Tag Archives: fire arts

Oakland Arts Unveiled

So last friday night was another of the First Fridays series in Oakland… I have to admit I was feeling a bit under the weather, so it wasn’t a big night out for me.  But there was some interesting stuff going on and I was able to hit a little bit of it before retiring home to a cat on my lap and a bowl of chicken soup.

First, I was surprised to discover, during my research for Friday night plans, a relatively new website called OaklandArts.org.  Seems that they launched back in June of 2009 as the first-ever centrally located website for all things art related in the city of Oakland… and I thought that’s what my site was going to be!  Well they may have beaten me to the punch, but I think there is room for both of us, don’t you?

Their site still seems a bit buggy to me (ran into some broken links and had trouble sending them a message) but I’m sure they’ll get these things straightened out in due time.

They’ve got a wealth of information about Artists and Art Organizations, Events, Funding Opportunities, and more.  If you are an artist or part of an Arts Organization, you should definitely enter  your info into their growing database: http://www.oaklandarts.org/register.php Be sure to include a photo for best visibility.

This website and a related site 510arts.com, were both highlighted during a party at Frank Ogawa Plaza early Friday evening. The 510arts website is a collaborative effort between the neighboring cities of Richmond, Berkeley, Emeryville, and Oakland, geared towards promoting the greater East Bay as a world class art & cultural destination. Woo hoo!

There was live jazz, a wonderful performance by the Oakland Youth Choir, numerous speakers including our relatively new City Councilperson at large (meaning she is the only councilperson who represents the entire city), Rebecca Kaplan, and installations of various sculptural art pieces on loan courtesy of NIMBY.  Here’s one of Michael Christian‘s Fire Flowers… I didn’t stay late enough to see if it was set up to shoot flames.

The biggest thing I took away from this party was a quote issued by Rebecca Kaplan. She said, “The Oakland Renaissance has begun!!” More on this, and the galleries I hit after the party in my next couple posts…


Have you heard of this thing called Burning Man?

So you had to figure I’d get around to talking about Burning Man during my discussion of metal art, right?

Let me begin by saying I am not an expert on Burning Man. Nor do I play one online.

But I have been to this incredible festival more than once, and one of the most magical things about it, is unbelievable amount of truly fantastical art that folks spend months (or years!) creating, to haul out the desert for this week long spectacle, described as “the world’s biggest party”. It really is.

While cruising down the Mandela Parkway in West Oakland a couple weeks ago, I spotted something looking like an art compound… a fenced in lot filled with trailers and sculptures and some really amazing art. There were walls covered with gorgeous murals which I’ll have to cover in future posts, because for now, we are talking about metal.

Check out these two characters towering over the fence… the tall one must be 30 feet high, if not higher. Huge human figures welded together out of small rings of metal. If my memory (and research) serves me correctly, these were part of Dan Das Mann and Karen Cusalito‘s Crude Awakening sculpture at Burning Man in 2007, in which 8 human figures in varying poses of reverence, led to a 99 ft tall oil derrick that would ultimate blow thousands of gallons of fuel and fire into the air. It was clearly a critique of our consumption of fossil fuels, yet in its critique, it devoured a rather sick amount of fuel in mere seconds. Illogical perhaps, but quite a show!

I was there. We’d positioned ourselves on the front lines, just outside the fencing surrounding the derrick.  But when the guys in the fire retardant suits told us it was going to be “quite intense“, we decided to move back a good 50 feet.  Even so, it was like nothing I have ever experienced (or likely will ever experience again) in my lifetime.  Phew.




Here’s a brief article about the piece by Brian Doherty (with photo by Lane Hartwell)… http://www.wired.com/underwire/2007/08/crude-awakening/

And here’s a short clip of the explosion:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nj3mWMdv978&feature=related

Obviously the derrick was destroyed (did you catch the sinister laugh that accompanied it’s demise?), but the human figures, or at least two of them, clearly live on.  I wonder where the other 6 now rest…