downtown oakland
Downtown Oakland circa 1910

Category — politics

First Friday in June: Craft against Art

June 4, 2010

Once again it’s First Friday, and downtown Oakland stars in a monthly celebration of culture. Aficionados welcome the return of the occasional RAW Gallery, a well-edited collection of art in music in a half-built retail space on Telegraph and 20th. The Great Wall projected installation, a taste of planned public light art in Uptown, features In Search of Happiness, “a curated screening of video art and films from artists in Europe, Canada and the United States.” New galleries, relocated galleries, and street-based art can all be found at the Art Murmur, centered at 23rd and Telegraph.

The increasingly artsy environs around downtown are of course a source of civic pride, but the arts have also been used to put the Town down, from Gertrude Stein’s epigrams to aborted television pilots. Recently, all the way on the northern border, a “tea party” of craftsmen (and women) knitted over Berkeley’s rail-side HERETHERE sculpture, covering up this perceived slight at Oakland. Given the sculpture’s proximity to pioneering Internet-enabled Nomad Cafe, will we soon see censorious socks on (Regr)Etsy?

In Jack London Square, vegetarian restaurant and wine bar Encuentro gave up its most popular recipe to the Chronicle recently. You could try this at home, but it seems pretty labor-intensive. Best to visit Encuentro, don’t you agree?

Geisha, the long-awaited and somewhat controversial establishment dreamed up by the owner of the former Silver Lion and Golden Bull watering holes, opened in the former Oakland Stamp Factory on 14th near Webster this week. A generously-sized bar, well-expressed decor, experienced bartenders, and a full kitchen will add life to a street mostly known for shuttling people from downtown to the Lake. I don’t know what sort of food the cabaret-licensed nightclub will serve, but Geisha’s eponymous cucumber-lime punch is tasty.

Finally, I would like to encourage Art Murmerers to take advantage of my client Friendly Cab’s First Friday promotion. Sponsored by Kapsack & Bair DUI attorneys, three DTO hotspots will offer $5 taxi coupons tonight to help you get home or even cover a bar-hop. Stop by The Layover (1517 Franklin), Penelope (11th and Clay), and Era (19 Grand) so you can enjoy the drinking without the driving! After all that walking and biking for the Car-Free Challenge, it will be nice to traverse all the DTO has to offer in the comfort of a back seat. Enjoy your First Friday!

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Oakland wants YOU to help downtown

January 16, 2009

As the Oscar Grant / protest / riot situation simmers, City Councilmember Pat Kernighan, who represents part of downtown, expressed her outrage at the vandals and her sympathy for the residents and businesses who have been working to transform the DTO, only to see their property destroyed by out-of-town “wannabe revolutionaries.” Her balanced essay is a must-read for concerned citizens. She highlights the unfairness of negative media attention when the vandals were not residents, and promises to help spread a more positive message of Oaklanders coming together to support their community.

To show solidarity with local businesses damaged by this and last week’s rioting, Oaklanders have organized two events designed to bring folks to the DTO. Tonight, blog commenters have declared a Night Out, and are encouraging everyone to spend the evening at one of downtown’s many restaurants, discos, and cultural venues. Tomorrow (Sat Jan 17 2009), merchant groups throughout the city have organized 17th on 17th, a mini-festival celebrating downtown’s charming block of shops between Franklin and Webster Streets, from 2 to 5p. When was the last time buying a smoothie and a handbag was such a good deed? I look forward to seeing you there.

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