Search results for 'uptown'

Uptown Art Park grand opening this Friday night!

3 Apr

Four years after several Oakland advocates, bloggers, and blog readers saved the space from becoming a surface parking lot, the Uptown Art Park is opening this Friday night! Thanks to hard work by staff in the City’s Public Art Program and funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, Oaklanders and Uptown visitors will soon be able to enjoy several sculptures by local artists. (Read more about our advocacy for the art park in the many blog posts listed at the bottom of this post.)

Here are the details for the grand opening event:

Uptown Art Park Grand Opening!

What: Nine Sculpture Art Pieces by Local Artists, Music, Tours, Food Trucks

Where:  Telegraph & 19th Street

When: Friday, April 5th from 6:30 – 8:30 pm

Facebook Event:

Get There: 19th Street BART Station or Free Broadway Shuttle… or bike there from West Oakland with the East Bay Bicycle Coalition, Walk Oakland Bike Oakland and Bikes4Life: Riders of all ages gather at 5:30pm at Bikes4Life, 1600 7th Street @ Willow in West Oakland (take BART to the West Oakland station) for 1.5 mile ride to the event. Free bike lights courtesy of the City of Oakland (limited supply –arrive by 5:30pm). Bike valet parking provided by Richmond Spokes.

Continue reading

The Uptown art park Bike Bridge sculpture on the horizon

28 Sep

This guest blog post was written by Josie Schimke, the Program Development Associate for the Black Rock Arts Foundation. Through her administrative and program support over the last five years for BRAF, Josie has had the privilege of watching promising art proposals mature into exceptional achievements of public art.

The Black Rock Arts Foundation (BRAF) is close to fulfilling a dream and needs the community’s help. We have art. We have a place to put it. We have 12 extraordinary young artists worth celebrating. All we need now is a few more dollars to make it happen!

Donate to the Kickstarter campaign for The Bike Bridge!

If you’ve been following this blog, then you’ve heard mention of The Bike Bridge. We can’t say enough about this project, and it’s so close to becoming a reality. The City of Oakland has approved the installation of the sculpture in a new park on Telegraph Avenue, between 19th and 20th Streets, adjacent to the beautifully renovated Fox Theater. Continue reading

Uptown art park to open this fall, City puts out call for art

7 Sep

Throughout my blogging hiatus this year, I’ve many times been tempted to blog about things happening in Oakland (particularly upcoming decisions at the Planning Commission and City Council). I’ve stopped myself because I just don’t have the time to start blogging again while I’m campaigning for BART Board and maintaining my full-time job. But I came across news on Facebook yesterday that was far too exciting not to share, since this blog, other Oakland blogs, and dozens of blog readers made this news possible.

The Uptown lot that we saved from becoming a parking lot back in 2009 is finally becoming a public arts space!

I know, I know, I’ve shared this news a couple of times here already. Unfortunately there were major delays due to funding issues after the dissolution of the Redevelopment Agency. But now it really is happening. And by now I mean that construction should start this month, and if construction stays on schedule, the art could be installed as early as mid-late October.

The City of Oakland Public Art Program has put out a call for art, with applications due on September 18th. With such a short timeline for submission, acceptance, and installation, they’re currently looking for existing artwork, to be displayed for 6-12 months. After that, they might commission some new artwork. From the call for art: Continue reading

Bike Bridge – Gateway to the Uptown sculpture garden

27 Jul

You might have read earlier this month that the opening date of the Uptown sculpture garden has been delayed from December 2011 to March 2012, but have you heard about the centerpiece sculpture chosen for the space? Because I’m often a month behind on blogs (except for a few), I was ecstatic this morning to read a Black Rock Arts Foundation (BRAF) blog post written a month ago about this piece.

From the beginning of this fight – when advocates including myself convinced the City Council to approve an arts space instead of a surface parking lot in the lot between the Uptown apartments and the Fox Theater – I dreamed about Burning Man style art being featured there. I’m often frustrated that San Francisco gets to publicly display so many East Bay Burning Man art pieces, like Ecstasy and the Raygun Rocket Ship, and I thought this was the perfect space for Oakland to showcase East Bay art. Well, my dreams have come true.

