August 2013 Art Murmur and First Friday

by admin on August 9, 2013

The Oakland Art Murmur for August 2013 had new exhibitions on view in nearly every participating gallery, which encouraged crowds far greater than the past monthly events. After news that First Friday was in jeopardy of closing and was not wholly funded to continue after July 2013, it was great to see there new and returning artists, makers and vendors along Telegraph this month. Below, we’ve chronicled galleries from 23rd to 26th street between Telegraph and Broadway as well as further downtown to Frank Ogawa Plaza and Jack London Square that had new exhibitions on view, celebrating the diversity and vibrancy of Oakland’s art community.

At Johansson Projects, Jennie Ottinger’s exhibition of paintings and an installation, “Members Only” explores the social laws and our human tendency to group, organize, and also unfortunately, exclude: “whether they be members of a congregation, Boy Scouts or sorority sisters.” Ottinger drew inspiration from her own life; everything from her Catholic upbringing where rituals delineate daily activities to major stages of life, to her move from the East Coast to California, where she pledged a sorority in college. Visually, Ottinger renders compositions illustrating these exclusive societies two-fold: a child’s uniform can be darling and sweet, but also resemble cult-like garments, and the exaggerated expressions of a group that beckon viewers into a scene carry a tinge of grotesque in the grin, resembling “both the haunting gaze that begs you to join and the icy glare that assures you are not welcome.” Ottinger’s solo show is on view through September 19, so you can catch it at next month’s Art Murmur, too.

In “Sinter” at Chandra Cerrito Contemporary, Lynne-Rachel Altman’s two seemingly different installations of abstract and figurative glass sculptures and the sugar sculpture installation actually complement her larger investigation into the fragility of human existence, and the corporeality of our selves at times in deep contrast to our highly cerebral and emotional personalities. In the front room, Sheila Ghidini’s solo show “Conversations” features a collection of manipulated chairs as well as a suite of drawings of chairs, which are both read as character studie: “While an empty chair can imply absence, for Ghidini it also acts as a stand-in for the human figure.” The arrangement of chairs also explore the psychology of group dynamics. Chairs joined together infer conversation and bonding, while a chair with extended legs may allude to a higher level of conscious, or indeed deep loneliness and isolation. Both exhibitions run through September 26, 2013.

Bay Area mixed-media artist Clint Imboden’s solo show, “Things,” the inaugural show at Loakal‘s new retail space just one door down from their previous location explores the associations and connotations of commonplace items as well as our emotional attachment to them by placing them in new and somewhat uncanny, but always symbolic contexts. “Things” is a series of found object-based works made from materials scavenged from local flea markets and estate sales. Says Imboden, “I start with the artifacts of daily living, things that most people discard or overlook: battered globes, worn shoes, dilapidated tools. I’m drawn to old materials because they foster purposeful imperfection in my art, an attribute that’s connected to their previous lives. I use them for their connotative, associative or narrative possibilities.”

First Friday, however, must carry a necessity being there that evening, the “one night only” allure: if you’re not there you are missing something that you may not see until next month, or perhaps never again. A one night only pop-up show, “Survive” at 27th and Telegraph featured original works by L.A. based emerging artists Siner, Fishe, Dreye, Kyle Thomas, and Nathan Smith, who work in a monochromatic palette mixing ink, acrylic, markers, brush, rollers, and spray paint. “Survive” joins Oakland with a larger series of exhibitions across the United States that instigate dialogue on the transforming powers of art. Across the street from the exhibit’s location is a mural, created in conjunction with the show. Curator James W Riley says, “These cities represent not only the everyday struggle to survive, but to be great again. We all struggle to survive at some point in our lives. This struggle can be a unifying force that forges a shared vision and identity. However, the struggle itself is incredibly temporary when compared to the lasting durability and enduring spirit of our cities. By inviting street culture purveyors and art audiences to the showcase of emerging artists at a formerly vacant structure and now transformed ‘pop-up’ gallery space, the concept, the process, and the art reinforce the purpose: SURVIVE.”


More about Art Murmur and First Friday; next event is September 6!