downtown oakland
Downtown Oakland circa 1910

Category — music

Changing cities through beauty, not vandalism

November 4, 2011

First Friday comes to a downtown somewhat beaten down after events of the past week. From transit suspensions to vandalism, Wednesday was a rough day, and Wednesday night even worse. Yet the resolve of downtown business owners who were left to defend their property without police protection appears, at least from Facebook, to be an inspiration to everyone – workers and residents alike -working to build a brighter urban core. Today is an opportunity to ponder and participate in the shaping of a community through art and culture, instead of vandalism and confrontation.

This First Friday continues Oakland’s years-long celebration of the arts. The Art Murmur experiments with a slightly different format today, with a large-scale art installation replacing crafts vendors on 23rd Street. Surrounding galleries are open, as always: one highlight is Barely There: When Less is More, a multimedia exhibition from multiple artists at SLATE Contemporary, 473 25th St. See the official Art Murmur map for a full listing of galleries. If you miss the crafts vendors, check out the Firehouse Collective on 24th St.

Era Artbar’s gallery hosts the debut of Machine Language, a collage installation by local artist, architect and DJ Daniel Backman, based on his photography in and around Oakland. He states, “I have dismantled these images of urban infrastructure and reassembled them into six abstract yet figural compositions. These alien machines devour the urban fabric of Oakland and incorporate its contents into their intricate and monstrous bodies. These new works will be shown alongside my previous series, Space/Shift and enGulfed. Together, these collages comprise a grand narrative about the future of our cities and the challenges they face.” Perhaps given more meaning by this week’s tussles, Machine Language will be displayed at Era (19 Grand Ave) through the end of the month.

ProArts Gallery holds its annual Box Art Benefit Auction, whose proceeds go to support their mission of advocating for artists and providing arts programs in schools.

Starting today and going through Tuesday, the California Food Justice Conference is held in downtown Oakland, with seminars, workshops and charity events focused around access to healthy food. Today’s events include a film screening at the Oakland Marriott, and an arts and community event on Telegraph at 17th from 8 to 10pm. The conference schedule is found here.

The Oaklandish Store (1444 Broadway) hosts its final First Friday party of the year, featuring MCs and singers from Earshot Entertainment. Visiting Oaklandish is a great opportunity to patronize the OakCollectiv across the street, which was vandalized and looted despite supporting Wednesday’s protest.

Old Oakland impresario Alfonso Dominguez partnered with Sarah Tilly and worked with landlord Peter Sullivan to bring several “pop-up” retail shops to the area around Ninth and Washington, to incubate retail in this promising district. Manifesto Bicycles is one of many retailers participating in a six-month experiment to forge a new retail identity for downtown. The “Pop Up Hood” has is grand opening on December 9th, just in time for the holidays.

Whether you’re fighting for food justice, indulging the life of the asthete, or building community organizations, there’s something for you to participate in downtown this First Friday. See you on 23rd Street!

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Cyclists Celebrate on Saturday, and the Layover Maintains

October 21, 2011

This Saturday, Jack London Square hosts PedalFest, a celebration of bicycling, from 10am to 5pm! Live music, cycling stunts, bike-powered carnival rides, displays of vintage and handmade bicycles, and a miniature velodrome are highlights of this family-friendly festival of healthy living and fun. Bicyclists will get free ferry rides to and from San Francisco – and of course there will be plenty of bike parking. This free event will benefit Walk Oakland Bike Oakland and the East Bay Bicycle Coalition. See the official website for details.

After PedalFest, the East Bay Bike Party teams up with its cross-bay brethren for an 18-mile, All-Bay Bike Party.

Near Jack London Square, you get an early start on Halloween with a costume party and indie-rock show at new club Vitus (201 Broadway), headlined by Bam!Bam! and Palms Spring.

The Layover (1517 Franklin St) celebrates its second anniversary with a block party on Sunday afternoon. Franklin Street will be closed between 15th and 17th and host live music and top downtown DJs. Sounds like a lot of fun!

After you enjoy this weekend, keep an eye out for a holiday transformation of Old Oakland called Pop Up ‘Hood. See you around downtown!

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