Category Archives: uptown

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

Celebrating Oakland: Neighborhood Love Today & Lit-Crawl Tonight!

I love Oakland. You do too, right? Here are two fun ways to celebrate your love today…

Love Oakland

Love Our Neighborhood Day – 11am to 3pm

The first is North Oakland’s Golden Gate Love Our Neighborhood Day, an Open Streets event that closes off approximately 30 blocks of Oakland and Emeryville streets from car traffic to open them for walking, dancing, bicycling, skateboarding and all-ages fun from 11 am to 3 pm. Nearly a dozen restaurants are participating and  food trucks will be on site, as well as roller derby, bicycle tuneups, a healing hub, a park zone, music & dance, arts & crafts, and so much more.

The event is part of an Open Streets Initiative, Oaklavia, produced by Walk Oakland Bike Oakland (WOBO) to encourage people to play, move, and exercise on safe auto-free streets.  It’s a great opportunity to meet your fellow Oaklanders, and get to know local businesses & community resources along the route. Here’s the best map and a list of event activities.

For more info, Oakand Local has a nice writeup about the event and the Golden Gate neighborhood at large: Oakland’s Golden Gate Neighbors Build Community…


Beast Crawl – 5pm to 9pm

Next up is Uptown’s third annual Beast Crawl: a free festival that showcases the literary diversity and talent of performers with deep roots in the East Bay. It takes place across dozens of venues throughout Uptown (map here) which you are encouraged to support with your hard-earned dollars.

The event is structured as three separate 1-hour “legs” and during each leg (5-6, 6:30-7:30, and 8-9) there are nearly a dozen readings to choose from. There’s no way to attend all of them, unless you know how to replicate yourself or time-travel, so check out their list of events to see what interests you most. It should be a ton of fun!

 

OakCatVidFest – Support the East Bay SPCA!

Tomorrow is OakCatVidFest at the Great Wall. The festival opens at 3pm, with videos beginning once dark falls. I went last year with my mom and we had a blast! The videos are hilarious – some classics you’re sure to know (how is it I never get tired of Cat Ninja?) and plenty of new material you’re sure to love. We got there late and actually missed all of the adoption possibilities so if you’re interested in actually seeing some kitties and maybe even taking one home, do get there early. I imagine this year will be even more crowded than last. The real challenge was finding and securing a good and comfortable vantage point once the videos start rolling. I can’t make it this year due to a bridal shower (bah!) but I hope you all can enjoy.

All proceeds from the event benefit our local East Bay SPCA. It’s a wonderful organization that I love supporting because it’s given me an immeasurable amount of joy in my life. See below for the story…

oakcatvidfest

It was 2008. I was facing a major milestone birthday at the same time the relationship with my significant other was faltering, hell imploding. I was depressed. Like, seriously depressed. I needed to do something.

I decided my birthday present to myself would be new running shoes. Nothing like a little exercise to kick my blues-fueled-stagnation in the pants. I went to See Jane Run in Rockridge and got “rock star” parking right in front–no small feat on this stretch of College Avenue. For once something felt easy. Maybe my stars were turning…

As I approached the store I couldn’t help but notice the East Bay SPCA sidewalk display next door. There were cages lined and stacked into a thick wall, each containing adorable creature(s). I love animals and decided to take a closer look. I’m sure the staff saw me coming from the moment I got out of my car… Crazy cat lady approaching–an easy close.

As I strolled down the wall of cages, peeking in each, poking fingers between wires, “here kitty, kitty…” I couldn’t help but be reminded of my old cat Kitty who had passed away about a year earlier at the ripe old age of eighteen. I missed having a little critter to greet me when I got home from work, someone to curl on my lap while working at the computer or watching TV. Here were lots of sweet older cats, and napping litters of kittens, and as I greeted each, I wondered if I was ready…

I pushed on to the shoe store, intent to fulfill my original mission, but after completing it and exiting the store with shoebox under arm, there were the sweet homeless cats and kittens, still waiting to find a good home. I decided this was not mere coincidence, but rather the alignment of mysterious workings in the universe, trying tell me “You need to take one of these home.”

