I attended my first Oakland art murmer last night since moving to the area. It was quite the occasion, with Telegraph Avenue between 19th and 27th street blocked off for a variety of street stalls, music, food carts and other entertainment. There were also numerous galleries and studio spaces around downtown Oakland open until 9pm, and many of the bars and restaurants had live music filtering out the doors. I arrived early, when the streets were still being blocked off and many vendors were only just arriving. This meant I got to take a leisurely wander and get a look ahead of the crowds, I even got a tarot card reading and my portrait drawn for free, before queues started forming.
The street fair boasted mainly pretty objects for sale, handmade jewellery, cacti in an assortment of glass jars, leather purses and hand printed tshirts. I was glad to have only brought the bare minimum of cash with me, to resist spending my weeks wages on all the beautiful things on sale. Much of the art here was street art, silkscreened posters of Obama smoking a joint, posters from the naked bunny project, a guy with his own steam punk customized bicycle with a pull along mobile gallery adorned with matching paintings.
As I got to the galleries in the surrounding area, the crowds had swelled and it became difficult to get into many of the venues. there was a good selection on show, with open studios FM displaying by far my favorite art of the evening. Mostly ceramic artists, with one photographer, one printmaker and a painter thrown in for good measure, the stand out was a selection of prints small delicate black and white etchings with accompanying typescripts. In the push of the crowd I didn't manage to get the artists name, but his stand was surrounded by the haunting marionettes of Peter St. Lawrence, and despite scrutinizing their website I can't seem to track him down.
A couple of doors down was Manna Gallery with an exhibition by Jhina Alvarado-Morse, a series of beige photorealistic paintings and some large abstracts by Linn Thygeson. Photo gallery had a show of vintage esoterica a nice collection of prints from the collection of Louis Klaitman. There were some real classics in there from the likes of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Annie Liebovitz, Ralph Eugene Meatyard and William Wegman. In Mercury 20 was the very amusing show "Pet Peeves" by Julie Alvarado and Charlie Milgrim. A series of dog portraits on one wall faced down a very odd collection of green bowling balls against the other wall- the "pet peas" of Milgrim which were dressed up in leads and collars, put in cages and fish tanks in a mockery of the containment and control of animals as pets. While the humor of these works quickly wore off, Dave Meekers exhibition "Lucky" had a little more depths. These sculptures "conceptualize the luck that surrounds us. The artist imagines this intangible with an inviting sense of humor. Luck is aligned with chaos and chance. It comes in many shades of good or bad, big or small, and may have very little to do with our own desires, wills, or intentions. These works are lyrical, associative, and built on the premise that every day we are presented with lucky moments of one kind or another, and that we may choose how to interpret, accept or reject them". (www.davemeekerart.com)
I will definitely be going again next month, and saving up in order to indulge in the assortment of beautiful things on sale. I also hope to venture further downtown, towards Jack London square and pop into some of the other galleries that I didn't have a chance to explore last night. As well as all the art on show (a lot of which is being sold at very reasonable and affordable prices) there is a delicious selection of food, wine tastings, live music, DJs and other arts and crafts to part you from your hard earned cash.
I would advise starting early though- as the night descends into rather messy drunken revelry pretty quickly with queues to get into all the bars and the streets thronged with teenagers and drunks.
The website for the whole event along with maps of participating galleries can be found here: http://oaklandartmurmur.org/