Tag Archives: uptown

21 Grand is Right!

So my final stop during last friday’s Art Murmur was  21 Grand, which was hosting their first ever juried exhibition, titled “Wrong!”


I first experienced 21 Grand as an experimental music venue many years ago, when it was still  located at 21 Grand Avenue.  They’ve moved a couple times since, their last location abandoned to make way for luxury lofts and Starbucks. Ahhh, the ever-present struggle of the artist… But they’ve been around since before Art Murmur was even a conception, so it’s nice to see that they’re still going strong.

They focus on experimental music and arts, and can be found just down 25th street from Oakopolis and The Moon, right next door to Smythe’s Accordion Center, which looks like a pretty cool spot too.  Check out the baby doll with angel wings playing accordion.  Kind of twisted, eh?


The WRONG! exhibit focused on works examining ethical misdeeds and wrongdoings in the “decade of wrong.” I snapped a couple quick picks… these little stickers are those tiny little dots that galleries often use to indicate a piece of art is sold.  I found this collection fascinating… almost pornographic. But I think the tiny drawings on these store bought stickers also ask us to question our ideas of what constitute “Fine Art”.  Very cool.

I thought I grabbed a flyer with the artists’ info, but can’t find it now. I am lame. Sorry. But the show is up until November 1st, and there’s lots more to see. Go check it out.


Moon over Oakopolis

My first stop after leaving the Oakland Arts party at Frank Ogawa plaza was Oakopolis Creativity Center (OCC) on 25th Street. I had read that their current exhibit was titled “Why the Bunny?” and I was intrigued.

I also knew that a tiny venue called The Moon shared quarters next door to Oakopolis.  I had been there before and was amazed by the beautiful handmade creations artfully displayed within, not to mention their collection of moustaches on sticks.  Very fun!

Here’s a shot of the outside as I was on my way in…  You can see the gorgeous wrought iron work on the windows, and lovely signage.


I didn’t take any shots inside The Moon because the space really is tiny, and chock full of stuff, and people too. You’ll just have to go see for yourself. Their specialty seems to be handmade clothing items and many of them are kind of unbelievable. I saw something akin to a wedding gown that had been fashioned together out of individual 2 inch scraps of seemingly hundreds of different white fabrics that the artist had collected over the years. It was stunning! Forgive me for not getting the artist’s name. In addition to clothes, they have funky buttons, hand made cards, and much more. Please check them out.

Next door, Oakopolis had the hallway approaching the gallery in back and the gallery itself filled with Sas Colby’s “Why the Bunny?” exhibit. Her artist statement for the exhibit told that she had started drawing bunnies as a daily routine during a difficult period in her life. She found comfort in the drawings, both getting to know the character through repetition, but also allowing it to develop and change over time. The bunny became an alter ego for Colby that took many different forms. The show included twelve years of drawings and books, and it was fun to see the various representations of the bunny… sometimes the comforting stuffed animal of our childhood memories… sometimes the menacing trickster with wicked smile. Great stuff.

I hit one other gallery before heading home… check back tomorrow!


First Friday Frolic! ~ ART MURMUR

Ok… so I’m going to try something a little different for my post today. Instead of just focusing on one piece of art, we’re going to revisit all of the fun & fantastic happenings I experienced on my “first friday” last night… I’ll do this once a month and call it “First Friday Frolic!”

For starters, my girlfriend and I met at Flora for a drink. Flora is located in a gorgeous art deco building with stunning tile & faux-metal work, just across the street from the equally impressive Fox Theater (more on this in future posts…) Flora is, hands down, one of the (if not the) best restaurants in Oakland, and boy can they make cocktails! I had something called a Salt and Pepper which was a fantastic grapefruity concoction, rimmed with salt & pepper. YUM! My girlfriend had two cocktails (she is a lush) and was equally enthusiastic about both of hers. The bartenders are true artisans and it was educational and entertaining to watch as they shaked, stirred, strained, and dripped their delicious & beautiful elixers. We also had some small plate delectable snacks at the bar… and all I can say is, you simply must go.
I had to duck out of Flora 1/2 way through my drink to ply my parking meter with quarters. Oakland meters are now functional until 8pm! Yes, you read that right, 8pm folks. It’s a drag, but hey… we need the cash. Don’t forget to feed those meters… I saw several tickets on cars last night.

On my way I walked past a slew of murals hung around a development site… they seem to be projects from various Art & Soul Festivals from years past. Really great stuff…


I also made my way past the Great Western Power Company building which, I just learned, was converted into a rock climbing gym in early 2008. The building originates to the 1920’s and was a steam-powered generation plant into the 1930’s until it was bought out and decommissioned by rival PG&E.  Touchstone Climbing did a lovely job renovating the building, which adds to the growing list of historic revival buildings downtown.  The painted figures on the old smokestack are a relatively new addition… very cool! Didn’t I tell you Oakland was cool?

Next it was on to the murmur… Art Murmur that is. Art Murmur as most folks know by now, is Oakland’s answer to San Francisco’s First Thursdays. First Fridays are way cooler…

We made our first stop into Mercury 20… highlights for me were the watery underworld abstracts upstairs (can’t find artist’s name), Mary V. Marsh‘s ink drawings on remants of old library cards, pieces of newsprint, etc., and finally the quirky and comical workings of Julie Alvarado… how can you not love a T-Rex playing the accordian? The music was quite good too… lovely stringed duo playing live.
After that, we strolled on up to the clusterf&*! around Johansson Projects and Rock, Paper, Scissors. This is hipster central, where the real party is, though I’m not sure that’s the real draw of Art Murmur for me. There are a lot of talented artist’s in Oakland and I want to see what they’re doing. Of course, it’s fun to have cocktails at Flora first!

The alley between the two was full of artists plying their wares… some pretty cool stuff. But I have to say it was kind of hard to see stuff (or maybe I’m just old)… I think they need to string the alley with lights like on Belden Lane in San Francisco… give it that Euro-feel. It would be pretty!

I loved the work of artist Terri Saul. She had a little table of funky and beautiful paintings for really reasonable prices. If I hadn’t spent all my cash at Flora, I would have bought something. I will find her again…

We blasted through Mama Buzz and then passed this adorable little Art Cart on our way back to the car. They do art on the spot and have all kinds of supplies and little tables and chairs… it’s so cute! I feel a little guilty telling you that we did not stop and spontaneously make art. We should have. But we are old and we were tired.


Oh.. I almost forgot to mention Luka’s. Luka’s is a staple. One of the first to brave the neighborhood which really didn’t exist a few years ago… there was just the Paramount and that was it. In fact, I remember the old Hofbrau that Luka’s is now housed in. Their food was terrible. I didn’t like it when my mom made corned beef, and I can’t say I like it when anyone else does either. But you went to the Hofbrau for the large cheap beers before shows at the Paramount. Now we are blessed to be able to get better beers, and much better food. Thank you Luka’s!