Oakland’s art galleries are kicking off 2013 with a round of new exhibits, from abstract sculptures and bold paintings to photographs and seemingly mundane objects portrayed in a new light. Art enthusiasts can roam Oakland from Alcatraz Avenue to the waterfront this month in search of inspiration, distraction or a fun outing on a weekend afternoon.
In Temescal, the Royal NoneSuch Gallery on Telegraph Avenue and 42nd Street is hosting two different art exhibits during the last half of January. The first, a two-person show by Bay Area artists Mark and Jason Benson, will open this Friday, January 18 with a reception from 7 to 10 pm. The Bensons’ work uses installations and portrayals of everyday objects, and this latest exhibit will be open to the public again on Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 4 pm.
The following weekend, the Royal NoneSuch will host work by German Roza Janiszewska, Reuben Lorch-Miller from New York City and Oakland’s James Sterling Pitt. The show, called “Object Oriented,” is a display of “obscured, misdirected, and/or autonomous objects and sites,” according to a gallery announcement. The exhibit opens on Friday January 25 from 7 to 10 pm, with open gallery hours that Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 4.
In Uptown Oakland, three new shows will debut this week on January 17 at Mercury 20. The 25th Street gallery, located between Telegraph and Broadway, will host solo shows from local artists Eric Bohr and Peter Honig, along with an exhibition of pencil and charcoal drawings.
Bohr’s “Ritual” exhibit, a series of paintings on canvas, uses layers of paint to express what comes of rituals like prayer, meditation and dance. Using a much different medium, Honig’s solo show “Glendessary” displays a series of still-life photographic prints. The black and white prints are studies of found objects, assembled and photographed in ways that explore the themes of mortality and loss.
Mercury 20’s third showing, a joint exhibition by Jody Medich and Jill McLennan, features pencil, charcoal and marker drawings. The show, called “Histoire Noir,” consists of a series of haunting social and political messages. McLennan’s drawings depict Oakland under construction, and Medich’s works are depictions of war, inspired by stories she heard as a child from her family. “We come from an area right on the border between Austria and Hungary … and survived two world wars in limbo between two evils: the Nazis and the Communists,” Medich said.
These three shows will be on display at Mercury 20 until February 23, and are open to the public every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 12 to 6 pm, or by appointment. The artists will speak during a reception at the gallery on Saturday, February 2 from 4 to 6 pm.
Another new exhibition recently opened just next door, at the Vessel Gallery. The show, called “Re/Surfaces,” features paintings by Sanjay Vora and sculptures by Nancy Genn, who helped popularize the use of handmade paper in the 1970’s. She uses a unique method of layering paper to create both three-dimensional, abstract sculptures and paper “paintings” on canvas.
The works in this show strive to share personal memories and feelings from Vora and Genn, bringing visitors into the artists’ world. Both artists have been inspired by nature, history and love, giving their work a dreamlike quality. “This show is a welcome respite from the high velocity world we live in,” said gallery owner Lonnie Lee.
Re/Surfaces will be on display until February 23. The gallery, located at 471 25th Street, is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 to 6. There will be a tour of the exhibit with the artists on Saturday, February 9 from 2 to 3:30 pm.
Just a few blocks away in uptown, the Krowswork Gallery is now hosting a participatory art exhibit called SHE WORLD, in which Los Angeles-based artist Ursula Brookbank works with video and photography. The rooms of the gallery at 480 23rd Street showcase pieces based on the lives of women. Visitors enter in darkness, with a small flashlight to guide them.
The SHE WORLD exhibit debuted in Oakland in early January, and will run through February 9. Krowswork Gallery is open on Fridays from 3 to 6 pm and Saturdays from 1 to 5, or by appointment.
Further into downtown Oakland, Pro Arts is displaying a body of work in a building lobby on Telegraph Avenue. The ongoing exhibit from Liz Maxwell features abstract paintings that use geometrical forms and color to bring to mind landscapes, buildings and other architectural forms. The show, running until March 1, can be seen during the week from 9 to 5 in the lobby of Latham Square building at 1611 Telegraph Avenue.
Over in West Oakland, there are just a few days left to see the Cautionary Tales exhibit at the Transmission Gallery, at 770 West Grand Avenue. This is the third exhibition for the new gallery, which opened last August. The show features paintings and sculptures of intense color, form and textures from artists Livia C. Stein and Elisabeth Higgins O’Connor.
“Through passionately painted surfaces, awkwardly assembled materials, grotesque and haunting stares, artists Stein and Higgins O’Connor offer a sublime provocation, questioning truth, deception and the loss of innocence,” said gallery co-owner Ruth Santee. The work is meant to remind viewers of life’s cautionary tales—for example, pieces with drawings of Pinocchio, the children’s character whose nose grows longer when he lies, address dishonesty.
The last chance to see the Cautionary Tales show will be this Saturday, January 19, from 11 to 5 or by appointment this week.
Venturing out of downtown Oakland to Lake Merritt, the Oakland Museum of California will debut a new exhibition by photographer Beth Yarnelle Edwards. The show, titled “Suburban Dreams,” will open January 19 as part of the museum’s ongoing California Photography Series. Visitors can actually meet the artist on opening day, when Edwards will conduct a gallery tour and book signing from 2:30 to 3:30 pm.
For art enthusiasts, Oakland’s next Art Murmur festival will take place on February 1, 2013. Most of the city’s galleries from Temescal to downtown Oakland will be open late on this date, providing a good opportunity to visit more of the city’s latest shows and exhibits.