Archive for the ‘Oakland Happenings’ Category

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Check out City Canvas at the First Friday Art Murmur!

June 1, 2010

Come check us out this Friday—and spread the word! The City Canvas Westlake murals will debut on Friday, June 4 at Farley’s East (Grand and Broadway in Uptown) as part of the June Art Murmur. New murals will cycle through the gallery throughout the month of June as each set is removed to be installed on traffic signal boxes. Look for the murals on signal boxes along Broadway, Grand, and Harrison beginning later this month. For more information on the project, visit www.citycanvas.org.

See you there!

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Saturday, May 22: Come paint the town (Uptown, that is!)

May 12, 2010

Please come to the first City Canvas Community Paint Day at Westlake! Join City Canvas, a new East Bay arts organization, for painting, food, and drinks in the parking lot between Westlake Middle School and First Congregational Church on Harrison. We’ll be painting murals designed by Oakland artist David Stern-Gottfried in collaboration with eighth-grade students at Westlake Middle School. In June, these murals will be on display for First Friday (location TBD, so stay tuned!) and then installed on traffic signal boxes throughout the Westlake/Uptown area. Thanks to Westlake Middle School, Open Circle, the City of Oakland Public Art Program, Benjamin Moore Paints, and Whole Foods Oakland for their support of this project.

For more information on City Canvas and the Westlake project, check out our website.

Live in the neighborhood or own a business with a window for flyer-hanging? Click here to download a flyer.

A few notes:

  • Families are welcome, although painting activities will be geared towards adults and youth in grades six and above. (Westlake has a beautiful lawn, though, so feel free to bring along other outdoor activities for the younger crowd!)
  • If you drive, please try to park on the street as we’ll need the parking lot itself for painting.
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Restaurants coming out my ears (or: the spring restaurant report)

May 11, 2010

It’s been a long, long time since I’ve posted any restaurant news….which means there’s a whole lot happening to report! Here’s a quick pass at what’s coming up. (I’m quite sure I’m missing a bunch of stuff, since I haven’t been paying much attention to much of anything but work and wedding planning this spring….but I promise to catch up this summer!)

Temescal/Pill Hill

  • Little Mac, a macaroni-and-cheese restaurant (?!? sign me up!) that will also have craft beer and tasty sounding salads and desserts, is slated to open at 40th and Shafter this fall.
  • Commonwealth is due to open later this month at 29th and Telegraph, and will be a British-style pub. If they have good fish and chips, we will be regulars!

Piedmont Avenue

  • Sparky’s is indeed open. And it is indeed an extension of the burger place up in the hills.

Grand Lake
Grand Lake is kickin’ this spring!

  • Mimosa reopened as Mimosa Ethiopian Restaurant at Santa Clara and Grand.
  • YaYu Ethiopian is also now open on Lakeshore where Vine used to be.
  • La Taza de Cafe plans to reopen (yay!) where the Grand Lake Neighborhood Center used to be on Lake Park. There will apparently be a small Cuban takeout place next to a larger cabaret, says the Splash Pad newsletter.
  • Good Chemistry Baking, a gluten-free bakery, will open where Daily Delectables used to be.
  • Yogofina, another of the trendy tart yogurt shops, is coming soon on Lakeshore (and also to Montclair Village).

Uptown/Upper Broadway
…but not as much as Uptown!

