Thursday, May 1, 2008

Things I Hella Love About Oakland: The Art Murmur

I know I keep harping on the Oakland Art Murmur, the "art walk" around the upstart, gallery-studded Uptown area that takes place the first Friday of each month. But I'm not going to stop until you all go -- at least those of you within driving distance.

Nick and I try to attend the Art Murmur as often as we can, because it's fun and because we've been introduced to several artists there whose work we promptly fell in love with. Last month, I actually had the foresight to grab my camera before we headed out the door, so here's my little amateur photographic ode to the monthly Murmur:

My favorite Oakland art gallery, Johansson Projects, where I'm always blown away by the shows. Kimberly Johansson: You're totally rockin' it, girl.

Nick ponders Paul Hayes' Cultivated Momentum -- made up of thousands of pieces of folded paper suspended from the ceiling -- at Johansson.

Sorry, just have to add a quick aside here to my kids, who lately have been refusing to do anything with us that doesn't involve, like, roller coasters and French fries -- and I'm talking the full-on, foot stomping, hands on hips, growling "I'm NOT going!" through clenched teeth sort of refusing. Last month, we got so fed up with this routine that we just tossed a cereal box at them for dinner, turned on our heels, and left them at home. (Our son recently turned 13, so I'm pretty sure that wasn't actually illegal.)

Anyway: See, guys, there *are* other kids at the Murmur! Some of your friends, actually! And doesn't it look like they're even kind of having a good time? I know you find it all sort of insufferable, but when you grow up I hope you'll be like, "Yeah, our parents were always dragging us to flea markets and noisy concerts and freaky art shows. That was cool." Plus, if you come next month without complaining, we might buy you donuts.

In order to get to the crackers and beer at the back of the Egopark Gallery, you had to climb through this web-like installation. I'm not quite sure what the message was supposed to be, but it was kinda cool.

"But what does it all mean?" she wondered ...

The Bloom Screen Printing/Small Stakes print sale was packed. We snagged this "scratch-and-dent" print by Portland's Ryan Jacob Smith for $5. It now resides on our refrigerator, where our daughter keeps covering up the bad word with magnets. We've tried explaining to her that it's Art, and thus OK, but she remains unconvinced.

I don't know what this bus was or what, exactly, it was doing there. But it was full of revelers having a mighty fine time, and had such a sweet herbal aroma wafting out of the windows that I'm pretty sure we got a contact high simply from standing next to the bus for a minute. So let's just call it "The Party Bus."

These pictures coming out blurry was totally unintentional -- I swear I wasn't trying to be arty. But I like how they sort of capture the roiling energy of the whole shindig.

Hmm ... do you think someone's trying to send me a message?

Here's the thing about the Oakland Art Murmur: You don't necessarily go for the art, because lately the Murmur has been so thronged that you can't actually get that close to the art. (Above is a shot of the scene at the Science Fair show at the Rock Paper Scissors Collective, for instance, where a DJ was spinning and people were mostly just hanging with friends.)

You go for the funky, celebratory vibe of it all, to hear some random dude throwing down rhymes on the corner, and for the chance to carry an open beer can around with you on the street. And then you go back to the galleries the next day and actually look at the art in peace and quiet.

This month's Murmur is Friday, May 1, from 6 p.m. to 9-ish. Here's my suggested game plan: Line up at the counter at Mama Buzz Cafe for a fair-trade coffee and vegan sandwich -- both served up with a side of tattooed-grrrl attitude -- and enjoy them on the back patio. Or go slightly more upscale at Luka's Taproom or the new Flora restaurant, which is winning raves. Then check out the galleries -- the Propagations exhibit pictured above is still up at Johansson Projects, as is the Venue show at Front Gallery, and there are openings or relatively new shows up at Blankspace, Mercury20, Esteban Sabar, Oakopolis, and Rock Paper Scissors. After the galleries start closing up, grab a drink and see a couple of bands at The Uptown, Stork Club, or 21 Grand.

Seriously, people -- it's a party. You should go.


kelly said...

Oh my goodness! I LOVE that Ryan Jacob Smith print!! That thing is fantastic!

katiedid said...

This looks like a blast! In Sac, we have "Second Saturday" art walk, and it is very similiar. It's why I love living close to downtown. I love the paper sculpture hanging from the ceiling thing.

corine said...

What a great post. made me want to be there. Wait! I'm actually will be there for 3 days during memorial day week-end for a Bat-Mitvah. I'll print all you have written about oakland and use it as my guide

Leah, That print on your fridge: I MUST own it. Can you snatch more and sell it to me? name your price.

Leah said...


You'll have to pry that print out of my cold, dead hands ...

But you could email Bloom and/or Ryan Smith and ask if they have more.


kelly said...

Corine, you're in luck. You can buy 'em right here at the Bloom site.

Leah said...

Oh, duh. Thanks Kelly!

kelly said...

No need for a "duh" there, Leah! I had already looked it up because I knew that my best friend would have to have one. While I had the link open, I thought I'd share -- everyone really needs one of these.

It's just so... true. >sigh<

Anonymous said...

As the owner of one of the mentioned galleries I just wanted to say that we wish more people really did come back the next day because we work really hard to present art and it is frustrating that it is so crowded and beer focused that nobody actually looks at it much. If you really want to support the art murmur you should buy something from one of the galleries every time you go, or leave them a donation or something.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I think your daughter is pretty smart. The last photo, the 'art' looks like when I clean out my hairbrush. I did like your post, though. I'd love to be amongst some creative people.

Le Meems said...

I just fell in love with the murmur.

I'm pissed it took me this long to find out about it, all the way in SC.



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