I have an embarrassing confession to make – until last night, I had never been to the Oakland Art Murmur. It always seems like I’m out of town on the first Friday of the month, or I simply forget it’s the first Friday, or I’m just too exhausted at the end of the week.
But I’m so glad I finally made it out to the galleries!
At about 7:30 last night I met up with a co-worker of mine and headed to Awaken Cafe, where they were showcasing Concrete and Steel, a photography exhibit by Jorin Bukosky. I like taking pictures of odd, sometimes seemingly ugly objects too so I really appreciated this exhibit. Especially the photo of the steep, long escalator in a subway station.
There were dozens and dozens of people inside and outside Awaken – I’ve never seen so many people on 14th Street (well, except during a protest).
After leaving Awaken, we turned and walked down Broadway to Telegraph. My co-worker, who recently moved here from Chicago, kept commenting on the beautiful buildings (like my favorite Oakland building at the V intersection of Broadway and Telegraph), and I realized he had never been to Uptown! I felt like a bad friend but was glad to share his appreciation and wonder, as I played tour guide, explaining the history of the Fox Theater, pointing out all the buildings that used to be medical marijuana dispensaries, telling him about Flora (which incidentally used to be a dispensary).
We soon arrived at the heart of the Art Murmur, at 23rd and Telegraph, and I was amazed at how many people crowded the streets and the galleries. It was so inspiring to see hundreds of people in downtown Oakland on a Friday night! Every gallery was packed – as you entered, the temperterature rose 10-20 degrees and you had to maneuver quite a bit just to get around. So if you get claustrophobic, the Art Murmur might not be for you.
I found most of the art I saw last night to be at least visually interesting, but there were three standouts of the evening:
- Outpost at Johansson Projects, featuring David Hamill and Jeff Konigsberg: I think I could have spent hours in this gallery if it wasn’t so crowded. I really appreciated the play of light and dark lines that created a visual depth to the paintings and drawings. I’m not doing the best job of explaining this so do yourself a favor and head down there sometime this month – they’re open Thurs-Sat from 12-6.
- The laser cut butterflies at Ego Park: There were about 20 paper butterflies in glass display cases that had extremely intricate designs laser cut into them. I have no idea who the artist was, but the work was inspired by a British military spy who used to enter enemy camps and draw maps hidden within drawings of butterflies. Also, Ego Park was serving up some delicious sangria.
- The Poor Man’s Art Show at Rock Paper Scissors Collective, presented by Everybody Get Up: Incredibly creative paintings… on cardboard! There were hundreds of art pieces, and they were all on sale for under $50 (which stood in stark contrast to the other galleries, where few works sold for under $1000). Go check it out – chances are that if you really like something, you can afford it.
Besides the fun in the galleries, there were street musicians, ranting stilt walkers, and neat city images being projected onto a nearby building.
The only regret I have is not printing out the map of the galleries to bring with me, as we missed quite a few. I plan to be back again soon, and if you haven’t made it out to the Art Murmur yet, make sure to mark the next one – Friday, October 3rd – on your calendar now!
First friday of every month from 6-10pm (individual gallery times vary)
Uptown Oakland, mostly between Broadway and Telegraph, and Grand and 29th
Accessible by 19th Street BART station or by AC Transit lines 1/1R, 51, 72, 11, 12, 59
(I consider the Oakland Art Murmur to be an essential Oakland experience. Read about other essential Oakland experiences here.)