  • Pakxe is going in at Broadway and 30th where Union Auto used to be on Auto Row. This is super exciting because it’s the first reuse of an auto space on the main Auto Row drag. (Mua also reused an auto space for their Webster Street place.) No clue what kind of food it will be, but the name suggests Laotian.
  • Plum, Daniel Patterson’s new restaurant,  is coming soon where Louisiana Fried Chicken used to be—and will be expanded in the coming months to include a bar where Franklin Square Wine Bar used to be. This is exactly what I was hoping for in this space. (Well, okay, I didn’t necessarily have a chef in mind, but broadly, it was the perfect timing to combine the two spaces and really make use of Franklin Square’s plaza, as FSWB was doing.) Go Uptown! Also, it is named after a William Carlos Williams poem that was one of my favorites in high school, which bodes well…
  • Xolo, the new taqueria from the Dona Tomas/Flora crew, is still under construction.
  • Uptown Café & Crêpes is now open at 21st and Franklin.
  • Bakesale Betty is open at Broadway and Grand! (Woohoo! Now if only they had weekend hours…)
  • More pizza! Hurray! (Because, in case you haven’t figured this out, D. and I really, REALLY like pizza.) Mua is expanding into the space where the short-lived Cafe Noir used to be on Webster, and will be making pizza for me (okay, and everyone else in town…) (Cafe Noir had a wood oven, so I presume it stayed with the space.) No details yet. (Incidentally, is this Uptown? Or Upper Broadway? Or still Auto Row? Curiouser and curiouser….one of our neighbors predicted we’d live in Uptown in ten years’ time, and I do have to say that it seems to be creeping this direction!)

And falling off the radar…

  • The third Pizzaiolo location in Uptown now has a “for lease” sign back in its window, which I presume means that project is toast. Boo. (But at least we’ll always have Boot and Shoe…)
  • Kotobuki Sushi on Piedmont has moved to Montclair.
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Building Oakland’s neighborhoods through community art

April 2, 2010

Community building and neighborhood identity are two of my favorite things to think about, and I’m very lucky to be surrounded by many friends who share these passions. We each have our own take on these ideas, and last winter, some of us found ourselves talking about how we might bring our diverse interests together into a single project, and specifically, a community arts initiative.

Over a year after we first conceived of this little project, we are extremely pleased to announce that City Canvas, our brand new community art organization, is finally ready for prime time! And I’m very excited that our very first pilot project is right here in my own neighborhood!

What is City Canvas?
City Canvas is a grassroots project intended to foster neighborhood identity across the East Bay through community-driven public art. A collaboration of professional and seasoned teaching artists, community builders, city planners, and arts administrators, the City Canvas team was brought together by our common desire to contribute to the vibrancy of our cities. Currently, our city faces high crime rates and heightened racial tensions, with few venues to come together and celebrate our individual and collective identity as Oaklanders—yet we know that Oakland is teeming with creativity, diversity, and youthful energy. City Canvas will create opportunities for shared visioning and creation of public art in neighborhoods across Oakland through partnerships with city agencies, neighborhood schools, businesses, residents, and local artists.

The idea for City Canvas emerged from:

  • A commitment to the diversity and vibrancy of Oakland, its neighborhoods, its culture, its businesses, and its residents;
  • The knowledge that art is a universal language and that collaborative, creative expression helps build individual and collective identity;
  • A trust in the transcendent power of our individual and collective connections to the places we love;
  • A belief that every individual has a story, a voice, and the ability to share it with the world;
  • A love of public art that is bold, beautiful, and an honest representation of the community in which it lives; and
  • The desire to connect with and contribute to the beautiful city of Oakland.

What is the Westlake Project?
Our pilot project, a series of murals that will be installed on traffic signal boxes in the Uptown/Lake Merritt neighborhood, is currently underway. Through a grant from the City of Oakland Public Art Program’s Oakland Open Proposals (which in turn is funded by the Open Circle Foundation), City Canvas is currently working with an eighth grade leadership class at Westlake Middle School near Lake Merritt. As part of the class, the students will work with the community, create art that explores their identities as youth and as Oakland residents, and examine how they fit into the broader civic community.

Lead teaching artist, professional muralist, and Oaklander David Stern-Gottfried will adapt this art into a format to be painted and installed on a series of traffic signal boxes throughout the Uptown/Lake Merritt neighborhood. As part of the design process, students are actively engaging local residents and businesses, and an open paint day in May will provide an opportunity for interested community members to be directly involved in the project. Student work may also be featured in gallery settings as part of Oakland’s June First Friday Art Murmur. The murals will be installed in late June 2010, with a dedication to follow in the fall.

