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Celebrate local businesses and artists at the 5th Annual Oakland Indie Awards

12 May

Tomorrow (Friday) night is the 5th Annual Oakland Indie Awards, and as I’m looking forward to it, as I do every year. The Indie Awards honor Oakland businesses and artists that have been nominated and judged in categories like Oakland Soul, Ripple, Greenie, the new Socially-Responsible Rockstar and more. For the third year, I had the opportunity to judge the Indie Awards, and though I don’t know who the winner are, I can promise you that the nominees were all well-deserving of their nominations.

This year the event is cheaper than ever (just $10) and is structured a bit differently than in the past. The awards ceremony will take place from 6-6:30pm, followed by the celebration party until 10pm.

Here are the details, from the Indie Awards website: Continue reading

Art Murmur revisited

9 May

After going for the first time in September of 2008, I went to the Art Murmur regularly for the next year or so. I loved taking in the art, hanging out with friends, and seeing a part of Uptown that was often near deserted filled with people.

But at some point, I lost interest in it. Many of the galleries were so crowded that I barely could enjoy the art. Even on the streets, it was often hard to move around. So I stopped going. I never made a conscious decision to stop going. I just didn’t prioritize it, and somehow more than a year went by before I returned.

Fittingly, when I did return this past Friday evening, I didn’t really plan to go but figured since I was walking home from work and didn’t have anywhere else to be, I might as well stop into a few galleries on my way home. I’m glad I did, as my experience reminded me of what drew me to the Art Murmur initially. Continue reading

Party with Ella Baker Center & Oakland Grown next Tuesday

22 Apr

Next Tuesday, April 26th, there are two great opportunities to get out and meet community members, leaders, business owners, and artists at the Ella Baker Center Change-Maker Party and the Oakland Grown Party. The best part is that they’re nearby and not at the same time so it will be easy to stop by both.

I hope you’ve checked out the Ella Baker Center blog since I featured it on Monday, but if not, check it out now to find out about the great work they’re doing and why you should attend their event. As for Oakland Grown, I’ve written about the organization extensively before (and if you’ve ever run into me shopping, you’ve seen me carrying their bags). Oakland Grown is a member driven non-profit program that encourages people to consciously support those unique locally-owned independent businesses and artistis that have their roots in Oakland.

I’m proud to say that this week I became the first blogger member of Oakland Grown so I’m extra excited about next week’s event. (Disclosure: As part of my membership, I’ve agreed to write a few blog posts about Oakland Grown events and Oakland Grown members, though this really won’t be a change from what I’ve already been doing here.)

Here’s some info on the events. I hope to see you at one or both of them on Tuesday night! Continue reading

Show your love for biking in Oakland through photos

24 Mar

Last year, Oakland was recognized as a Bike Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists (LAB). As part of the award, LAB wants to feature five bike-friendly photos of Oakland so the Oakland’s Bicycle & Pedestrian Facilities Program launched a contest to find the five best photos. They will submit the five winning photos to LAB and will use them to create a “Greetings from Oakland, California” postcard series that they’ll distribute on Bike to Work Day.

This is where you come in. They’re asking Oaklanders (or anyone who appreciates biking in Oakland) to submit photos that show how bike-friendly Oakland is. There are five contest categories: Continue reading

Check out the Freedom Bus this Friday night

22 Mar

Have you heard about the Freedom Bus Project? It’s a collaboration between AC Transit and the Alameda County Office of Education that aims to celebrate the 55th Anniversary of Rosa Parks’ historic bus ride in Montgomery, Alabama via an art competition for students. The winners of the art competition will have their art displayed, not in a museum or a government building, but on buses!

From the press release:

Elementary, middle and high school students in the AC Transit service district, which spans Alameda County and West Contra Costa County, have submitted social justice-themed artwork to be considered for the Freedom Bus Project’s mobile art exhibit. Starting in April, four of the winning entries will be displayed in over 200 buses in the AC Transit fleet, allowing AC Transit riders to participate in the Freedom Bus Project. The mobile art exhibit will be on display until April 30, 2011.

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

Bye bye Oaksterdam University sign… hello Oaksterdam mural

10 Mar

UPDATE: The mural artist sent me some incredible close up photos which I’ve added to the end of this post.

Last month, V Smoothe wrote a really interesting blog post about the Oaksterdam University sign and the Planning Commission process to choose a mural to replace it. I highly recommend reading the entire post, as it asks the important question – what criteria should be used to select public art?

She also discusses placemaking and how the sign really marked the neighborhood and people visiting got excited about it. So it’s important for the new mural to serve the same function. The Planning Commission had initially approved a really bland mural of Lake Merritt for the wall but ultimately accepted this proposal as well and left it up to Oaksterdam to decide: Continue reading

Zoning, TOD & art planning decisions at Oakland CED meeting tomorrow

21 Feb Internatonal TOD Map

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the importance of Council committee meetings and explained what each of the committees do. I also mentioned that some committees are very powerful and their new membership could change the balance of power on important policy decisions. Tomorrow, Tuesday, February 22nd will be a good chance to see this in action at the Community and Economic Development (CED) committee meeting, as the committee discusses three important and exciting issues – one very controversial and two less so. Continue reading

Oakland Standard Launch Party – another fun late night at the museum

3 Feb

When the Oakland Museum reopened last May, I loved that they threw a weekend long party that went straight through Saturday night. There’s something kind of magical about being at a museum past midnight. Missed out? Not to worry – tomorrow (Friday) night, they’re holding another late night event – the Oakland Standard Launch Party.

The evening will start out with tag team talks by Oakland artists and writers, like Novella Carpenter the West Oakland farmer who’s blog – Ghost Town Farm – you should really be reading, and Walter Kitundo, inventor of the phonoharp. That will be followed by a performance by the Turf Feinz, super talented Oakland turf dancers who’s YouTube videos you’ve likely seen. If not, here’s their most famous video:

And from 10pm-1pm the party will turn into a dance party, with music by DJ Mia Moretti.

Sounds like fun, huh? Entrance is free, so there’s no reason not to at least stop by to check it out. Plus, the East Bay Bicycle Coalition will be providing valet bike parking.

And if you’re wondering what the Oakland Standard is, you’re not alone. Even after reading the description on OMCA’s website I didn’t quite get it. The Bay Citizen interviewed curator Rene de Guzman about it, and the interview explains not only what it is but why OMCA is doing it. I highly recommend reading the interview if you’re interested.

See you at the museum tomorrow night!