Category Archives: chinatown

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…


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


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!

Radio Radio by Mark Mason

laney college radio, college radio, alternative radio, oakland internet radioHey Peeps… here come’s my second ever guest post. Mark Mason has picked up the slack I’ve let gather in a wake of meetings, deadlines, to-do lists, and spreadsheets.  Thank you Mark.  And thanks to the fabulous folks at 9th Floor Radio for pitching the idea. As you all likely know by now I’m a bit of a music freak and a big fan of all things eclectic, interesting, and alternative (which no longer means what it used to). 9th Floor Radio fits the bill with 20+ shows that cater to musiphiles of all stripes, and all of it’s immediately downloadable.  I’m listening to an archive of Straight from the Crate as I put this together and I gotta say… it’s pretty damn sweet (because I’m old and I love those old school grooves). But enough of me, here’s Mark’s great writeup…

* * * * * * * *

Radio is dead. Ok, you can still turn the dial and get a crackle and hiss followed by music and chat. But is that really what you want? How many times have you been in your car or at home and tried in vain to find a station which appeals to your sense of restless discovery, only to be confronted with a commercial soaked station full of predictable programming? It’s frustrating.

This is where the internet has breathed new life into the tired old format of radio. Instead of a DJ stifled by advertising commitments you now have the power back in the hands of music lovers.

One such station is 9th Floor Radio, an internet radio station located in Oakland, California. The station, originally broadcasting from the ninth floor of the Laney College administration building, hence the name, has a formidable roster of shows. From the soulful melodic grooves of Her Blue Majesty, the punk, metal and primitive heavy rock of Kick Out the James to the Nu Jazz, Neo Soul and Funk of Jazzology-Remixed, no one need feel left out. All shows are archived at, ready for listeners to download and listen at their leisure.

A show which could be said to embody the spirit of the station and boasts of “always playing the darker weirder and louder side of Rock n Roll” is Dr. Feelbad. The Doctor, otherwise known as Ian Spangler, plays anything from The Melvins and Boris to interviews with the serial killer Ted Bundy– a provocative mix for sure.

When asked why 9th Floor Radio is important he says, “As I enter the booth I’m reminded of my relationship to music. I have some of the strangest, saddest, heaviest, and scariest records anyone ever had the pleasure of owning. I like to use my show as a big ‘go to hell’ to those who believe music is either unimportant or purely to be consumed at their convenience, and the good folks at 9th Floor make it possible for me to do just that.”

And it’s not just the diversity of the station which makes 9th Floor important. With the love of music and freedom of expression at the center, there comes a sense of community. The Doctor agrees, citing station manager Melissa Dale as a major factor for the success of the station:

I can’t say enough about all the work Melissa and her army of technicians do to give validation and exposure to those of us who are obsessed with sounds and music. There are more than 20 shows on 9th Floor, not to mention the television shows that keep us all looking like we know what we’re doing. Shows like Straight from the Crate and Electric Velvet Sound remind us that there’s plenty of older music we’ve never heard before. While shows like The Missing Box and 9thUBRadio help us breathe easy knowing there are plenty of thoughts we have yet to think. All of this is delivered to you commercial free, thanks to Melissa’s devotion to making sure the almighty dollar won’t poison the intentions of all involved.

It is exactly this kind of heartfelt enthusiasm, the very lifeblood of the station, that will sustain and grow it stronger in the years to come.

Radio is dead. Long live radio.

Mark Mason is a writer from Oakland, California. He has recently completed work on his debut novel, for which he is seeking representation. For a sample of Mark’s work go to

the writing’s on the wall…

oakland graffiti, oakland graffiti writing

When I started this blog in 2009 my idea was to post a picture every day.  It soon became something else, but that was the start. And I’ve decided, at least for a bit, to try to get back to the start. Because frankly, I’m having a bit of a hard time re-starting where I left off, and I think what’s hanging me up is the writing.  So what the hell… Who needs words when pictures are worth thousands of ’em?

Though I haven’t had the bandwidth for writing anything good or interesting, I have been taking pics here and there. So I think I’ll just start posting a few without saying so much, although I do want to say I think this is a pretty cool shot.