Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Walk in the Art: Oakland Art Murmur

Me, Art Murmuring.

Recently, I was finally able to attend Oakland Art Murmur, an event I had heard about time and time again but hadn't actually experienced for myself. Every first Friday of the month, Oakland's galleries and mixed-use venues open their doors, allowing the public to peruse local artwork, soak up the creative atmosphere and take in the night air. And that's exactly what Ben and I did this last Friday.

That line of pink dots. That's where the action is.

It took us a while to find the right spot––turns out that my expectations of crowded gallery-lined streets only apply to certain areas of the Murmur. In fact, when we first arrived, Broadway seemed no more crowded than usual and galleries were only a sporadic sighting. After a bit of aimless wandering and one smartphone check later, we found out that most of the action takes place on 25th between Broadway and Telegraph. So, we headed there.

Mercury 20, if I remember correctly.

We meandered through galleries and waded through the art, occasionally stopping when we saw a piece that interested or puzzled us. In one gallery, Mercury 20, there was a photography exhibit called "Along These Lines" by an artist named Paul Mueller. Basically, it featured four panels, each with four photos. The subjects of these photos seemed rather disparate at first glance––a road with a shadow here, a person carrying a pole there––which got me thinking (aloud, to Ben): what was it that connected the photos and the panels together? So, trying to piece together the meaning of it all, we goofily started inventing narratives to fit the pictures in front of us. We got so carried away with our own imaginations that neither of us noticed a man standing right behind us. I felt a tap on my shoulder. 

"Hi, do you guys have any questions that I can answer for you? I'm the artist." he said.

Being somewhat shy, I would normally never approach an artist to ask him about his work, but in this situation and being slightly embarrassed about the whole thing, I couldn't not ask him a question. So my super-eloquent, non-pretentious self pointed at his work and said, "Sure, yeah, um what's going on here?" Thankfully, he didn't seem to be offended by our fanciful visions of his work (or maybe he didn't hear them). 

Either way, he proceeded to explain his vision for the piece, telling us it was inspired by the way people are disconnected in the modern world and that, as I suspected, each panel had something that tied the photos together. In one, for example, each person was carrying something. In another, all the subjects were manly-men. And in another, which appealed to me in particular, told the story of his father's death. There was one photo from that panel that was especially moving: it depicted the last book his father ever read laying unfinished on his bedside table. I was incredibly touched, and of course, still slightly mortified over my earlier act of silliness.

In spite of the distress it caused me, ultimately I was grateful for the experience. It gave me the chance to talk to an artist first-hand about what inspired his work and compare it to my own response to the piece. And most importantly, it gave me the chance to connect with another person and their experience––which, if I'm not mistaken, was the whole point of his work and, in my humble opinion, of art itself. (But, maybe I'm taking myself a little too seriously here. Art has a way of doing that to you.)

Anyways, after a while we got tired of taking things seriously in the art world and decided to explore the much more lighthearted world of the street. The atmosphere on the street was so carefree that––I kid you not–– there were bubbles! Yes, outside, in the middle of the street, was a man and his special bubble making tools, delighting children and young-hearted adults (ahem, Ben and I) alike. 

A little further down the street, there was also what appeared to be an impromptu jam session with a harmonica player who rocked everyone's socks off. Overall, the Art Murmur lived up to my expectations and turned out to be an experience both fun and thought-provoking. Oh and photogenic! Here are some more pictures from that night: 

On the roof of Vessel Gallery.

Still not sure what to make of this one by Kyle Lypka

I wasn't kidding, he had special bubble blowing tools!

The sheer joy of popping bubbles!

When bubbles attack, part 1.

When bubbles attack, part 2.

Listening to the awesome harp player.



  1. Briana, I love your new blog!

    Following you on Bloglovin' now! :)

    Step into Estherina's World

    1. Thanks a lot, Estherina! Lots of love!

  2. Hello Briana ,

    This is Angelo "The awesome harp player", I would like to be in contact with you. I am about to start my solo project after three years of living in the United States.
    My email is

    Thanks for your time and for your awesome blog :)


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