the final day of Black History Month, our docent Shirley led us through the gallery of California Art, focusing on three African American artists. We examined one work by each artist, and though they all worked in different mediums, Shirley wove a wonderful narrative tale throughout that tied the experiences of these different artists together into a larger portrayal of the African American experience in general.

We began with a photographic portrait by Carrie Mae Weems, an American artist who works with text, fabric, audio, digital images, and installation video but is best known for her work in the field of photography (wikipedia). The image is part of documentary series of images called the Kitchen Table Series (1990), which as you can imagine, features various arrangements of people around the kitchen table. As the place where families gather to share nourishment and experiences, it serves as the perfect focal point around which to portray family stories. Weems says, “In these series, I endeavored to intertwine themes as I have found them in life—racial, sexual, and cultural identity and history—and presented them with overtones of humor and sadness, loss and redemption.”

Carrie Mae Weems, kitchen table series, carrie mae weems self portrait

Next we viewed a sculptural installation made out of old washboards by Betye Saar. Known for her work in the field of assemblage, Saar was a part of the black arts movement in the 1970s, challenging negative myths and stereotypes of African Americans (wikipedia). The piece incorporates language and imagery into the sculpture: each washboard features a painting or photographic transfer of a portrait of a maid or servant, and words stagger down the sculpture comprising its title “LEST WE FORGET THE STRENGTH OF TEARS OF THOSE WHO TOILED.” Poised at the top encased in a beautiful ornate silver frame is a portrait of what appears to be mother and child–the child with diploma in hand. It’s a beautiful and emotionally charged piece that conveys the struggle of generations and the rise of those who followed.

Carrie Mae Weems, washboard installation, washboard sculpture, lest we forget the strength of tears of those who toiled

And finally we landed in the other-worldly scene portraying the imagination of painter David Huffman. Huffman’s work features deeply engaged thematic concerns with African American culture, as well as frequent nods to his childhood love of comic books. Many of his paintings feature his own comic-book-like characters called Traumanauts–they are the small figures in space suits surrounding the amputated tree in the painting below. Huffman defined these characters in a 2009 interview with White Hot Magazine: “The traumanauts are the psychological personalities coming from the rupture of slavery for Africans… From being captured, brought to America and parts of Europe, as workers, as slaves, there’s a cultural identity that’s been decimated. The traumanauts are constantly looking for a location, for home.”

David Huffman, David Huffman painting, tree huggers, traumabots

It’s amazing how much we learned in just 15 short minutes and I highly recommend these snack-sized tours to anyone attending a future Friday Night at OMCA.

We next made our way to the Blue Oak beer garden for a drink, and a little people and koi watching–there’s a lovely koi pond surrounding the garden. There’s a little something here for everyone: live music & DJs, dance lessons, art activities for kids, tasting events for grownups, and plenty of locally crafted beer and wine. I had a delectable glass of Coppola red to quench my thirst and set the mood before hitting one last gallery (they’re all open till 9pm). I hadn’t yet seen the recently re-opened Natural Sciences gallery and was super excited as we made our way to the entrance. But that’s another story… please stay tuned!

TONIGHT: Art & Wine Gallery Night with Friends of OAM

Fun event tonight at two very cool uptown galleries, Classic Cars West and Warehouse 416. I’ve written about both in previous posts, which I’ll link at the bottom…

Tonight is a fundraiser and membership drive for Friends of OAM. Tickets are $15 for the individual event. Or with the purchase of an annual membership of $50, you get free admission tonight and to all other quarterly gallery nights such as this one. Your contribution is tax-deductible and supports an organization doing great work in our city.

Friends of OAM work to “support the Oakland Art Murmur in its mission to increase awareness of and participation in the visual arts in Oakland.”

Classic Cars West is hosting Passage by Night, a unique installation of work by collaborative team Isaac Amala and Liz Simpson, featuring sculptural and painterly constructions from neckties.

And Warehouse 416 presents In Search of Sheba: Black Women Artists 2014 in honor of Black History Month (February) and Women’s History Month (March). Numerous artists’ works in a variety of mediums (sculpture, painting, textile fashion, video, photography, pen & ink, and découpage) will be featured.

