downtown oakland
Downtown Oakland circa 1910

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!


1 das88 { 07.03.09 at 2:05 pm }

Thanks for the rundown. I was unaware of the event at the Ellington, it looks interesting. I did go by Penelope a couple of nights ago. Had an Oaktown Heat which was quite delicious.

2 dto510 { 07.03.09 at 2:09 pm }

The two cocktails I had, one of which was the Penelope but I don’t remember the name of the other, were excellent. I can’t say the same of the service, but I’ll definitely be back.

3 Chris Kidd { 07.03.09 at 2:57 pm }

The Terrace Room’s brunch is indeed fabulous. $8 bottomless mimosas, bellinis & bloody mary’s. Oh my!

4 das88 { 07.03.09 at 4:24 pm }

@chris kidd, the bottomless certainly helped me get through father’s day brunch.