Category Archives: east oakland

Some Fun Stuff for your Weekend…

Today you get a list. You love lists. Right?

Here’s a smattering of events happening this weekend. Not comprehensive. Just a few things I thought sounded interesting…

FRIDAY – May 2nd

  • Art Murmur (of course) – It’s First Friday again. With this week of ridiculous summer weather wrapping up, I imagine tonight will be quite a party. For those actually interested in seeing some art, comprehensive list of openings/exhibits here.
  • Project Youthview – 10th Annual Film Screening & Awards Night – At the incredible iconic Paramount Theatre, this event showcases 12 select youth-created film shorts from across the Bay Area, including music videos, documentaries, and animation pieces. The featured 2013 Sundance-winning Documentary Short, Rich Hill, will also be screened. 6:30pm-9:30pm. Cost $20 adults; $7 youth
  • Pro Arts Gallery 40th Birthday Party – a free, inclusive community celebration, kicking off the open studios season with an opportunity to view the Preview Exhibition featuring works by over 400 artists participating in East Bay Open Studios 2014. 6pm-8pm

SATURDAY – May 3rd

  • California Bookstore Day is today, and if you’ve never heard of this before, don’t worry… this is the inaugural event, celebrating more than 90 independent bookstores across the state. Each will feature parties with music, food, drink, and of course authors. I’ve chosen one below to highlight, but do check out your own indie favorite… they’re sure to have something going on.
  • Diesel Bookstore in Rockridge will be featuring one-of-a-kind, limited-edition items like unique books and art, signed prints and lithographs, plus Mac n’ Cheese courtesy of Homeroom, libations from Emma Christensen–brewer and author of True Brews, live vintage acoustic music with Dodge’s Sundodgers, literary karaoke and cocktails. 10am-9pm
  • Linden Street Brewery Feria Urbana – a hip urban fair made up of local artists and designers selling a wide range of items at accessible prices (jewelry, housewares, clothing, ceramics, etc.) Brewery will have beers on tap, local wine tasting, food trucks, and more. Get those Mother’s Day gifts while you’re at it! 12pm-5pm
  • Jack London Square Vintage Car & Truck Show – showcasing more than 60 vintage cars, trucks and motorcycles from the 1920s to 1960s, the waterfront will transform into an auto mecca showcasing rare vehicles. Enjoy live music, delicious eats from Jack London Square’s fantastic restaurants. 10am-4pm
  • Life Size Mousetrap Launch Party at NIMBY – Hosting a kid’s program in the afternoon featuring the Life Size Mousetrap, local gypsy junk rockers Junk Parlor, kids activities, and more. At night doors will open for the “grown-up” kids. They’ll run the Life Size Mousetrap and feature performances from local luminaries of music, dance, aerial acrobatics, burlesque, and more. With full bar, food vendors, a night market and more fun than you can throw a bowling ball at… kid’s program 2-5pm ($5 donation/family); party 9pm-2am

SUNDAY – May 4th

  • Maifest in Oakland – celebrating the cultures of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland through food, beer, music, and dance. Hosted by Oakland Nature Friends this spring festival takes place at our local Tourist Club not far from Joaquin Miller Park (I’ve been to the Marin Tourist Club which is always great fun and can’t wait to check out our local version). Bier, Spätzle, Bratwurst, Kartoffelsalat, and Würstchen. YUM. Bring your Lederhosen! Check here for details. 12pm-5pm. Cost $10

Oakland Tourist Club, Maifest in Oakland, Oakland Nature Friends

Such Singing in the Wild Branches

I recently learned that April is National Poetry Month. Who knew? I didn’t.

I feel like poetry has waned from the day-to-day experiences of most of us. Aside from insertions in the New Yorker or NPR pieces on the current poet laureate, when do we ever hear poetry anymore? It seems as we move farther and farther away from our schooling––studying Shakespeare’s sonnets, writing our own iambic pentameter, or creating simple haikus––our adult work becomes increasingly specialized and often filled with meaningless corporate mumbo jumbo (actualizing monetization strategies, driving bottom line results, blah blah blah). Where’s the soul in it all?

This is why poetry is important. It’s that form of art in which words become more than simply the sum of their parts. More than a bottom line. By strictly constructing with words selected not just for meaning, but also for aesthetic, phonetic and rhythmic qualities, poems are able to vividly convey the deepest experiences of what it means to be human.

Since there are just a few days left in April, I thought I’d post a little something to honor this most refined artistic mode of writing, with a selection below by Mary Oliver. I like it very much.

