Category Archives: lower hills

BEAT the HEAT: Five best swim spots in Oaktown

lyons pool oakland, best oakland swimming spots

Lyons Pool – Dimond Park

[NOTE: I updated this post in 2014 with new links and current schedules. See updated post here.]

It’s hot.  Too hot.  This is why I left L.A. many years ago.  Well… just one of the long list of reasons really.

But back to my point. It’s expected to top out near 90 today, so if you’re like me and you’re melting into a puddle of gritty discontent, here are a few sweet spots to cool you down and freshen you up!

  1. Lake Temescal – For some, the thought of swimming in non-chlorinated water is not appealing (I’m thinking of my boyfriend’s daughter who said, “EWW! it’s slimy!”) But for me, it’s simply the best. No burning eyes, no itching skin, and you get to swim with the ducks & fishes.  What could be better than that?? See last year’s post Sum Sum Summertime! for more detail and the history of this urban oasis.
    $3 for beach access; $2 for kids/seniors; parking can cost extra

    Open daily 5am to 10pm; lifeguards on duty 11am to 6pm
  2. Lyons Pool (Dimond Park) – This outdoor pool set amidst old growth oaks & buckeyes is heated year round and is delicious to step into, especially on cool evenings or foggy mornings. Serious lap-swimmers seem frustrated by its unconventional lanes and warm temperature, but I think this spot is just right, and nowhere near as crowded as Temescal.
    $5 to swim; $4 with multi-pass
    public swim: 2:45pm – 4:15pm M-F; 2:30pm – 4:30pm S/S
    lap swim: 6:30am – 9am/12pm – 2pm/7:30pm – 9pm M-F; 11:15am – 2:15pm S/S
  3. Trefethen Aquatic Center (Mills College) – Another lovely outdoor pool complete with hot tub and lawn areas for lounging, I haven’t been to this one in awhile but used to go frequently when friends lived in San Leandro. I’ve heard the pool isn’t chlorinated but uses another technique (oxygenation?), but I can’t confirm this. This one’s also a tad more expensive than other options, but many folks claim this is the nicest pool in Oakland.
    $7 to swim; $5.60 with multi-pass

    check their schedule here, ‘cuz it’s complicated and will be changing next week.
  4. Temescal Pool – This one’s a north Oakland favorite for it’s year round heated waters and easy access location. Featuring salinated water which means less chlorine (yay!) and lots of props to modify your swim routine (kickboards, fins, etc) this pool is extremely popular and can be quite crowded when the weather’s nice.
    $5 to swim; $4 with multi-pass

    public swim:
    2:45pm – 4:45pm Sat only
    lap swim:
    6:30am – 8:30am/12:30pm – 2:30pm/5pm – 7pm M-F; 11am – 2:30pm S/S
  5. Roberts Pool (Roberts Regional Recreation Area) – Another glorious heated outdoor pool, right in the middle of a redwood grove. I only put this one last because, sad to say, I haven’t been here yet. But from the descriptions I’ve read, it sounds like best spot for a lazy summer day of play. Fewer lap swim hours and far more public/recreational swim hours.
    $3 for public swim ($2 for kids/seniors); lap swim is $3.50 or $2.50 with multi-pass
    public swim: 3:30pm – 5pm M; 12:30pm – 5pm Tu-F; 11am – 6pm Sat/Sun
    lap swim:
    7:15pm – 8:15pm M-Th

Dimond – thru the macro lens

A quick photo study
on my way to the bank
and the post office
and back…

I was inspired by Our Oakland’s photo journeys on color, though mine is on texture.

abstract photography, abstract linoleum patterns

Apartment Foyer

water meter, oakland steel, abstract photography

Oakland Iron & Steel

mirror mosaic, sequoia elementary art

Beginning of mosaic project at Sequoia Elementary

peeling paint, recycled wood fence

Fence

white textures, flaky bark, shades of gray, abstract photography, photos of white

Tree & Building

rusted sign

Sign at Sequoia Elementary

tiny teardrops

Groundcover

While shooting this one below, of washed out silt and sand in patterns in on the asphalt in front of a storm drain, a guy asked me “Whatchya doin’ there?”

I said, “I’m making art.”

He said, “It looks wierd!” (Me, taking a picture of the ground, that is.)  Thanks buddy.

washboard pattern, waves, beach in the street

From the rains

abstract photography

Bricks

wood siding, concrete steps, abstract photography

Siding & Steps

macro photography, layers of paint

Painted Driveway

Bottlebrush petals on sidewalk

Bottlebrush

Phoenix Ironworks Oakland

PS – This is the first (of many more to come) assignments from my June blogging e-course… “Write a visual post. Use more images than words.