Hope to see you there…

FOAM-gallery-night

Historical posts:

ARTIST INTERVIEW: Colin David Harris discusses AHC’s new mural in West Oakland

AHC mural, west oakland mural, san pablo mural, super heroes mural

A wonderful new mural is gracing the underpass of the 580 freeway at San Pablo in West Oakland.  I can’t tell you how many hundreds of times I must have driven past this previously blank stretch of concrete in my 10 years of living in West Oakland. I always thought… Man, it’s too bad there isn’t something fabulous painted there. I even dreamt up various artistic scenarios, but they stayed firmly planted in my brain and never made their way into fruition in the real world.  Until now.

Organized and implemented by Attitudinal Healing Connection, Inc. (AHC) – an organization whose mission is to build healthy communities by breaking the cycle of violence, through platforms for creative expression and communication for children, youth, adults and families – the piece is part of the Oakland Super Heroes Mural Project, slated to produce 5 more murals in this stretch of West Oakland adjacent to Emeryville.  I can say from personal experience, this neighborhood could use a little love, and I’m thrilled about the prospect of transforming a somewhat bleak stretch through art filled with positive messages of vibrant community.  If you feel the same way, please help by support the project.  Donations are needed but there are other ways to get involved as well.

Lots has already been written about this project – I am a bit late to the game as usual (damn that day job!), so I’m not going to try to encapsulate everything you could possibly want to know.  Rather I’ll let one of the artists, Colin David Harris, share his experience of involvement through our conversation below, and I’ll include some links at the end to other relevant posts.

west oakland san pablo mural, AHC mural

ARTIST INTERVIEW with Colin David Harris

* How did you get involved in the project?  Did you respond to the Call for Artists put out by the organizing entity, Attitudinal Healing Center (AHC) in Oakland?

I am one of the Art Esteem Instructors that work for the Attitudinal Healing Connection, teaching art enrichment classes during school hours to K-8 students throughout Oakland. I applied for the mural project through them along with two other teachers, and was one of about 12 artists that came together to work on the project.

* I understand AHC orchestrated much of the design work with local middle & high school students.  Were you involved at all in this stage?

I was not involved with the students at McClymonds High School where the students helped to design the mural but was teaching at West Oakland Middle School  in the hopes of working towards another mural concept.  Amana Harris, the director of Art Esteem, worked with the high school students in conjunction with Aaron De La Cruz and lead artist David Burke. (more on these three lead artists)

* Can you talk about the experience of either having input into the design, or working towards executing someone else’s design, depending on answer to previous question?

The design was already complete once the painters were brought into the mix but David Burke worked very well with the crew and had the concept and reference imagery down.  It was a very pleasant experience being able to just paint the students vision and not have to focus on my own.

california hotel, oakland california hotel

* I see from your own blog that you work with all kinds of artistic mediums… mixed media, sculpture, printmaking, painting, etc.  Had you ever worked on a large scale mural before?  If so, how was this experience different (or similar) to previous experiences you had?

I have.  In 2006 I was commissioned by the Hospice to paint a mural in the morgue of Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco.  This was a very solitary and long mural process but extremely rewarding for me personally and professionally.  As an art instructor I have also painted murals at three elementary schools in Oakland through the AHC.  These were large scale murals and at Santa Fe Elementary school Ryan Martin and I installed 12 murals that were composed of hundreds of one by one foot wooden tiles that we mounted onto the walls all around the school.   The mural on San Pablo Ave. is the largest piece that I have worked on so far.

* What made you want to be involved in this project?

I wanted to be apart of this project to work with a team of artists, and to be apart of such a large scale work that will affect the community so directly.  For 2 years I lived on San Pablo ave. and on 34th st. close to where the mural is located.  I have worked at various schools in the neighborhood,  and done a few steel installations as well.  I have a strong desire to add as much joy and beauty to the neighborhood as possible, there are way too many dreary buildings with huge blank walls around not to!  It would be great to see West Oakland looking like the mission district in San Francisco in the next five years.

AHC mural, Art Esteem

* How many other artists were involved and how did you all work together?  Did any of the middle & high school students who worked on the design also paint?

