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Grow Your Oakland http://www.growyouroakland.org
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grow  art archives


Oakland has a thriving arts scene that grows from the unique diversity and intersection of our communities and connections. We encourage all of us to support local artists by noticing, sharing and buying their work. If you'd like to be featured as a local artist whose work is about or inspired by Oakland, please contact us with your details.



elizabeth rivera: views of a cemetary

elizabeth rivera's images of Mountain View Cemetery are all about taking pleasure in the immediate landscape. Many of us have been in Mountain View and seen its panoramic bay views, but this uniquely vast ground has something to look at everywhere you turn. elizabeth's photos find the curve of the land, the form of everyday trees, and the life abundant in a place for the dead--all shot with a Blackberry Torch.


Oakland is such a beautiful city! I hella love Oakland! As an Oakland resident for the last 34 years, one of my special and favorite places to walk is the Mountain View Cemetary off of Pleasant Valley Road. The grounds are expansive, decorated with majestic trees full of colorful leaves making it seem like Fall when it's supposed to be Winter in the Bay Area. I love the silence one finds here that makes the hummingbirds' wings sound like airplane engines as they zoom around me. So many different routes to explore, going past structures and markers commemorating the lives of those laid to rest here. I am in awe and humbled by the multitude of breathtaking and beautiful views of the West and East Bay while walking in this precious and welcome gem of urban serenity. Enjoy! -elizabeth


Click thumbnail or image for larger views






alexis babayan: signs

We got a tip on Alexis' work from a flyer spotted at the local art supply store and knew right then and there we had to have it on the site. The rich color, graceful lines and graphically compelling subjects come together as gorgeous prints of some of Oakland's most classic commercial signs and their surroundings. The signs themselves are a slice of history--of Oakland's economic landscape, and of handmade/pre-digital sign design. How many do you recognize?


"For the last three years or so I have been working on a series of woodblock prints documenting the urban landscapes of the East Bay, especially the well-worn signs of liquor stores, barber shops, and other small businesses. This series focuses on an aspect of urban life that can be both beautiful and ugly, something which was devised to attract attention, and which is paradoxically often ignored. I am most interested in signs that are handlettered, weathered, and imperfect. They have a personality and a history. They are worn down by the rain and faded by the sun. The rust-red of an old metal sign becomes like the red of blood or desert sand, improbably beautiful against the blue sky. The sign is painted over and repainted. Over time, the traces of former signs show through and form a kind of palimpsest. An urban archeologist could discover fragments of many stories by looking at the different strata of chipped paint. All are transitory... the vanitas scenes of the city street.

About my process:

These prints are based upon photographs that I took while wandering around the streets of Oakland and Berkeley. Once I have an image that I like, I draw it out using pencil, brush, and ink, and decide how best to translate the image to the woodblock medium. I carve the image into a block of wood or linoleum. There is a separate block for each layer of color used in the design. Each block is inked up with an oil-based ink, the paper is laid over it, and I burnish by hand with a flat wooden spoon to transfer the image."

See more of Alexis' work at www.flickr.com/photos/babayan/






eva silverman: wpa posters

Eva Silverman's poster prints have captured the spirit and style of an earlier era's economic stimulus plan for artists: the Works Progress Administration. Honoring both the creative work and positive messages embodied in WPA productions of the 1930's, Eva's elegantly stylized prints encourage public support for local green space, city art programs, grassroots heroes and relevant social issues.


“I am an east coast transplant who lives in Oakland, California with my cattledog, Pebs. The camera has been an accessory to my crime since childhood. From my roots in NYC to my current home, my photographic work documents people in their native places, workers, the ironic and iconic, and the gritty and the pretty in the day-to-day life of the city.


As a seasoned photographer, I fell in love with graphic design after seven years in the non-profit world, and have happily united my passions for social justice and design through my studio, Pushcart Design (pushcartdesign.com). My series of WPA posters celebrate historic Oakland places as well and Coney Island, Harvey Milk and Barack Obama. One of my designs has recently been published in the TASCHEN book Design For Obama: Posters for Change, a Grassroots Anthology.


When I moved to Oakland eight years ago, I had only dabbled with developing my photography. Being a graphic designer had yet to cross my mind. I was inspired by Oakland: by the communities surrounding my neighborhood and depth and breadth of culture--the differences and similarities on both sides of the lake, and the gritty and pretty details that make up the heart of the city. My own development as a graphic designer and professional photographer flourished. I've been focused on showing the 'real' Oakland, not the Oakland that people outside the Bay Area hear awful things about, but the beautiful place that I love, live and work in.


The ideas for my Works Progress Administration (WPA) posters was salvaged from the long lost WPA posters of the 1930's--when artists were paid by the government to create images with a community purpose. It was their posters who championed state parks, theater, and victory gardens. My WPA series takes the basic ideas of community empowerment from yesteryear and place them in our current political, social and economic context.


I credit my passion for documentation and workers' rights to her Punk Rock roots and Grandma Gladys, who grew up working in the sweatshops of NYC's Lower East Side.”


