Special Guest Post: by Lisa Solomon

by Lisa Solomon


Believe it or not Oakland has a burgeoning and VERY lively contemporary art scene. There are a lot of artists who live and work in Oakland. A LOT. What's great is that it seems like there are people working in all kinds of media ­ traditional painting, sculpture, photography etc. but also artists who are interested in exploring newer genres, performative, mixed media, and installational type work. Often traditional galleries are leery of work that doesn't simply hang on a wall. This is where non-profit spaces, artist-run spaces and more non-traditional galleries step in. Oakland has become a mini-mecca for these spaces.

It seems like plenty of DIY folks have just decided that they are going to open up shops, galleries, and cafes and feature artwork that interests them. Some of them have big budgets and have slick spaces, some of them are doing this out of the front rooms of their living spaces. They are all doing it out of love because in these economic times you can imagine that art is the one of the last things that people are rushing out to buy.

A main feature of the Oakland art scene is the Art Murmur. Galleries have decided to stay open late the first Friday of every month. It's a great way to spend an evening. Many spaces are within walking distance of each other. It's also great people watching. You can learn more about the galleries that participate in the Murmur here {oaklandartmurmur.com]. Please take note that some of these galleries have very limited hours ­ this is because most of these folks have to keep their day jobs and do this [labor of love remember?]. Be sure and check hours before you decide to make the trek to see a space.

Today and tomorrow I want to feature two of my favorite neighborhood gallery spaces. They consistently put on strong shows, are run by some of the nicest people on the planet, and they are with-in walking distance of my house ­ a little off of the grid in terms of where other galleries are located, but well worth the trip.

First up is Blankspace Gallery. It's run by Kerri Johnson [kerrileejohnson.com] and her partner Jason Byers [jasonbyers.net] who are both incredibly talented artists in their own right.


why did you start your gallery? Why did you choose to be off the beaten path?
I had been wanting to start my own space since I graduated from SFAI and our friend Adam was already running Lucky Tackle gallery at this location and wanted to stop, he knew I was looking and offered me the space...which I gladly took over. (this also answers why we are off the beaten path - the opportunity came my way and it happened to be located on 66th and san
pablo...you could say the space chose me, I did not choose the space.)

was there a hole that your felt needed filling in the Oakland Art Scene?
Yes especially at the time there were a few new spaces popping up, but there was still a need for new spaces that focused on the emerging talent coming out the art schools.


how does the Oakland Art Scene vary from San Francisco's?
I would have to say that from my experience the art scene in Oakland is more community driven, not only with the type of shows being curated, but also amongst the spaces, we all work pretty well together as a whole and genuinely support and work with one another on a regular basis.

what kind of art do you tend to focus on.... Sum up your program/intentions for us.
Blankspace primarily focuses on exhibiting emerging artists (both local and international) in a wide range of media. Blankspace seeks to foster solid relationships with artists, collectors, non-profit spaces and other contemporary art galleries in the hopes of expanding the Bay Area arts community.

off the top of your head name 3 artists that are inspiring you right now [you don't have to work with them, but it's fine if you do]
Sam Lopes [samlopes.net]
Henry darger [en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Darger]
{lisa's note also one of my all time personal favorite artists!!]
and dutch conceptual artist, Bas Jan Ader [basjanader.com]

what is the best part of owning a gallery?
Working with artists, meeting new people, bringing people together

what¹s the worst part?
Gallery sitting on days when you are alone and have to go the bathroom and there is a non stop flow of people...and days when I am all alone...


dancing ­ pro or con?
LUV IT!!!!!! PS- not a well know fact but I am currently a member of an all girl dance troupe called Tekniq-we have been hailed as the "Best, almost amateur, junior high dance troupe that is performed by adults...unforgettably entertaining..."

hug or handshake?
Handshake the first 2-3 times, then progress into a hug, if you don't know me, don't hug me....a hug needs to be earned...

what did you have for dinner last night?
Carrot soup from Franklin Square wine bar in Oakland.

anything else we should know about you and your space????
Come visit us, between Lena {owner of compound gallery and the subject of tomorrow's post] and I, there is always fresh coffee at hand, we love to get visitors who come hang out with us on the benches in front of our spaces...

Also ­ Blankspace and Compound gallery are having a HUGE handmade sale for the Holidays. Otherwise known as HOLIDAYLAND ­ this is the place to come to get small works of unique art and all kinds of handmade goodies to give as gifts. Why not support small artisans??


Dec. 5 - Dec 15th, 2008
First Friday Holiday Cheer Reception: December 5, 6-10pm
Holiday Cheer Sunday Reception: Dec 14, 4-7pm

{images: front of gallery, Misako Inaoka [misakoinaoka.com],
Pete Nelson [blankspacegallery.com/gallery/nelson], Peter Foucault [blankspacegallery.com/gallery/foucault/index.html], image from This House is Not a Home [blankspacegallery.com/gallery/house], Moira Murdoch in the foreground- ceramic houses on rubberbands, Middle ground- Alexander Cheves-skyscraper and buildings made from wood, back wall multi piece drawings of dream vacation homes by James Gouldthorpe}

Blankspace gallery
6608 San Pablo Ave
Oakland, CA 94608

Special Guest post by Lisa Solomon

Jan Halvarson

No comments: