First Friday was popping. Oakland November 2012
Maybe there were 10,000 people at this Friday's Art Murmur/First Friday, not 20,000, but the folks who were there were happy. Strolling in their finery, smiling on the streets, chatting with their friends and checking out everything happy. And we were happy too. My friend and I kicked off the night at the very pretty Flora, right in the middle of everything, with small plates of food (a yummy charcuterie plate and a barracuda cerviche), a glass of wine and aGgreyhound at the bar. As we chatted away, servers ferried Manhattans and plates of food across the room and we felt very satisfied to have our little spots in front of the glowing bottles.
Outside, the streets were filling up as well and the crowd inside Sole Space, Jeff Perlstein's new shoe store/art gallery/performance space were busy sipping wine, munching snacks and buying small prints and cards by the exhibiting artist, Oakland's Favianna Rodriguez. The show featured Favianna Rodriguez, Oree Orginol, and Julia Salgado and was called "Metamorfosis: Visions of Tranformation, Renewal & Day of the Dead" The space was packed--and filled with shoes, boots and sneakers , along with art--and the team ran back and forth to the storeroom, fitting shoes--not a bad start to a new endeavor.
We went from Sole Space to Betti Ono, passing a relatively calm Awaken Cafe and heading into what was a majestic and thrilled series of large wall pieces by Karen & Malik Seneferu as part of a show called WHAT IS BURIED IS NOT LOST: RELICS, SHRINES & SACRED OBJECTS. According to gallery curator Ankya Barber, this colorful multimedia exhibit of installations, paintings, sculpture & video was meant to honor the ancestors, promote healing and highlight the resilience of the human spirit--and the pieces lived up to that billing. I was particularly struck by Karen Carraway Seneferu's wall pieces, which were powerful constructions with images of Rosie the Riveter and some orishas.
After Betti Ono, we headed downTelegraph, stopping in at sex shop and community center Feelmore 510, and then at Shoe Groupie before hitting the festival booths for Gursha Food, estilo, painter eesu orindide's t-shirts and hoods spot, and the glitz pink popchips truck offering tons of clothes. I lost my friends in the crowd and had a dead cell phone, so I finally settling at the intersection of Telegraph and 20th for the GROW sessions, a music and spoke word series using a giant solar-panelled truck to power the sound and then set out for for Jazz Alley, where I caught trumpeter Marcus Cohen & The Congress featuringh & Mic Blake.
The booths--and galleries-- stretched down the way, from 20th all the way through to 26th with people walking, biking and in some cases skateboarding from one destination to another.
For people who've done First Friday before, it was another night of Oakland celebrating itself,with people from all over the city coming together to enjoy the city streets, listen to some music, look at some art, check out some styles, have some good food and drink and just be present. It was a good time, a good night and a reminder that the next First Friday, a month away, will be the crazy holiday popup moment when everyone would be out selling and this ws, by comparison, kind of calm.
(Who I ran into in my travels: Steve Fisher, CJ Hirschfield, Abel Gullien, ashara ekundayo, Consuelo Jacobs, Helen Wyman, Howard Dyckoff, Penelope Adibe, Ankaya Barber, Favianna Rodriquez, Neena Joiner, Natalie Nadimi, Jeff Perlstein, Jodi Tonita, and 10,000 other people.)