East Bay Open Studios – don’t let a little rain stop you…

Despite the weather yesterday, we decided to take a little stroll around our neighborhood to check out the local artists participating in East Bay Open Studios. We didn’t make a big production out of it, and you don’t have to either…

It’s easy to focus on a small area, even walkable, with the maps and guides included in the Pro Arts Directory. We just zoomed in on our little stretch of Oaktown and realized if we did a short 10 block loop near our house, we could visit nearly 10 different artists… practically one per block!  Fantastic.  This is why I love Oakland.

oakland map, east bay open studios

We had a lovely stroll… got rained on a bit, but also saw the sun come out and steam the water right off the rooftops.  Gorgeous.

We saw stunningly beautiful ceramics (see Andrea Ciak), wonderful mixed media pieces (Peter Gee), textiles, paintings, and drawings at the nearby church which converted its old Sunday school classrooms into Art studios… brilliant! (See Traci Boya, Angie Wilson, Abby King-Kaiser, Jacqueline Palacios, and Suzanne Yee – creator of Mona Lisa in chalk below).

Suzanne Yee, portrait artist

On our way looping back home, we made one last stop at the studio of half of the team producing the Dimond Farmer Joes’ Murals… Hidden Jewels. (Amanda Lockwood) It was fascinating to see her personal work, so much more complex and intricate than the translations of children’s imagery used in the murals. Her co-artist displayed incredibly whimsical doll creations fashioned out of re-purposed materials as well as beautiful constructions of paper (Barbra MacNair).

I didn’t take many photos of the art so you’ll just have to go see for yourselves. Or better yet, discover the artists in your own neighborhood.  Or explore a new part of town you haven’t been to before.  Meet your fellow Oaklanders.  Have an adventure!

You can also check out studios next weekend, but not all artists are showing all days, so be sure to check Pro Arts’ Guide (available in the recent East Bay Express, at participating artists’ studios, or online).

ART INTERVIEW: Kim Larson

kim larson art, kim larson mosaics, impressionistic mosaic

Kim Larson is a local mosaic artist who stretches this medium to an extent we haven’t yet seen. She often works in three dimensions, crafting whimsical sculptures for the home or garden, and has a new body of work that pushes her two-dimensional pieces into the realm of abstract impressionism.

We’ve seen a couple of her public pieces already (New Art Walk in Jingletown), but today we’re going to see a number of works from her private collection, some even in progress.

I had a chance to talk with Larson about the medium of mosaics, her process, and art in general while touring her home, studio, and garden – all fantastically adorned with mosaics!  scroll below photos for interview

Below and above you see some of Larson’s nudes series… these are a relatively new exploration for her, focused on more abstract representations.
fine art mosaics by kim larson, nudes by kim larson
Below is the basis of a 3-dimensional sculpture. If you remember paper-machéing a piggy bank from a balloon in grade school (I do!), this process is similar, but instead of dredging newspaper strips through flour & water, the form is constructed from mesh strips and a concrete mixture.
mosaic sculpture, concrete form for mosaic
Here we see one of her nearly completed sculptures. Most of the glass pieces have been affixed but the overall piece has not yet been grouted (you can see the gaps between the glass squares). Keep in mind that all these little pieces of glass are cut by hand! Perhaps this why Larson says mosaics are “crazy-making”…
kim larson flounder, kim larson mosaic sculptures

More garden fixtures…
Saundra Warren tiles, garden table
garden mosaic sculptures, kim larson garden mosaics
outdoor mosaics, garden mosaics, oakland mosaic artist
dragon fly mosaics, garden mosaics, kim larson mosaics

INTERVIEW with KIM LARSON

How did you come to be involved in the Jingletown Arts community?  Did you ever live in the neighborhood?

I “discovered” IMA in March 2006, started trying mosaics, took classes and volunteered on several projects. I was also employed there as a production artist from June ’07 – Jan ’08. While I was there I became aware of JABC, saw their printed materials – postcards, posters, etc – and knew I could help! I just love the name “Jingletown” and felt that, as an outsider, I could offer graphic art work and bring more recognition to them.

For a little more info:  http://kimlarsonart.blogspot.com/

I see that you’ve worked in many different artistic mediums (paint, drawing, sculpture, etc.) throughout your artistic career.  Can you talk about how you came to work with mosaics?

I was laid off in 2005 from my graphic art job. I asked the universe for my next step, specifically something I could become obsessed with. And then I happened upon a business card for Mosaic Studio Supply – the store inside IMA. I was curious as to what a mosaic studio is and what it needed to be supplied with. So I went there. I was taken by the shiny, sparkly, colorful products as well as the art on the walls, the classrooms, etc. So I decided to try mosaics.

And what do you find particularly appealing and/or challenging about working in mosaics, as opposed to other mediums?