Actually, this art piece is even better than what I imagined. The project is being led by one of my favorite Burning Man artists, Michael Christian, but it’s being created by 12 young Oakland women. Also, it’s made of reclaimed bike parts. Here are the details from BRAF’s blog: Continue reading

Oceans and farms come to Uptown

17 Mar

The Oaksterdam mural is still in progress and looking better and better every day (I’ll post some more photos when it’s done or close to done), but a new mural caught my eye last weekend. I was on my way home from Amtrak and saw about a dozen people in the small parking lot on the east side of Broadway just north of 21st. They were playing music and painting the parking lot wall.

On Wednesday I walked by to snap some photos, and though it appears unfinished, it depicts the ocean and agriculture – kind of an odd pairing, but I’m guessing it will be tied together a bit more when it’s complete. The mural is a huge improvement over the empty grey wall that was there before. Continue reading

Our dream of an Uptown sculpture garden is becoming a reality

16 Mar

Last month I went to a special presentation about Parcel 4, the large Uptown lot we saved two years ago from becoming a parking lot and that Cultural Arts and Redevelopment staff are now working to turn into a public arts space. I promised afterward that I’d follow up with some images, and since Cultural Arts Manager Steven Huss was kind enough to send me images that were visible (unlike the ones in the staff report), I can now deliver on that promise.

First, I’d like to detour a bit and say that I think the Oakland Cultural Arts department is awesome. While certain other city departments seem to be stuck in the 80s (or worse), Cultural Arts is on the cutting edge, sponsoring events like Uptown Unveiled and art projects like the light based art piece planned for the 18th Street alleyway entrance to the 19th Street BART station. And their plans for Parcel 4 are equally exciting. Continue reading

We did it! The Uptown sculpture garden will soon be a reality

7 Oct

Longtime readers of this blog (or just about any Oakland blog) will remember that a year and a half ago a bunch of activists, including many bloggers and blog readers, joined together to prevent Oakland’s Redevelopment Agency from building a parking lot in Uptown Oakland next to the Fox Theater.

Don’t remember that? Well that’s ok because I recently wrote about it in a 500 word essay for an application to a program I’m applying to be in (excuse the focus on me – it was the nature of this essay assignment):

In March 2009, an issue came before the Oakland City Council that inspired me to organize Oakland residents and community leaders to work together to make change. The City had leased a large parcel in Uptown Oakland to a developer and most of it had been turned into apartments and a park. Part of the parcel that had been slated to become a condominium complex sat empty because the housing market had tanked and the developer asked the City for a two year continuance on its permit. As a condition of the continuance, the Redevelopment Agency asked the developer to contribute funding to build a temporary parking lot to fill the space.

I opposed this proposal because the parking lot was proposed for the heart of Uptown, an area of Oakland that had recently become vibrant after being nearly empty for decades. Part of what made this area so vibrant was its walkability, and adding another parking lot with dangerous curb cuts would have endangered that.

Together with three other Oakland residents – a motley crew of smart growth advocates and historic preservationists – I attended a committee meeting to speak against the parking lot and urged the committee members to consider other uses that would be more pedestrian and eco friendly.

The committee members listened and directed redevelopment staff to return with alternative proposals. We knew that staff were pushing hard for this parking lot and were unlikely to return with serious alternatives so I wrote a blog post about the situation and asked for readers to chime in with their ideas for the empty lot.

In nearly 50 blog comments, Oaklanders shared their ideas for the lot, including a solar panel array, community garden, soccer field, mini-golf course and large scale Burning Man art. I and other Oakland bloggers posted action alerts urging Oaklanders to email committee members and to attend the next committee meeting. Dozens of people sent emails and nine of us testified at the meeting (in the middle of a workday).

Staff stated at the meeting that there was no alternative to the parking lot, and the committee members listened. They unanimously approved the parking lot and put the item on the agenda for the next Council meeting (just one week away).

I and a few other bloggers wrote action alerts. A resident inspired by our blog posts wrote an op-ed in the Oakland Tribune. I and a colleague urged councilmembers to consider using the lot to display large-scale Burning Man sculptures. My colleague talked to the Oakland Arts Department and I contacted a Burning Man artist to discuss logistics and to ask him to come to the Council meeting.

