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Awesome Oakland Art Walk

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This Guest post is by Oakland resident Sarah King-Cash. She wrote the words and took the pictures

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The “after hours” walking tour is where I find my favorite installations. We end at LeQuiVive, most everyone from the initial tour disburses. I’m obsessed with two pieces outside the door. Both twisted, gruesome, hideous, and gorgeous. I want to stare for hours. A few others from the initial tour are standing out and admiring as well. The creator of the Joyce Gordan Gallery’s weekly E J Brew & Brush class is currently finishing up; somehow I’m feeling like an intruder on Spring Flowers. The original artist flits around the space willing every novice there to replicate his masterpiece; waiting for a diamond in the rough to show through the water colors of pretty pretty flowers.

I walk around taking in the rest of what the gallery has to offer. I am faced with striking pieces that force you to contemplate the upsetting realities that can be urban life. I eavesdrop on a couple of
men disagreeing on the attack plan of creating an abstract painting “if you stand far enough away you see what you’re supposed to, but if you need to stand so far away you’re not a genuine artist and your appreciation is a joke”.  Apparently.

At last, Oakland Art Murmur calls! Those of us there for their monthly free Saturday offering huddle together, shuffle, and we politely smile all around and set off into the unknown of downtown Oakland.  Into the urban wilderness we bravely face stares from locals wondering what the fuck we’re all doing there. The group leader politely smiles at the city around him. I assume he wants to assure the city that we want to appreciate the raw, urban culture of Public Art, and not further gentrify it’s home.

Public Art, is the theme of the day after all. The question posed today: What is public art?  A UN piece, ever rotating iron work of Uptown, inspirational faces and quotes carved of iron and the history of the great city of Oakland. Breathe it in, bask in it, and know that the city, like its art, is alive and ever changing. Art Murmur is a fantastic program. All locally run and worth taking a few minutes of your precious Googling time to check out.

What I took from this walking tour? Oakland is alive. Pulsating. Thriving. Unapologetically raw, quirky and pissed off (at what? Everything! Shut up). Deal with it, or don’t, this town is cooler than you’ll ever be.

Yet, under all the attitude, it is a community just trying to protect and lift up its own. This town is flawed in so many of the right ways. You will never own her; she will own you and you will feel privileged if you are chosen.

The “after hours” walking tour is where I find my favorite installations. We end at LeQuiVive, most everyone from the initial tour disburses. I’m obsessed with two pieces outside the door. Both twisted, gruesome, hideous, and gorgeous. I want to stare for hours. A few others from the initial tour are standing out and admiring as well. The creator of the gallery asks if we’re up for one more walk. This is where Oakland is found.

murmur 1Be Proud Oakland! Oakland stole this mural project from San Francisco. The artist (Zio Zigler) and the UN felt that Oakland and her community better embodied the spirit and message they wanted this piece to convey. This mural encompasses every flag and culturally significant pattern from around the world. The person is both Male and Female and of no color or creed with the symbols of the UN painted in as well. This mural was to personify unity. Find it: Uptown district.

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This may be one of the illest pieces your face has had the pleasure of witnessing. The story goes: Zigler was going through a bit of a dramatic break up (as we do) and used this mural to move on. Can you imagine being this amazing during a break up, instead of just a hot drunk mess? Find it: between 14th and 15th street Downtown Oakland.

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This piece is amazing, not only in the insane amount of beautiful chaos happening on one wall, but, because this was a massive collaboration of prolific Oakland (bay area) street artists. The idea was this is a giant train with a tag and flavor of each artist represented as it crashes into Oakland. Find it: 17th street toward the lake on an abandoned building.


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Unfortunately, my extremely well-versed and connected guide couldn’t give me an artist name for this piece. This was my favorite; I didn’t want to move from it. I wanted to shove the Lexus away and trace my fingers along every ripple of this painting. The eyes everywhere and sensual spilling over of form hypnotizes me.

The almost tactile connection this art form lends itself to is one of its finest attributes. It is there for the viewer to touch, to take in, to think about for as long as it still exists in that space. The Urban scene is forever pulsating with change, life, destruction, growth. Get out and see it before the city swells and ebbs in another direction.

Check out Oakland Art Murmur‘s awesome list of FREE events including Saturday Strolls and First Friday evening walks: HERE


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Alex Mak - Managing Editor

Alex Mak - Managing Editor

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