Appealing? I find mosaics to be crazy-making! At times I have to admit I walk that fine line between sanity and insanity because each cut, each piece, each color, each placement  has to be perfect! Specifically, I like to work with sparkly, mirrored, textured, brightly colored glass. I feel like I am painting with light. The reflective qualities of the glass force the viewer to move around the piece to see it truly take shape and reveal itself. Mosaics using glass is not a static medium. The play of light adds an extra dimension one doesn’t find in many other art forms.

I’ve noticed that some of your work tends to focus on animal forms.  You have some recent mosaic sculptures and older folk art pieces that showcase different animals.  Can you talk about your inspiration here?

This isn’t a deep answer: I think they are just easy. And they appeal to people.  However, mostly I rely on images and visions just popping into my head. One day the image of a frog in a particular position, came into my mind and I started creating small mosaics based on that vision. They were – and are – VERY popular and have sold like hotcakes. [see photo below] It turns out that the spiritual meaning of “frog” is “transition” and I was definitely in transition at that time in my life. That’s why I like to rely on images that pop into my mind. They are authentic to me and will resonate with the viewers.

In general, where do you look for inspiration?

I have synesthesia – my brain is wired in such a way that I see colors when I hear sounds or get a massage or feel physical pain, etc. I also see letters as colors, numbers each have a color…etc. I can “see” music especially – each note and chord is a different color and music is a swirl of shapes and hues in my mind’s eye.

So I am always in touch with the color, music and emotional meaning in the physical world around me. And I can evoke responses in viewers by the colors and shapes I use.

My mind is full of imagery so I don’t look far for inspiration!

You worked on a  couple of the pieces on the new-ish Jingletown Peterson Street Art wall – the Virgin of Guadalupe (as a solo installation) and the mosaic tree with friend and fellow artist Saundra Warren.  Can you talk about the differences in working as a solo artist vs. as a collaborator with others?  Which do you prefer?

I find mosaics to be a very lonely art. One works hunched over the substrate – walking along a precipice of insanity!! – making hundreds if not thousands of decisions a day. Working alone, I can hear my own thoughts and am not distracted. I am not a person who asks others what they think I should do next to a piece of art. I like to keep my own counsel. Then the final product is mine – good, bad or ugly! When I work with others, I happily chat, we make decisions together, I learn from them and it isn’t lonely. However the final product is a collaboration and one must share the accolades.

I like the total control I have over my own fine art pieces.

However I also really like installing mosaic murals – the time when they actually start to go up on a wall involves physical labor and is very exciting. And that is where a finely tuned team is a joy!

When approaching public works of art, is your process any different?  What about your objectives?

When I’ve created public art, I call on my past experience as a graphic artist – creating presentations, working with clients to realize their visions, discussing what will and won’t work in specific situations, designing on the computer, etc.  However I can’t totally rely on my inner inspiration when working with a committee.

My objective is always to make a great piece of art that people love!!

What do you think the role of public art is in our society?

I think the role is at least twofold – to give artists work and to elevate the human spirit. Whenever I see art in a public space I think: Wow, someone – a politician, most likely – had the guts to push for public art! I am always happily amazed to see the range of public art, the styles, colors and ideas that artists come up with. The work can be simply pretty or awe-inspiring or make the viewer ask “how did they do that?” Public art adds a dimension to our lives that is immeasurable. And art where you least expect it is a beautiful thing!

I am always struck by how many regular people hang out their shingles and open their doors during Open Studios here. It’s like people are showing us their hidden world of hopes and dreams to say “I am an artist too”!

Art in public places inspires people’s inner artist!

I see you’ve had a long career as a graphic artist?  Does your commercial work in any way inform your personal?  Or vice versa?

I have the ability to communicate visually – I always have, since I was small. Both the commercial and personal art is intertwined, I’m sure. Although the commercial work is always controlled by the client and that can be very wearing! My personal work is all mine – my inspiration, my choices and ultimately my responsibility.

Did you have any formal training as an artist?

No I really haven’t had much formal training. I spent one year in college as an art major but dropped out for many reasons. I decided to pursue my art path on my own terms and have mostly stayed away from classes and teachers. I have had artistic talent and been getting accolades for it since I can remember. Art materials have always been easy for me to learn. But it has been my responsibility to keep up the discipline to take this talent seriously and develop it.

I’m taking my first mosaic class at the Institute of Mosaic Arts this weekend?  Any advice for me?

I would say that you should learn the materials inside and out. There are “right and wrong” ways to use materials. Then keep up with your artistic development on your own….there is no “right and wrong” there. Discover your own voice – learn to make the materials speak for you.

Thanks Kim!!!

frog mosaics, frog mosaics jingletown, garden frog mosaics