Westlake students work with artist David Stern-Gottfried on collages to represent their identities

How can you get involved?
Whether you live in the neighborhood or not, we would LOVE to have you involved! Community residents and businesses are invited to come and participate in the project. We also plan to present the finished canvases as part of the June First Friday celebration before they are installed on the signal boxes. (Know anyone with gallery or window space who would like to host the exhibit? We’re hunting for a great spot in the Uptown/Upper Broadway area.)

Westlake Community Paint Day
Saturday, May 22, 2010, 10 am to 1 pm, First Congregational/Westlake Parking Lot (entrance at light on Harrison across from Whole Foods)
Come help the City Canvas team, students, and their families paint the parachute cloth that will ultimately be installed on signal boxes. You don’t need to know anything about painting or have any art skills—we will provide all of the materials and will walk you through the process of translating the designs the students and artist have created into large-scale pieces of art. We will also provide refreshments and water.

June First Friday Celebration
Friday, June 4, 2010, 6 pm to 9 pm, Location TBD
Once the canvases are finished, they will be on display in early June so that students, their families, and other interested community residents can get a peek before they are installed on the traffic signal boxes in late June. There will also be a formal dedication of the boxes sometime in the fall.

Our partners
This project would not be possible without the hard work of a lot of key partners across the city. Among them are:

  • City of Oakland Cultural Arts & Marketing Division: CAM coordinates public art throughout the city, and funded our project through a competitive grant from the Open Circle Foundation.
  • City of Oakland Public Works Agency (PWA), Electrical Services Division: We have an active partnership with PWA, and are extremely excited to be working with their team for this project. We hope this can be a model project for other neighborhoods in the city hoping to use City-owned spaces for community art in the future.
  • Westlake Middle School, where administrators, teachers, and students have worked hard to make this project a reality. We hope to work with Westlake again in the future!
  • First Congregational Church, Westlake’s next-door neighbor and a supportive partner on this project.
  • Whole Foods Oakland, providing food and drinks for project workshops.
  • Benjamin Moore Paints, donating paint for the project.
  • Local businesses in the Westlake neighborhood, who are helping to ensure that the project is a success.

A very big THANK YOU to everyone who has helped City Canvas get off the ground!

Want to learn more? You can check out our website, which has more on City Canvas, the Westlake project, and our second project, an art class at King Middle School in Berkeley that will become a part of a much larger mural project on Shattuck Avenue. You can also contact us via the website (or via this site) for more information on how to get involved, or if you have ideas to share.

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The very long overdue winter restaurant (and bar!) update

February 16, 2010

I realized it’s been months and months since I did a restaurant rundown, which is no good! Here’s a very quick summary of food news in the ‘hood…

Already here or coming soon in Grand Lake:

  • Zoey’s Afghan Bistro, the newest addition to the growing Middle Eastern scene in the neighborhood.
  • Boot and Shoe Service, Pizzaiolo’s sister restaurant. Yay for pizza even closer to home!
  • Yayu, a new Ethiopian spot on Lakeshore, is coming soon to the spot that housed the short-lived Vine.
  • Heart and Dagger Saloon: There’s a changing of the guards happening at what used to be the Serenader, one of the last remnants of the old Grand Lake. This new bar is due to open this Friday, February 19th, and I’m super curious to see what they do with the space! (If Yelp is to be believed, they will have pinball, video games, and pool. Maybe they can be kinda like the Chatterbox Pub in Minneapolis—a city that has the art of neighborhood bars mastered—except without the 3.2 license….that would make me happy!)
  • Mimosa Café, under new ownership: Rumor has it that this Grand Lake spot isn’t gone for good, but is merely changing hands. We’ll see.
  • Kwik Way, the Sequel: A yet-to-be-named replacement for the long-closed Kwik Way Drive-In on Lake Park by the owners of Somerset is finally under construction. No ETA, though.