More than a dozen Oaklanders turned out to speak – several of whom had never spoken at a Council meeting before. Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente carried our proposal and the Council voted unanimously to direct staff to pursue it and not to build the parking lot. City staff fought this directive for months so the sculpture garden was never built. However, the parking lot was also never built and the fence around the lot is now used to display beautiful murals by local artists.

Well as of yesterday, the end of the story has changed.

The City of Oakland has secured a $200,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to make our dreams come true! From the NEA website, the Cultural Arts Division:

plans the creation of the Uptown Arts District Park, a historic and re-emerging arts and entertainment district. Development of the park will transform an unused vacant lot into an outdoor cultural space for at least four years. The park will include rotating temporary exhibitions of public sculpture, newly commissioned public art projects, and an amphitheater for events by arts and community organizations. The park will complement the Fox Oakland Theater, the Oakland School for the Arts, and new restaurants and nightclubs, all within two blocks of the proposed park site. The division is partnering with Black Rock Arts Foundation to exhibit works of public art, many by Oakland artists. The park is expected to become the core of the downtown arts scene.

So yeah, we’re getting art, and not just a lot with art that is fenced off, but a gathering space too!

I could not be more excited about this. Many of us worked for months to make this happen, and I’m so proud of what we accomplished. Instead of a parking lot with dangerous curb cuts that blights this vibrant neighborhood, we’re getting a huge space filled with art that will attract even more people to the arts center of Oakland.

Thanks to everyone who helped make this happen – especially to dto510, Naomi Schiff, and Joyce Roy, who joined me at that first committee meeting when few thought we had a chance at winning. And thanks to the City’s Cultural Arts staff for pursuing this grant.

I look forward to the day when instead of looking at that empty lot, we’ll be standing in the middle of something like this:

OK, well, that minus the dust and with buildings instead of mountains in the background, but you get the picture. See you on the playa… I mean in Uptown.

Previous posts on the Uptown surface parking lot saga:

Oakland Updates: Best of the East Bay, Uptown Unveiled, Oakland Airport Connector & Pay-Go

20 Jun

There’s so much going on in Oakland lately that it’s kind of impossible to keep up with here so I decided I’d just lump a bunch of brief updates into one post.

Still time to vote for Best of the East Bay: For some reason, the East Bay Express decided to extend voting for its Best of the East Bay Awards. Earlier this week I recommended voting for Damon and the Heathens as best band and Sean Sullivan as rising political figure. You have through Monday, June 22 to vote, so vote now if you haven’t already.

More Uptown Unveiled Photos: I posted my iPhone photos yesterday and Chris Kidd asked where he could find some more professional photos. Luckily, there are TONS on Flickr. My favorite photo sets come from The Inadvertent Gardener, psilocybes, vision63, amicicara, and Ken L. Katz. Enjoy!

What really happened at the Port? The Tribune covered the Oakland Airport Connector vote at the Port Commission, but unfortunately got it very wrong. V Smoothe wrote a blog post correcting all the mistakes and adding more background so that’s where you should go for the whole story. (The short version is that the Port voted to move ahead to apply to be able to give money to BART, and they’ll later have to vote on whether to actually give this funding or not. Also, they directed BART to look into other alternatives – yay!) So I called the Tribune reporter, Janis Mara, and discussed the mistakes in her story since I knew this was not a story that she had covered before. She went ahead and issued a correction. Thanks to V for bringing this to my attention and to Janis for making the correction.

Other Oakland Airport Connector updates: The City Council Rules Committee was supposed to vote this past Thursday on whether to agendize an update on the OAC, but Rules Committee got canceled, so it will be before them this Thursday, June 25th. That means there’s still time to contact the Council about this. Later on Thursday, ACTIA will also be discussing the OAC. It’s unclear at this point if they’ll just be receiving an update or if it will be an action item, but advocates will be there to encourage ACTIA to direct BART to study alternatives. If you need a good refresher on the OAC, check out the debate KPFA held on Friday between John Knox White of Transform and Linton Johnson of BART  (about 10 minutes in):

Terra Verde – June 19, 2009 at 1:00pm

Click to listen (or download)

And some good personal news – TransForm just hired me to work part time for the next several weeks on the OAC campaign. Since I already have another full time job, that means I’ll be very busy so posting here might be lighter than usual. (If you’re interested in filling in by writing a guest post, please contact me.)

