Back from the gallery showings…

I neglected to ask, though, if it would be OK to post my photos.  Most of the places my group visited would allow photos to be taken, but some would not.  I think that the ones that did allow cameras might not have said it was OK if I were to post them online.  (For the record, I took them as documentation for whatever presentation it is that I’m expected to give…we really didn’t get a lot of guidance as to what to pay attention to.)

In any case…it was actually a nice outing.  We focused on the Uptown area of Oakland, which has at least one street block where the walker hits gallery after gallery.  Turning the corner, there were at least two other galleries; and then across the street was the Mexican food place we stopped by before heading back.

Looking at the map, I’m pretty sure we hit most of the galleries on 25th, between Telegraph and Broadway.  There are some that don’t show up on online maps, though — particularly a little den we found branching off of Mercury 20.

I reformatted my camera’s SD card before we left, so I was able to take a lot of photos, though I was really more into it at Mercury 20.  I eased up on the picture-taking after we got to Oakopolis, which had an artist-in-residence working with oilbars and paint sticks on giant paper mounted on the walls.

I learned a new bit of etiquette:  before taking photos of art, ask if it’s OK, first.  I had assumed it was OK, but apparently it’s best to ask; one of the last places we visited requested no cameras.  I was kind of scared to ask by the time we got to Oakopolis!

That place didn’t display stuff I was particularly into.  My notes indicate that Oakopolis was the one with the working artist.  Two of my group members exchanged contact information with the gallery owner there as regards book arts.  There was a book there on art made out of books (carved, cut, folded, painted, sanded, etc.) which became a center of conversation.  It was really interesting, though I am not too into book arts myself, so it wasn’t something on which I was an insider.

I think that was as far East as we went.  I’m thinking that the next one we visited (slightly west) was Vessel…the one that wouldn’t allow photos.  Most of the work there is upstairs.

At Vessel, there was an exhibition of works on paper using powdered charcoal plus water and some type of resist (I hypothesized oil)…I wasn’t too into that, but I did find the giant bullet model made out of clear resin funny.  (It looked like ice, and reminded me of the episode of “Mythbusters” where they tried to shoot a bullet made of ice into a side of meat, and failed.)  There were also some resin paintings, which I hear are very fumey and expose one to a lot of toxins; but they were really pretty, transparent, shiny.  There was also some figurative work there — one piece of a cluster of birds, and a giant tiger’s head (half living, half dead) made out of paper-cuts which took, I think the curator said, seven years to make?

In the other direction was Manna gallery, which had a really nice exhibit of an artist’s work, whose name is Luz Marina Ruiz.  Ah — unfortunately, today was the last day to see them (I can tell from my postcard).  She does a lot of monotype prints, plus gigantic linocuts which she then colors with watercolor and then cuts apart for 3-D displays.  I think that this installation (there were some paper pendants hanging from the ceiling as well) was probably my favorite of the day.  But then, I really like color, and the linocuts were really nice as well on their own, without the color.

I just mean…that artist’s work was awesome.  It really stood out from everything else.

In my map of Uptown, there are at least two other places we visited.  One was SLATE Contemporary, which had an exhibit called “Crystallography” — kind of Modern Art type stuff which reminded me of my own work in its impenetrability…  I didn’t take a lot of photos here.  The paintings were pretty and dynamic and all, but I didn’t get a sense of what they were about or of what inspired them (other than buildings).

In the same kind of hole in the wall was The Fourth Wall:  Contemporary Art Gallery (I can’t remember what I saw here) and Roscoe Ceramic Gallery (where the person overseeing the exhibition recommended some other galleries to us).  Apparently there are some other places there that we didn’t see…it was kind of mazelike with the alcoves and doors leading into other hallways, which weren’t visible from the street.

Mercury 20 is the first gallery we visited.  There were a number of different artists exhibiting, here.  By far, for me, the most memorable piece there was called “Gravity” (2016), made by the artist Nick Dong.  This had a bunch of tiny mirrors glued to a piece of fabric, with a magnetic platform in the center.  Above the platform was a floating wooden cube which was spinning.  There were some sounds like birds chirping or a stream (? that’s the best way I can try and recall it), and a light shining down on the mirrors.

The fabric with the mirrors moved up and down while the light from above shone onto the mirrors, which made a projection of light onto the wall which moved while the floating cube (held in place by a very strong magnet) spun.  Right after my group saw it, some people came in and touched the cube, and no one could get it right again.  :/

There was also a piece there called “Improvisation,” which was a mixed-media piece with what appeared to be maps glued down, then rays that looked like global longitude marks painted on top of that, then dots of different colors painted on top of that.  I really liked this one, too.  I think that the longer I looked at it, the more I appreciated it.  The dots seemed to swirl in the same way that I’ve seen flocks of Starlings move.  That piece was by Jo Ann Biagini (2015), at least if the correct list of works was displayed.

There were two other pieces which caught my eye.  One was by Fernando Reyes, called “Bliss” (2014), which appeared to be a rather abstracted painting of aspen branches.  The other was a nude in the very back of the gallery, whose artist I am not sure of.  (I only thought to check on our second visit [we stopped to see if “Gravity” was ever fixed], and the list of artworks seems to have changed to not match the works visible on the walls.)  There was also a sculpture which really rubbed one of my group members the wrong way.  🙂  I think it has potential, but might need some more divergent thinking to help it out.

On our way out, we visited a retailer called Spun Smoke, which had a number of ceramic pieces, a book on Japanese wood-fired ceramics (I’d never thought of using wood), and one painting made entirely out of glitter.  I really liked the glitter one, but one of my group members said it was too sparkly.  🙂  The image was a bare tree over some grass…I have no idea how many colors of glitter were on there, but it was really over the top, in a nice way.  🙂

I think that about sums it up.  I’ve got to go right now, but I will be back later.  🙂

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Haru ("Codey") is a third-year Master's student in Library and Information Science, hoping to find a way to fuse their desire to make the world a better place and to finance their art.

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