You can see Eva's work on the following websites:

Pushcartdesign.com

flickr.com/evasilverman

pushcartdesign.etsy.com







kelly correll brown: everyday imaginings

Kelly Correll Brown's work mixes textures, media and tone to tell stories at the intersection of imagination and reality. Layers of possibility quietly unfold in what first feels like a pleasing construction of the familiar--there is accessible room to explore that interplay of consciousness and projection. Kelly breaks it all down for us here...

On Her Work: There is an underlying theme throughout my work that is centered on the loose interpretation of dreams as fairy tales and fairy tales as reality. I work within the realm of imagination and try to marry this into the mundane events of everyday life. I find interesting, the contrast between what we see as reality and what the imagination places into our consciousness. I describe my work as reflecting an “absencescape”. The landscape of the whole is hinted at through an absence of literal imagery. It is similar to the space between alertness and dreams when reality is blurred just a bit, an escape from absence.

I work with many different materials and in a variety of techniques. Because I have a background in textiles, sewing, painting and drawing I incorporate elements of all of these techniques within my work. I do not like limiting myself to working on one piece at a time. This process allows me to begin to build a story that can flow circularly rather than linearly.

My greatest hope is that my work reflects my belief in the powers of whimsy, absence, fear, silence, and an ever-evolving story.


On Living in Oakland: Eight years ago I transplanted myself, my husband, 2 cats, and 1 goldfish to a small apartment on 14th Street in downtown Oakland. In retrospect, it was one of the best ideas that I have ever cooked up; I have been in Oakland ever since.

The friends that I have made, the people that I have encountered, my time at CCAC (yes, it was still CCAC when I went there), and the musical projects that I have been involved with since my move have changed and molded the artist that I have become. I am ever curious about the parts of my City still unexplored and the parts that are not now with us (anyone remember the junkyard that used to be under the BART overpass in West Oakland--best place to buy mannequins EVER). Oakland is truly an eclectic and inspirational place. It has ignited my imagination more times that I can count.

I'm glad I decided to stay.



See more of Kelly's work at www.kelbrown.com and www.absencescapes.blogspot.com; contact her at misskel66@gmail.com.









Alexa Kalani: Oakland Photographs

Alexa Kalani was born and raised in the Bay Area. As a black queer woman she seeks not to define life's differences, but to capture the nuances of livelihood. A constant observer, she takes film pictures and is also a producer of documentary and experimental short movies. As a resident of Oakland for 4 years she has seen lots of things, most notably grass growing out of impenetrable cracks, crack heads sharing community dinners, kids hustling selling cookies to play sports and people working out how to live life beautiful.

For new work and updates go to lexalani.tumblr.com. Merchandise can be found at Alexa's Cafe press shop Scattering Stars Like Dust and you can email her at oakdust@gmail.com.






Molly Bradley: Oakland Birds

This month we're very happy to present the glowing ink and paper meditations of Grow Your Oakland family member Molly Bradley. Molly is an aspiring children's book illustrator and is pleased to have been inspired by Grow Your Oakland and the birds of Oakland to develop this series of prints. She is appreciative of the diverse and really cool wildlife here, and also of the accessibility of linoleum and rubber stamps for printmaking.


Molly's bird prints are homages to some of the familiar winged wildlife in town. The crowd-pleasing Black Phoebe and the bad-mouthed Pigeon get equal treatment as the graceful and intriguing subjects of richly textured portraits, with each bird's essence elegantly depicted. Molly's uniquely-rendered images of common urban residents honor our daily birds and are clearly informed by an awareness of their value--basically, we love that.


Even better, Molly's Oakland bird prints are available exclusively in our store in both digital and hand-printed formats starting at a supremely affordable $10. Pick up a print, support local art and show your love for Oakland's feathered life all at once--the makings of a great day.


Get in touch with Molly Bradley at stripedgrub@yahoo.com.






Marlon Sagana Ingram

Marlon Sagana Ingram, aka The MSI, is a truly blessed artist and designer. We love all the dense color and BOOM in his work, whether we're talking about coconica silkscreen stylings, on-fire flyers or ink-on-wood portraits spanning time and place. Marlon's design has supported many Bay Area positive endeavors and we think his for-real talent paired up with his commitment to locally uplifting projects make the MSI the perfect choice for our debut.


Because Marlon's coconica work draws from Oakland and Bay Area visual iconography and has been gorgeously sported around town by local excellence (Goapele looks good in coconica, trust), we're featuring the internationally dug fashion of coconica for your lucky self. Check out the gallery, then dip over to Marlon's site to view the tight design and glowing energetics that is The MSI's truly awesome portfolio.


Coconica is stunning in the sense that he dazzles the un-subconscious. It reflects a persona of process and circumstance on the surface with layers of deep knowledge embedded underneath. Each shirt is rich in color emanating life and timeless fashions fusing with indigenous icons, digital raw media, and the architectural monuments of many ages imprinted in the Bay Area. Seemingly incongruous images in communion as crossroads of poly-genesidic beginnings become iconographical testaments to a present-future-past that is native to movement and constant cyclicity.


-Cicely Sweed, Yerba Buena Art Center, SF








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