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Oakland Art Murmur

by becca on June 12, 2010

There is no doubt about it: Oakland is awesome. I’ve heard people call it the Brooklyn of the Bay Area (which I disagree with mainly because the Bart stops running at midnight and a taxi costs way more than a Lower Manhattan –> Brooklyn ride). Nevertheless, it’s just over the bridge from SF. It has great restaurants, nightlife, and its very own beautiful lake — great for a 3.5-mile jog or an afternoon picnic. And while we were there, we had the privilege of attending the Oakland Art Murmur.

That Friday night we wandered through the streets of downtown Oakland weaving among hipsters young and old, (really cute) kids, and some perfectly average looking people. In my opinion, a great mix. All sorts of multi-wheeled transportation crawled through the crowds — I’m talking about really big bike type things with 4′ wheels that seat up to four people. The proud owner of snail-shaped iron contraption invited kids to hop in and pull a “reign” that blew fire from the snail’s antennae. Most of the art was all right, but there were some cool crafts, like miniature origami earrings and a guy with a 1920s manually operated sewing machine that would custom stitch names and shapes onto swatches of canvas for a dollar.

After a couple hours imbibing on a local gallery/bar patio, we headed a few blocks away from the crowds to Creative Growth. Creative Growth Art Center serves adult artists with developmental, mental and physical disabilities, providing a stimulating environment for artistic instruction, gallery promotion and personal expression. Artwork fostered in this unique environment is included in prominent collections and museums worldwide. And while I realize I’ve been out of the country, not in the epicenter of art culture like I was in NY, I still think that the art on display was the best I’ve seen in recent memory. The walls are covered in art — all for sale, but much of it already sold. I loved the paintings of jellyfish and birds, owls and cats. There were pedestals adorned with paper-mache masks and an entire warehouse full of ceramics. The place was inspiring and I’m sure the photos don’t do it justice.

Next stop was a place called the Fort Gallery. The neighborhood was a little questionable, and ironically I think it’s really close to our new place. There was a sort of make shift bar in the place selling two things: “Health juice” and absinthe. Evidentally “health juice” was a concoction distributed in very small quantities (less than half a solo cup), made of ginger paste, absinthe (minus the wormwood) and ginger ale. We had a great time watching music in this unique space, but the next day, after ONE of these absurdly named drinks, I felt like I got hit by a bus and struggled to maintain casual conversation.

All in all, fantastic night in Oakland. I think this experience sold me on kicking off our Bay Area residency in this sweet little city.

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