All posts tagged: arts/culture

Omiiroo Gallery art events oakland

Omiiroo Gallery in the Sweet Spot

I met Githinji Mbire in a parking lot while interviewing aerosol artist Desi Mundo in front of the Alice Street mural. I’d asked Desi who he’d recommend I interview next. “That guy right there walking by,” he pointed to a fast-moving Mbire.  Last week (unannounced) I dropped by the Omiiroo Gallery  in Oakland on a stretch of 15th street that was abandoned when I lived in the area. Now, it’s lined with art spaces and art businesses. Mbire describes himself primarily as a sculptor/painter who has also moved into film and performance. He kindly obliged a spontaneous chat. What drew you to this block? Omiiroo has been in the space about a year now. Before, we had a gallery on Franklin and 14th. One of my friends had moved in here. And one day I was passing by here as they were working on the block and I thought, I want one of these. Another day when I was on 15th, she (my friend) just opened the door and I was like “WHAT?” She happened to …

George Kelham’s Castles

Contribution by Peter Garland. When one day I realized that many of my favorite buildings in the Bay Area were designed by the same architect, George W. Kelham (1871-1936), I sought his story and found no one had ever written it.  Nor had he left any papers or memoirs from which to put such a story together.  However, with the help of the staff of the San Francisco History Room at our Main Library (Kelham designed the old Main), who guided me to the San Francisco Chronicle’s on-line historical files (1865-1922) as well as further guidance from the staff of the Environmental Library of U.C. Berkeley, I was able to piece the jigsaw puzzle together. I found an astonishing story of an American Renaissance prince and his princess-like wife who lived a life of such incredible success and polish that they seem the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers of the architectural world. On May 15, 1871, George W. Kelham was born in Manchester, Massachusetts, the son and grandson of furniture merchants. He graduated from Harvard and …

foster youth oakland body work tattoos

Foster Youth Tattoos – Marking Life

In the photograph, a young man in a white tank top sits atop a toilet tank. The photo pulled me in, its inscription stopped me still. “Russell is a survivor of commercial sexual exploitation, a father to his daughter and son, a student at Cal Berkeley double majoring in Anthropology and South and Southeast Asian Studies. Collectively, Russell’s tattoos signify his search for permanency…” – from Tribute, an exhibit of the Foster Youth Museum running through Friday at Pro Arts Gallery in Oakland. Earlier this year, we covered the launch of the Foster Youth Museum and its inaugural exhibit, Lost Childhoods. Museum founder Jamie Lee Evans met me at Pro Arts Gallery to talk about Tribute: Foster Youth and Tattoos, its third exhibit. At first reluctant to bring in a non-foster youth to take portraits for Lost Childhoods, Jamie found herself won over by photographer Ray Bussolari’s approach. “He took time, he conducts interviews with the youth to really find out who they are…his photographs told the story so well.” The black and white photographs …

Don’t Doubt Yourself – Says The M Machine

Contribution by Lilit Barseghyan, Sophomore at Lowell High School. As a high school student interested in music production, there aren’t many resources available to help expand upon this interest. I spend a good amount of time trying to find classes or teachers around San Francisco to help me learn the programs and skills I need. While searching for classes, I stumbled upon a music production school, Pyramind, and spotted an announcement about a special event they were going to host at their campus. The M Machine, Ben Swardlick and Eric Luttrell, former graduates, were returning to Pyramind to host a small group session where students and others could come join and listen to how they started their career and ask questions. Seeing as how this could be a useful experience for me, I signed up and went to the event. Once I approached the building and stood in line, the first thing that struck me was how much older everyone was, either college aged students or older. As I walked into the main room where …

mural artist oakland graffiti

Protecting the Artist and Rejuvenating Community

The corner of Alice and 14th Street in Oakland has always drawn me in. When I moved back home to the Bay Area in 2000 I took dance class at Alice Arts Center. It was in a neighborhood I didn’t know, but as soon as I entered, it owned me. Alice Arts seemed like the heart of Oakland, and in its high flung rooms I felt I could fly. Years later when I had to move from Temescal (the house was about the collapse, I was told), I moved here instinctively, two blocks from Alice Arts, now Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts. I don’t live here anymore, but find myself in the area now and then. Recently a mural arrested me. It flashed its colors and held me fast. The first thing I thought – “Of course” and “a long time coming.” Dancer Ruth Beckford’s image rises high from the center, surrounded by the neighborhood’s historic layers of arts and advocacy. I had only lived through a shred of it, and my stay coincided …