How do you feel about pay-go? In response to Dellums saying he thought pay-go should be entirely eliminated, Debby at Today in Montclair set up a survey to find out about how Oaklanders feel about pay-go. Whether you have strong feelings or not, please take her very brief survey – I know I’m interested to see the results.

That’s it for now – if you have questions about other Oakland issues I’ve written about (or haven’t), feel free to ask them below.

Photos from Uptown Unveiled

19 Jun

Uptown Unveiled was amazing. There were thousands of pedestrians enjoying the streets, some beautiful art, and plenty of great music. I couldn’t stop smiling for most of the night – I just loved seeing so many different people out enjoying Oakland.

I hope many of you could make it. If not, here is some of what you missed, offered in the order I took the photos (on my iPhone), mostly without comment.

mural 1

mural 2

mural 3

This was on the fence of the empty Uptown lot we saved from being a parking lot. It's a nice idea, but I assure you, not true.

This was on the fence of the empty Uptown lot we saved from being a parking lot. It's a nice idea, but I assure you, not true.

fox theater


bike trick

glowing tree

tree art

glowing machine

glowing balls

Another chance to stop the Uptown surface parking lot

2 May

As I mentioned in my last post on the surface parking lot saga, though the CED committee approved the lot, we still have  a couple more chances to stop it. This Tuesday, May 5th, the full City Council will be voting on this issue, and it is incredibly important for them to hear from their constituents once again. And what should you say? Well, you can take some cues from the excellent op-ed published in the Tribune today:

Some City Council members are advocating for a 120-space interim surface parking lot on the site for Fox concertgoers, despite the thousands of street and parking lot spaces located within blocks of the venue. The 482-space Franklin Plaza Garage, which closes at 7 p.m., could stay open later during Fox events if necessary.

Our City Council members are hearkening back to the 1970s automobile-oriented city planning model, rooted in the belief that drivers should never suffer the indignity of walking more than a few feet from their car door to the front entrance of the final destination.

The parking lot proposal ignores the larger picture. While maximizing parking for the Fox might sell a few more tickets, a surface parking lot consuming an entire city block on Telegraph will jeopardize the revival of the entire district. A one-acre mass of asphalt and sea of cars will deter pedestrians contemplating a stroll up Telegraph to explore the new restaurants, bars and shops.

Shoppers prefer an uninterrupted flow of attractive storefronts and inviting open spaces.

For these reasons, these same City Council members gave Forest City a $60 million subsidy four years ago to eliminate the old surface parking lot at this very site. The previous parking lot was discouraging economic development and investment in Uptown.

Why should we care so much about a temporary parking lot? Because “interim” parking lots often remain for years or decades, depending upon market conditions and developers’ whims. The new Cathedral Christ of Light, for example, was built on the site of an “interim” parking lot that remained for more than 40 years.

Whether you took action previously or not by contacting the CED committee, we need your help now. You can help out in two ways:

  1. Email and/or call the council members. Their contact info can be found below. Explain to them why you think the surface parking lot is inappropriate for the area (feel free to use any of the points I provided in this post), and, if you’d like, share with them your idea for a different temporary use of the lot. (You can find lots of great ideas in the comments to my previous post on this.)
  2. Come to the City Council meeting on Tuesday, May 5th at 7pm in the Council Chambers in City Hall. I’m not going to lie – this is going to be a long meeting because our items is at the end of the agenda, but if you show up and give me your cell phone number, I’d be happy to text you when the item comes up so you can hang out elsewhere in the interim. If you’ve never spoken at a Council meeting, I recommend reading V Smoothe’s guide. As she mentions, you might want to submit a speaker card online – otherwise, you must arrive on time. If you plan to attend the meeting, please RSVP on Facebook and if you’re not on Facebook, let me know in the comments if you plan to attend.

Here is the contact info for the City Council:

Rebecca Kaplan, At-Large (she represents the entire city) or 510-238-7008

Council President Jane Brunner, District 1 or 510-238-7001

Patricia Kernighan, District 2 or 510-238-7002

Nancy Nadel, District 3 or 510-238-7003

Jean Quan, District 4 or 510-238-7004

Ignacio De La Fuente, District 5 or 510-238-7005

Desley Brooks, District 6 or 510-238-7006

Larry Reid, District 7 or 510-238-7007