And if you’d like to actually hear some poetry, there’s a reading this Friday night at Laurel Bookstore in the Laurel district of Oakland. Local writer, poet, and teacher Alison Luterman will be reading from her new collection of poetry Desire Zoo.

* * *

Such Singing in the Wild Branches

It was spring
and I finally heard him
among the first leaves––
then I saw him clutching the limb

in an island of shade
with his red-brown feathers
all trim and neat for the new year.
First, I stood still

and thought of nothing.
Then I began to listen.
Then I was filled with gladness––
and that’s when it happened,

when I seemed to float,
to be, myself, a wing or a tree––
and I began to understand
what the bird was saying,

and the sands in the glass
stopped
for a pure white moment
while gravity sprinkled upward

like rain, rising,
and in fact
it became difficult to tell just what it was that was singing––
it was the thrush for sure, but it seemed

not a single thrush, but himself, and all his brothers,
and also the trees around them,
as well as the gliding, long-tailed clouds
in the perfect blue sky–––all of them

were singing.
And, of course, so it seemed,
so was I.
Such soft and solemn and perfect music doesn’t last

For more than a few moments.
It’s one of those magical places wise people
like to talk about.
One of the things they say about it, that is true,

is that, once you’ve been there,
you’re there forever.
Listen, everyone has a chance.
Is it spring, is it morning?

Are there trees near you,
and does your own soul need comforting?
Quick, then––open the door and fly on your heavy feet; the song
may already be drifting away.

-Mary Oliver

Red Headed Bird

More Dimond Love

Forgive the focus on my immediate neighborhood these past few posts… I haven’t gotten out much lately! But this collaborative mosaic and paint mural is a stunner and well worth highlighting.

It’s another installment by the folks who brought us the lovely mural on the side of Farmer Joes on Fruitvale Ave. Created by local artist and teacher Debra Koppman, the mural is titled “I LOVE Dimond.” It features a tapestry of images woven together across three panels to portray the diverse and beautiful neighborhood that is the Dimond District. Left and right are elaborate mosaics installed by Martha Trujillo, Brad Holland, and Shardee Thomas, while the center panel features an intricate painting by Mandy Lockwood.

Wonder what this stretch of Mac Arthur used to look like? See further below…

Debbie Koppman, PGE Substation Mural

dimond district mural, mac arthur mural, mandy lockwood

debbie koppman, mosaic mural, mac arthur mural

I couldn’t find a shot of the whole wall pre-mural, but you can imagine from the snippet of dilapidated fence below. I love how you can still see the PG&E substation info in relief within the new mural.

PG&E substation

The project was funded through multiple sources:

  • Oakland Cultural Funding Program – supporting Oakland-based art and cultural activities that reflect the diversity of the city for citizens of and visitors to Oakland. (more on this below)
  • Dimond Night Out (Montclair Lions Club – Howard Neal)
  • Oakland Parks & Recreation (Karen Long)
  • Individual Donors – Edward Norton, Carrie Campbell, Kathleen Russell, John Olson
  • Dimond Improvement Association (DIA) – working on issues and projects ranging from streetscape improvements, business development and crime reduction to beautification and community celebrations.

I’d like to take this opportunity to briefly highlight the Oakland Cultural Funding Program, because it’s nearly that time of year again when they open the applications to their grant funding process. They provide support in three categories: general support to arts & cultural organizations, individual artist projects, and art in the schools.

I’m going to focus on the individual artists (others can visit the link above for more info). Do you have a community art project you’ve always dreamed of executing but couldn’t figure out how to fund? Well here’s a chance to secure some cold hard cash to help make your dream a reality. The individual artist grants max out at $5000 and do have a few requirements to qualify:

  • You must be a resident of Oakland.
  • You can’t have received one of these grants within the past two years.
  • Your project must take place in Oakland and should culminate in a local public outcome for the benefit of the community. Such activities may include, but are not limited to, performances of dance, music or theater, visual art and public art projects, classes and workshops, exhibitions, and literary activities.

It says on their website that the applications should open on April 1st, but I confirmed yesterday that they are not expected until May 1st. The deadline will likely be June 30th, but both dates are still tentative at this time.

If you are interested in applying for a grant, you can sign up for email notification regarding applications, review grant guidelines and recipients from last year, and see answers to frequently asked questions all here:  Oakland Cultural Funding Program.

Love Oakland – Make Art!

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