I combed the display wall again and settled myself in front of a cage that contained a litter of five small kittens. They were all black and white like dairy cows, except one. The smallest one was gray and white. I decided she was the runt and outcast of the family and that, for this reason, I must take her (always a fan of the underdog, or undercat in this case).

Of course the staff person from the East Bay SPCA was savvy. And I was depressed and searching. And so as I discussed with her the possibility of adopting this little fluff of gray and white, she adeptly steered me towards taking a second kitten too. “They do much better in pairs.” Wily woman.

I scanned the rest of the small tribe and noted that one other looked different from the rest. A small black one, lacking the patchwork of white, sat off to the side by herself. She was my second undercat. And then it was done. A short batch of paperwork, the processing of a credit card, the handing over of a cardboard carrier with two tiny life forms inside, and I was a cat-mom once again. It was one of the smartest decisions I’ve made.

These two have brought so much joy into my life. The running shoes helped too. But these sweet adorable sisters never cease to entertain, soothe, love. Meet Pickle & Pepper. These are their baby pictures. They recently turned six.

kittens kittens2

So this is my pitch to support the East Bay SPCA. They are doing wonderful work to improve the welfare of animals here in the East Bay. They make it so easy to adopt. A very reasonable fee covers everything the animals need in their first year of life (vaccines, microchip, annual exam, spay/neuter, and more). I think I even got a discount for taking two. So if you’ve ever thought of adopting, now’s the time. Go forth. Adopt. And may the kittens prosper!

 

 

 

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

Oakland’s Guardian Angel Strikes Again

Spotted this on a storefront in Uptown while on my way to a recent gallery show. As you can see it’s an open letter to the People of Oakland, but the rest of the photo is a little hard to read so I’ve included the poster’s inspiring text below. Though not technically signed, it looks to be the work of Oakland’s Guardian Angel whom I first wrote about in my story on Kuhl Frames.

oakland guardian angel, oakland's guardian angel

TO THE PEOPLE OF OAKLAND

Dear Friends:
It is up to you what the future of Oakland will be. Oakland is no longer a village. It is a city, a growing one. It is your duty to keep it growing, keep it prosperous.

Oakland, with its wealth, beauty and brilliant future, is an ideal attained by pioneers who struggled for years over innumerable hardships. The cement, the steel, the mortar and glass and the thousand and one things which go into Oakland, was not conceived overnight.

I realize the future of Oakland is far beyond human imagination. I thank you for your wonderful work. So partake of her hospitality and prosperity; invest, build, prosper, and live happy in Oakland.

“So partake of her hospitality and prosperity; invest, build, prosper, and live happy in Oakland.” I like that.

Thank YOU Guardian Angel!

Get Your Black History Month On…

black history month quotes

There’s just one week left. So if you haven’t yet done something to honor our black brothers and sisters of Oakland, here are a slew of diverse and interesting options to choose from this weekend…

Friday – 2/21

  • African American Heritage through Storytelling (2pm)

    Kirk Waller is a storyteller who utilizes his musicality, physicality, emotion and spoken word to convey a wide array of African and African American Folktales, Stories and Legends. Fun for the whole family.
    Oakland Public Library, Main Branch 125 14th St., Oakland 510-238-3134

  • Blackball Universe: Black Minus Afrika (7pm – 12am)

    Black Minus Afrika is an exhibition that takes a look at modern perceptions of Africa as well as contemporary notions of ‘Blackness’. The exhibit features art by Oakland-based artist Gathinji Mbire, among many others, and runs through the end of March. This reception is FREE and open to the public and will feature refreshments and music by Fantastic Negrito.
    Blackball Universe – 230 Madison St., Oakland 94607