Filming the Love Hate State of Home

It’s official. I can tell you. Rami Alayan’s Love, Theft and Other Entanglements is making its California debut here in the Bay Area. The Arab Film Festival brings it to us for two screenings, one in San Francisco on October 18 and the other in Berkeley on October 25th (with another screening in Los Angeles on November 15). Rami and his brother will be taking questions after the San Francisco show. After interviewing Rami this summer (here), I couldn’t wait to see it for myself. Now I can. Here’s the second part of our interview from July: Why do an independent film about Palestine? We didn’t need to do a European co-production for this film. Independent productions happen all the time there, for documentaries, but not for features. There’s something to be said for independent, do-it-yourself film making. It’s been done in America, Asia, Europe, why not Palestine? What’s true in Palestine, and it is true in other places, as much as people want to make a film, they have day jobs that pay the …

Youth Speaks, hip hop Oakland music festival life is living

How Life is Living with Youth Speaks

What does a community celebration look like? Through our lens, it embraces the arts and the outdoors, music and information about how to grow stronger together. This year’s Youth Speaks Life Is Living festival at DeFermery Park in Oakland shows us how a community can activate its youth, make and share art, build unexpected partners, showcase storytelling, and raise awareness about environment and health justice.  Did we mention, this is a party? Take a look:    

James Patton Martizian arts and culture martinez

Stoking Arts Culture: The Martizian

I can relate with someone juggling multiple creative projects at once with no monetary guarantees. I see myself in James Patton, editor of The Martizian, a digital window into local art and its potential for reviving Martinez, CA. In addition to launching the new online publication, he’s also a musician, graphic designer and business owner. People like James define the Bay Area, a region crackling with creative life, but in economic and cultural transition.  After reading about The Martizian in my free community paper, I had to reach out. We caught up and walked about town. His thoughts on firing up the arts: Convening through New Media The idea for The Martizian came out of working together with someone named Tony Rishell on the Main Street Martinez Committee for Economic Restructuring. We wondered how we could tap into spheres of influence as they relate to culture and community here. A lot of people have pride in Martinez, but the community wasn’t engaged around an identity.  What everyone wants is to revitalize the area. Not just …

Emotions Are Louder Than Words

I’ve been a big fan of Vanessa Zahorian and Davit Karapetyan, principal dancers with San Francisco Ballet. At the beginning of every ballet season, I’m anxious to catch a performance with the couple in the leading roles, especially when the performance is a love story. The SF Ballet features phenomenal dancers, but it’s Vanessa and Davit’s one-of-a-kind connection on stage that takes the experience to another level. Seeing the couple perform Romeo and Juliet a few years ago (coincidentally, the same day he proposed to her on stage after the performance) was a life changing experience for me, and I believe for a lot of people in the audience. They told the beautiful story of two lovers without saying a word, but with their bodies connecting and emotions flowing. The audience felt a part of their passion, sadness, joy.  Their vulnerability had truly filled the theater. If you’re curious to learn a bit more about the life of a professional dancer and to hear them speak, view this super video by Mode.com about Vanessa Zahorian. (Photo …

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Public Movement for Change Starts Here

Peace often comes about through banal procedures. Paperwork. Meetings. Minutes. Clean up. These everyday acts of movement building bear the slow, steady unraveling of prejudice and hate.  For several years, a church, a temple and an Islamic center have planned and rallied the way toward beauty and understanding. Last month we were there at the opening of the 3rd Interfaith Art Exhibition Biennial. We promised to share more photos of the show as it came to a close. Based in the East Bay, the Faith Trio of Montclair Presbyterian Church, the Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California and Kehillah Synagogue put together an exhibit of more than 100 works of art.  This year’s theme – “We Are the Bridge” – aimed to reveal how artists creatively envision themselves, their culture, faith, community, and art as a bridge from conflict to resolution and reconciliation. Organizers, including Ziya Art Center, hope to compile photos into an upcoming book. (Photos: Haleh & Raeshma)