There were about twelve other artists working on this project including an additional six volunteers and high school students that painted throughout.  David Burke was the lead artist and he really spent a lot of time orchestrating how we would all work together.  Every day we had to assemble and disassemble the scaffolding and store it at the AHC, it was time consuming but everyone did their part.

* Can you talk about the difference, to you personally, between working on a collaborative project like this versus an artistic project you would work on solely as an individual artist?  And the difference between working on a public street project versus something that might only be seen in a gallery?

I love working collaboratively with other artists though most of my work has been done alone.  I have found that to be the main downside as an artist is that you are forced to work in a solitary environment the majority of the time.  While I enjoy solitude more than most I also find that there is more of a spontaneous playfulness that happens when working with others. It was amazing working with this group of painters, all doing our part to complete the massive undertaking. I have often gravitated more towards playing music because of this sense of connection and try to balance between music and fine art as much as possible.

Lindsey Millikan, Rafasz

* My understanding is the goal of the project (and the continued mural series – 5 more are to be painted in the next 3 years) is to “revitalize, beautify, uplift, positively transform and bring hope to the West Oakland/Emeryville area.”  What are your thoughts about art and its power to transform?

Art has an amazing power to heal, uplift, and shine a light of hope in dark dreary places of the mind.  I have seen people whose self image is as negative as you can imagine, find a creative voice for the first time, and in an instant their reality changes.  Most people are discouraged from pursuing creative options as a career by their parents and the school system, and suffer through numerous failings in life because they can’t easily integrate into the system. Art or any form of creative expression for that matter can transform lives, instill confidence and change how someone perceives the world around them, from a locked door to an open and inviting place of self discovery.  In underserved communities such as West Oakland it can really make a difference in presenting positive outlets for the youth and positive changes to the visual landscape that negatively affect peoples psyches over time.   Murals such as this can, if nothing else, at least brighten up someones day for the 5 minutes they walk past that before was just another 5 possibly miserable minutes through the same old concrete jungle.

Peace and Freedom, Darius Varize, Antonio Ramos

* Over how long of a period did the actual painting take place?  And did you receive any kind of feedback from local neighborhood folks and random passerbys while painting?

The painting of the mural took place over 18 days of straight painting from early in the morning to 5pm every day.  Very few painters worked that entire time but it was still a breakneck schedule that got the job done.  The feedback we received was overwhelming from the constant deafening horns and thankful exaltations to the many pedestrians that personally thanked us and talked to us during the whole process.  There was a very obvious powerful change in the energy under the freeway and it was great to be a part of that shift. It was truly an amazing experience.

* OHA’s website mentions that they surveyed residents of the local neighborhood to describe positive & negative aspects of the neighborhood, as well as their hopes and dreams for the community and future public art pieces.  How important is this step to the process?

I would say that this is a very important step in the process. It isn’t as meaningful to fill a neighborhood with outsiders’ ideas of beautification.  Not to say that people from outside the community can’t have input and create  public art pieces, but to really raise the community up and instill a sense of pride and unity it’s best to have as much input and participation from the people in the neighborhood as possible.

Shaina Yang, Amana Harris

* The mural actually reminds me of a much older mural on San Pablo that I featured on my blog (https://oaktownart.com/2010/04/22/street-tattoo-mural-san-pablo/) in that it depicts positive scenes of an engaged and diverse community.  My understanding is the older mural featured real persons and that the images were fashioned together from photographs.  Does the new mural feature “real” people?  Any thoughts on similarities or differences between the two?

The Mural does feature real people.  Many of the people depicted are students at McClymonds that posed for the images.  There is also a historical aspect involved near the far left of the mural there are Blues and Jazz musicians painted who actually played at the California Hotel next door and other venues in the area back in the day.  They also used real houses from the neighborhood in the painting too.

* Lastly, what’s your favorite color?

Blue

mural designed by high school students, McClymonds High School

For more info…

Oakland Mural Project Press

Colin David Harris’s blog post: The West Oakland Super Heroes Mural Project

Our Oakland’s blog post: New mural adorns Oakland underpass

Art Esteem, self-awareness, mindfulness and compassion