downtown oakland
Downtown Oakland circa 1910

Posts from — July 2009

Film, food and financial rescue

July 17, 2009

This week’s downtown news is brought to you by first-hand experience, online media sources, and the number 30.

Specialty film is the theme of moment, with the International Black Women’s Film Festival opening at the Oakland Museum tonight. If you missed yesterday’s viewing of Afro-futurist classic Brother From Another Planet, there will be another airing of the Black Sci-Fi film fest in August. And 21 Grand is showing an avant-garde video art project this evening,

Yesterday I had the opportunity to enjoy a lunch prepared by the team behind Encuentro, a wine bar and vegetarian restaurant planned for 200 Second St. While they wait on all the hassles to clear to open their restaurant, they host an occasional lunch that is both literally and figuratively underground – in a semi-sunken loft somewhere near the JLS train station. Tuesdays and Thursdays (though not next Thursday), look for an open door to find an $8 gourmet and vegetarian lunch, usually a choice of sandwich or salad (lemonade, ice tea, and cookies are extra). You can find more information by sniffing around Facebook.

In other Jack London Square news, the Chronicle reports that the much-anticipated restaurant Bocanova is coming closer to its debut, with more details available on its New World cuisine and family-style dining. In related news, the forthcoming gastropub on 13th off Clay Jefferson is finishing its buildout and anticipates an early August opening. In perhaps even more joyous news, the hulking half-finished City Walk project across the pedestrian way has been transferred to another developer, raising hopes that the project might actually be finished. New restaurants joining new housing? It seems like the 10k Plan has a little more steam.


Love this and other local blogs? Interested in starting your own blog? Tomorrow morning, and team up to bring you the Beast Blogging Camp, to encourage other East Bay (pig latin for Beast) residents to join the online community. $20 (sliding scale), starts at 8am.


First Friday and Fireworks!

July 3, 2009

Downtown promises plenty to do today and tomorrow, July 3 and 4 2009, from First Friday events spanning the length of the district, to tomorrow’s long-awaited return of fireworks on the waterfront.

ProArts, the non-profit dedicated to aiding and promoting East Bay artists and artisans, has merged with the Oakland Art Gallery. The Oakland Art Gallery, subsidized by the city of Oakland, was one of Oakland’s few galleries dedicated to local artists a few years ago, but now has been eclipsed by private galleries in better locations. Merging the two organizations should help restore focus to the Oakland Art Gallery, and give ProArts better access to like-minded organizations including the city’s Cultural Arts Department. Today, the First Friday of the month, ProArts will present its first show at its new space in Kahn’s Alley.

First Friday was of course popularized by the Art Murmur galleries concentrated on Telegraph, and there will be no shortage of art to see in Uptown. Adding to the likely boisterous atmosphere on this lovely evening, Oakland Soft Rock Chorus will perform in the street around 23 and Telegraph, probably at 8:30. The OakBook’s monthly arts article highlights several of the Uptown galleries’ shows, including Mark Inglis Taylor and Porous Walker at the Hatch Gallery.

Down south, the Ellington, a new high-rise building at 2nd and Broadway, will host a curated “Art Walk,” combining tours of the apartments with works by Oakland artists. Also on 2nd, Swarm Gallery currently displays contemporary landscape paintings by Claire Baker and R. Reynolds.

For those less interested in fine art than street art, Old Oakland’s Fiveten Studio presents its second annual graffiti exhibit, featuring “the Throw Up Style.” Featuring a dozen artists and a hip-hop DJ, the event is at 8th and Broadway.

Between Uptown’s Art Murmur and Old Oakland / Jack London Square’s events, new bar Penelope is getting raves for its cool interior and innovative, savory cocktails. Nearby, on the pedestrian alley between the Federal Building and Preservation Park (what was once 13th St), a gastro-pub is under construction with the goal of opening at the beginning of August.

Many Oaklanders are looking forward to the opening of the Lake Chalet, which promises to grace Lake Merritt with fine, though not daring, cuisine. You don’t have to wait to enjoy a lake view at dinner, since the Terrace Room at the Lake Merritt Hotel has reopened. I’ve heard great things about brunch.

Last but not least: after a two-year hiatus, fireworks will be back at Jack London Square, despite some finger-wagging from budget watchdogs. The Square will provide entertainment starting at 1pm, including performances by a big band and an R&B group. Valet bike parking will be provided by Bay Area Bikes‘ new bike-rental location at 427 Water St. Though it’s likely to be foggy as usual, downtown’s waterfront will boast a spectacular show. See you there!