Gourmet food trucks, runway models, ceramic aliens, bourbon balls, handmade jewelry, street performers, vintage autos, and watercolor prints of Freddy Krueger and Jaws. See all this and a cacophony of more more more at Oakland Art Murmur, a first-Friday art walk. Two dozen local galleries—most between 22nd and 26th streets on the Broadway/Telegraph corridor—throw open their studios to the public from 6 to 9 p.m., while art, craft, and food vendors set up along 23rd Street, which is closed to traffic between Telegraph and Valley.
I like to start my night with a little something to eat. Among my favorite mobile meals are the Doc’s Classic Burger with spicy Cajun green beans from Doc’s of the Bay, a citrus pork sandwich with fennel slaw from Vesta Flatbread, and liqueur-soaked chocolate treats from the Bourbon Ball Guy.
Once I’ve had my fill, a stroll through the latticework of exhibition spaces offers a more aesthetic fulfillment. Open galleries range in size from the intimate warmth of The Moon—hawking indie fashion designs and party moustaches handmade from vintage drawer pulls and porcupine quills—to the grand bazaar at the 25th Street Collective—selling geometric felt handbags from Actual SF and percussion instruments made from salvaged wood by Windmill Corner.
In addition to offering avant-garde art and one-of-a-kind gifts, many Art Murmur venues emphasize sustainability, philanthropy, and cooperative values. At the Rock Paper Scissors Collective on Telegraph, volunteers offer free and low-cost classes in zine printing, clothing design, and jewelry making. The Creative Growth Art Center on 24th Street gives adults with disabilities an outlet to create, display, and sell their paintings, woodcarvings, ceramics, textiles, and photographs. In 2009, Creative Growth artists even teamed up with the legendary Marc Jacobs to fashion a limited edition line of totes, tees, and clutches.
From a 1961 Corvette at Classic Cars West to wild pen-and-ink cartoons at Smshbx Gallery to stop-motion projections on the Great Wall of Oakland, the first Friday of the month is a whirlwind walk through the beating heart of East Bay imagination.