Oakland Art Murmur has crescendoed to a straight-up roar, and its First Friday Art Walk has become just as much a misnomer; words like “surge” and “shuffle” befit the teeming, blocked-off streets of Oakland’s uptown arts district a lot better than the provincial “walk.” Staying for the party, it’s all too easy to forget that you’ve come for the art. So arrive early, and make sure to check out these four galleries.
While you might be layering up against the cold and violent winds here in SF, our fellow Bay Areans across the bridges are likely enjoying those little things called sun and warmth. We're here to remind you that it’s officially summer in the East Bay, which means there are plenty of reasons for city dwellers to venture over the bridge, even on a holiday weekend like this one. Following are a few of our favorites:
Berkeley was long a testing ground for new ideas in residential design, receptive to the Arts & Crafts movement and full of Shingle-Style houses both by anonymous builders and well-known architects, and later, the Progressive community that UC Berkeley attracted wanted the modest, modern houses that reflected their ways of thinking and living. People in Berkeley are both proud and knowledgeable about their architectural heritage— if it's a nice day, expect crowds.
If you've only got time for one open house this weekend, this almost-untouched little redwood cottage on Ashby Avenue in the Elmwood neighborhood gets our vote.
2821 Ashby Avenue, Berkeley, $729K
Built in 1907 and almost untouched since, this Craftsman Style cottage hasn't been on the market in five decades, and yes, it needs some serious updating, but at least you won't have to rip our someone else's misguided attempts. While there's no indication from the realtor who the architect might have been, the carpenters of this 4-bed, 1.5-bath house deserve some credit as well.
"I just have a preference for dark and somber, rather than light and serene." The perfect precurser for local artist Aaron Nagel's aesthetic. Nagel's moody oil paintings are created within a small bedroom in the charming area near Grand Avenue in Oakland yet his work speaks volumes. Or rather, whispers in your ear in a sultry voice.
In 1983, Compton resident Deborah Peagler was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for arranging the murder of Oliver Wilson, the man who abused her, forced her into prostitution and molested her daughters. Nearly 20 years later, after California legislators passed a law allowing incarcerated domestic-violence victims to reopen their cases, her case became a cause, quickly adopted by two land-use attorneys (Berkeley’s Joshua Safran and Nadia Costa) determined to see her freed.
Adam and Eve managed to get their kids banished from the Garden of Eden, and parenting in religion has been going downhill ever since. How To Write a New Book for the Bible is award-winning playwright Bill Cain’s flashlight into the grand religious and theatrical traditions of familial blame.
Struggling artists, take heart. Rita Moreno - one of the few performers to line her shelves with an Oscar, a Tony, a Grammy, and two Emmys - labels her early Hollywood career as “horrifying.” Tony Taccone, writer of Ms. Moreno’s new one-woman show at Berkeley Rep, says “There’s a lot of humor in failure.” Meaning, you get to laugh and be buoyed by the thought that one of the most lauded performers in show business history spent time swimming around in the primordial Sea of Failed Attempts. Just like the rest of us.