Saturday – 2/22

  • Black History Month Walking Tour (10am – 12pm)

    FREE downtown walking tours highlighting African-American leaders who helped shape present-day Oakland. Learn how Lionel Wilson, Delilah Beasley and Marcus Foster changed the city and the Bay Area. Simply meet at AAMLO shortly before 10am to participate.
    African American Museum and Library at Oakland – 659 14th St.
    510-238-3234  www.oaklandnet.com

  • The 18th Annual Art of Living Black Exhibition (12pm – 6pm)

    Bay Area Black Artists Exhibition and Self-Guided Art Tour features emerging, mid-career and established artists of African American descent from the San Francisco Bay Area. FREE and open to the public.
    American Steel Studios: 1960 Mandela Parkway, Oakland 94607

  • Black Vines: A Toast to Black Wineries & Diverse Art (1pm – 4pm)

    The third annual celebration of art, culture, and wine, bringing together African American artists and vintners. Tickets presale $30; door $40 purchase tickets here
    Betti Ono Gallery – 1427 Broadway, Oakland 94612

    African American Heritage through Storytelling (2pm)

    Kirk Waller is a storyteller who utilizes his musicality, physicality, emotion and spoken word to convey a wide array of African and African American Folktales, Stories and Legends. Fun for the whole family.
    Oakland Public Library, Montclair Branch 1687 Mountain Blvd., Oakland 510-482-7810

  • Blackball Universe: Black Minus Afrika (7pm – 12am)

    Black Minus Afrika is an exhibition that takes a look at modern perceptions of Africa as well as contemporary notions of ‘Blackness’. The exhibit features art by Oakland-based artist Gathinji Mbire, among many others, and runs through the end of March. This reception is FREE and open to the public and will feature refreshments and music by Fantastic Negrito.
    Blackball Universe – 230 Madison St., Oakland 94607

Sunday 2/23

  • The 18th Annual Art of Living Black Exhibition (12pm – 6pm)

    Bay Area Black Artists Exhibition and Self-Guided Art Tour features emerging, mid-career and established artists of African American descent from the San Francisco Bay Area. FREE and open to the public.
    American Steel Studios: 1960 Mandela Parkway, Oakland 94607

  • Freedom Songs: Valerie Troutt, Amy Lacour, Tiffany Austin & Kimiko Joy (6:30pm – 8:30pm)

    Four Bay Area vocalists in the round featuring selections from the traditions of gospel, spiritual, folk, and soul. 6pm doors, $10-15 suggested donation
    2013 Studio Grand – 3234 Grand Avenue, Oakland 94610

Passage By Night: from stuffy silk ties to whimsical otherworldly forms

passage by night, silk tie sculpture
Passage By Night is half of the gallery show I intended to see last week. Due to an unfortunate incident of pilferage I missed the exhibit In Search of Sheba at Warehouse 416, but was able to catch the tail end of this showing at Classic Cars West, arriving just as collaborative duo Isaac Amala and Liz Simpson were wrapping up their talk, but still in time to walk amongst these fantastical creations and snap a few photos.
passage by night, silk tie sculpture
There are definitely some interesting things at play in this show. They’ve recontextualized a common everyday item representative of the “uniform” for male power and prestige into abstracted forms, collectively “reminiscent of a biological ecosystem.” An interesting tension exists between this larger ecosystem which includes “space to enter, navigate, and explore,” and the individual pieces each with “their own distinct personality and potential narratives” resulting from the very thoughtfully arranged colored, patterned, and textured ties.
passage by night, silk tie sculpture
The show is only up through February 22nd, so if you’re interested in walking amongst the weighty presence of thousands of neckties, freed from their collared confines and sculpted into these imaginative “creatures”, get yourself to Classic Cars West this Saturday from 1pm – 5pm. It’s the last available public viewing.

Classic Cars West – 411 26th Street – Oakland, CA 94612
passage by night, silk tie sculpture