All posts tagged: Oakland

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 …

Rethinking Logevity with Repair Revolution

I slung a nine-year-old pair of jeans (yes, nine) over my left shoulder and my camera over my right. My mom’s 46-year-old watch was on my left wrist and a great aunt’s old, old opal ring on my right hand. Longevity, for me, means keeping stuff I want, either for its meaning or for its worn in perfect fit. But keeping stuff and not having to buy “new” means the need for periodic fixing. It goes like this: You have that thing you need to repair, you are too lazy, ill-equipped, unaware or unskilled. So, that great thing just sits there, busted. Or, you go to Target and buy a sad substitute. More waste, more unneeded acquisition of stuff. Multiply this scenario by a ton of people. In comes Repair Revolution to help us keep the stuff we love and reduce waste. It aims to bring repair under one roof where skilled craftsmen repair a range of goods. On Saturday I took my broke-down jeans to the Repair Revolution pop-up salon, hosted at OwlNWood in …

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 …

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:    

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Meeting Oakland’s City Administrator

I have a soft spot for city employees. It started after the financial crisis, when my city almost shut down. I stopped feeling weird about my sympathies once HBO began airing Show Me a Hero. The show, created by David Simon of Treme and The Wire, features the Shakespearean drama unfolding in city bureaucracy’s basement. In the years I lived in Oakland, I admired and defended the regular city workers, the people with the skills, background and commitment to move the city forward despite its myriad (and historic) obstacles. I’m not talking about politicians. On a few occasions I had the opportunity to work alongside them, for example, as a volunteer with National Day of Civic Hacking. So when SPUR scheduled “A Conversation with Oakland’s City Administrator,” I was there. City Administrator Sabrina Landreth grew up in Oakland and raises a family here. She is newly arrived from her post in Emeryville, though she had worked as Oakland’s deputy city administrator and budget director immediately following the 2008 financial crash. The key to mapping the …

Interconnections that spark art & audience

Last year, London native Michael French launched Aluminous, a resident theater company at The Flight Deck in Oakland. He moved to the Bay Area after 12 years in New York and in Colorado. What brought you to the Bay Area? I’ve been here five years. I came here to start a theater company and to meet like-minded people, which I’d been struggling to do in Colorado.  I said to myself, I have to do this in San Francisco, it couldn’t be Oakland. So, I got here and I refused to look at Oakland. I just had blinkers on. I’d travel into SF (from where he lived Oakland), rent these spaces, and put on theater projects. Then, one day I remember I was standing by the MacArthur BART station and I was watching all the people go in, and I saw more people of color, more diversity in the 10-15 minutes that I was standing there than I did in the audience I was attracting in San Francisco. And, finally, I thought, what am I doing? …

House to House

The doors to Warehouse 416 invite a broad span of light. Greeting visitors as they pass through, Jamie Lee Evans welcomes each as if to her home. To feel welcome, to feel at home, wanted. How differently we understand these terms, based on our earliest memory. The path of light leads to the The Foster Youth Museum’s inaugural exhibit, Lost Childhoods. Along the brick surfaces, curator/photographer Ray Bussolari presents assemblages of objects marking the experiences of foster youth. They fall into themes of developmental disruption, institutionalization, powerlessness, loss and hope. Within each theme, a constellation of evidence surrounds a large black and white photo, evidence of hurt, invention, aspiration: teddy bears, makeshift shoes, a college degree. I don’t know what resilience means. But the exhibit asks me to consider it, to move beyond moving on too quickly from pain or the pain of others, to recall those moments of having experienced it, both the pain and the coming through it. Here in this space, apart from the usual bustle of Oakland’s Uptown, I face what …