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.
Wordplay, at Studio Quercus
Humans have an amazing ability to recognize symbols as such, even when they are completely unfamiliar. A character from a foreign alphabet, or even a made-up alphabet, carries an emotional power independent of its meaning (if any).
In this group exhibition, five artists explore the emotional power of the symbol through typography and iconography in various forms. Media ranging from pop art reminiscent quilt work, to bronze-cast sculptures, to deconstructed books bring an array of esoteric marks to life.
Wordplay runs through June 16 at Studio Quercus, 385 26th Street, Oakland
Esther Traugot; Egg, 2011; egg shell, crocheted cotton thread; 2.25 x 1.5 x 1.75 inches
Halftones and Outside In, at Chandra Cerrito Gallery
Chandra Cerrito Gallery will be housing two concurrent solo exhibitions, opening Friday. Their respective works could hardly differ more in medium and look, but their tones are strikingly similar: both explore common objects with elevating reverence.
With Halftones, artist Sheili Ghidini depicts stacks of books and journals in delicate and beautiful graphite, employing the forty distinguishable shades of grey to create ethereal pictures where light, solidity and shadow intermingle. Esther Traugot’s Outside In consists of sculptures of natural objects – plant roots, seashells, vines – that are “gilded” in the artist’s crochet knits. This distinctive touch aims to investigate the relationship between nurturing and controlling nature.
Outside In and Halftones run June 1 through July 27 at Chandra Cerrito Gallery, 480 23rd Street, Oakland
Julianne Wallace Sterling; This Body, 2012
Dark Alliances, This Body, and From Here to There at Mercury 20
Good art speaks in a voice so self-assured and distinctive, you can almost hear it. The two solo exhibitions and one group one at Mercury 20 ought to result in a room full of lively conversations.
In Dark Alliances, Charlie Milgrim creates eerie glimpses of the military machine. Drawings of nuclear cooling towers fluoresce on heavy black paper; stealth bomber-looking paper airplanes gather in sinister sculptural groupings. In This Body, a series of portraits Julianne Wallace Sterling, the artist explores the carnal – all the absurdities and complexities that make for the embodied experience of a woman. In From Here to There, three gallery artists consider experiences abroad. They include meditations on nature, following last year’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and portraits of a city in ruins, overrun by graffiti and nature.
Dark Alliances, This Body, and From Here to There run through June 16 at Mercury 20, 475 25th Street, Oakland
Carol Inez Charney; NYC 6, 2012; digital chromogenic print; 30 x 30 inches
Urban Information at Slate Contemporary
Starting with the Impressionists, capturing the nature of urban experience in rapidly changing environments has been a perennial objective in art. Unlike the quickly industrializing 19th century Paris, however, today’s cities aren’t themselves changing nearly as fast as our experience of them is – the result of so many mediating technologies. Our smart phones equip us with Yelp and Google Maps, for example, altering both what and how we see.
In Urban Information, a group of artists attempt to convey the 21st century urban experience. Photographic collage work is prevalent, speaking to the fragmented nature of our day-to-day. Daniel Backman cuts up and recombines magazines to create geometric, retro-futurist views of city streets. In NYC 6, Carol Inez Charney exposes the blurred architectural forms of New York as seen through rain-streaked glass. The seven included artists use similar approaches to very distinct ends, each revealing something different about how we take in the world outside.
Urban Information runs through June 16 at Slate Contemporary, 473 25th Street, Oakland