Danielle Fox, the owner of Slate contemporary gallery who recently celebrated her first year as director of Oakland Art Murmur, points to collaboration and diversity as reasons for the monthly event’s success.
“If there’s anything that Oakland possesses, it is diversity. That’s what is so unique about Oakland. We have nonprofit galleries, artist-run galleries, commercial galleries and classic-car showrooms,” Fox says.
Every first Friday of the month between 6 and 9 p.m., art lovers and hipsters make their rounds in downtown Oakland for the evening party of open galleries, receptions, food vendors, crafts and outdoor screenings. Centered in the Telegraph Avenue and Broadway corridor — with streets closed to car traffic — it’s like Mardi Gras mixed with fine art.
It’s also inexpensive and fun. Using maps featuring participating galleries to guide them in scavenger-hunt style, strollers also can enjoy the simple pleasures of shopping in a vintage store, browsing unique items at a vendor’s stall, tasting free popcorn or hearing live music — either out on the street or from local bands at the Stork Club.
“I loved seeing all the different cultures come together and dance to all different types of music,” says Paulette Cannon, who attended last month’s gathering.
In spring, nine galleries joined the association of participating establishments, bringing the total to 21 galleries and nine mixed-use venues.
The event began in 2006 in Oakland’s Northgate and Temescal neighborhoods when eight art-related organizations decided to hold receptions at the same time; the idea was that a group effort to promote art would gain more attention than individual efforts.
Their notion proved correct. But Fox adds that the positive atmosphere isn’t just about art: “Since we have a critical mass of people on first Friday, everybody wants a piece of that action. We just organize what goes on in the galleries and coordinate the gallery openings because we are a gallery association. Everything else that happens is just Oakland doing its thing.”
IF YOU GO
Where: Broadway and Telegraph Avenue corridor, between Jack London Square and 26th Street
When: 6 to 9 p.m. on first Friday each month