Already here or coming soon in Uptown:

  • TrueBurger: Former BayWolf sous chefs do burgers, milkshakes, and fries. Reviews say “better than In ‘n Out”—but with sustainable meats! How can you go wrong?
  • Hibiscus: It’s open! Yay! We have reservations to try the Caribbean food later this month, so I’ll report back then.
  • Era: Okay, it’s a bar, not a restaurant, but still. We’ve been eyeing their empty* windows forever, so I’m glad they’re finally open! Full report once we’ve tried their cocktails out. (*Okay, not actually empty, but filled with cool teasers, which is why we were eyeing them! Let’s go with “vacant” windows instead.)
  • Bakesale Betty: Someday, someday this will come off the “coming soon” list, if the stars are aligned in our favor. I hope. April is the current ETA on this, and there’s activity and a hole in the paper on the windows, so we’re ever hopeful.
  • The other Pizzaiolo sister restaurant, name TBD. They have the beginnings of a liquor license, though it’s still in process. But that’s promising! (I don’t speak ABC so I can’t say exactly why it’s on hold or what that means, though.)

Already here or coming soon on Lower Telegraph:

  • Phat Matt’s BBQ: Loved him at the Grand Lake market? Now he’s got his own spot! We haven’t made it here yet, but it’s just a few blocks away so it’s high on the list. I’m also excited to see more restaurants staking out this stretch of Telegraph, which has struggled to keep retail for years. With Oasis Market opening just down the street a few months ago and several small coffee shops, it’s finally starting to fill out. Yay! Look for him next door to Neldam’s.
  • Remedy Coffee is trying its best to open soon—and you can help out! You can prepay set amounts ($1000, $750, $500, or $250) and get a percentage back in a setup similar to Awaken’s credit system. Check their Facebook page for details. Their sidewalk cart is already up and running, too.
  • SR24: Okay, I can’t believe I missed this one given the name! Anyway, this comfort food spot popped onto the scene this week, replacing Bear Naked Burgers in the little mini-mall across the street from the Temescal library branch.

Already here or coming soon on Piedmont:

  • Sparky’s (maybe?) Something is happening with the space at 4151 Piedmont, which has been vacant forever. Way back in December 2008, a restaurant called Sparky’s (which may or may not be related to Sparky’s Giant Burgers up near the Mormon Temple) had a plan for this space, but there’s been no movement since then, though ABC says they got their liquor license in October. So possibly this is Sparky’s coming back from the dead, or maybe something new is afoot. Keep an eye out!
  • César Latino: Okay, this is really just Piedmont staple César, but the restaurant has reinvented itself as a Latin American hot spot featuring South and Central American dishes, rather than the Spanish tapas it has traditionally featured. So it’s almost like a new restaurant to try!

And leaving us are:

  • Café Noir: This closed eons ago, shortly after it opened. But now they are definitively gone. Not sure what went wrong here, as they weren’t open long enough to even get their feet wet…maybe a change of heart. But a great spot for a new coffee shop, which are in short supply in our neighborhood, so hopefully there’ll be some takers!
  • Louisiana Fried Chicken: This place always seemed busy, so possibly this is just a victim of rising rents. I never ate there, so can’t say I’ll miss the food, but I did think it was going to be funny when there was a quadrangle of fried chicken in Uptown (with variations served at Luka’s, Pican, Bakesale Betty, and LFC). Ah, well.
  • Mimosa Café: I never managed to get to this spot either (maybe all of these restaurants are dropping at my hands?!?) but they had a brunch that was widely loved in the ‘hood. It will supposedly reopen under new ownership soon (see above).
  • Franklin Square Wine Bar: Don’t know details here, but I’m sorry to see Uptown losing one of its newest spots. That means two wine bars have come and gone in the neighborhood in as many years…maybe Oakland isn’t the spot for these? With luck, maybe this will be the magic time for a new restaurateur to come in, lease both the FS Wine Bar and LFC spaces, and take down the wall between the two, since one challenge Franklin Square did have was its tiny, narrow seating area. We’ll see… (Incidentally, not in the neighborhood, but I did recently notice that Wood Tavern in Rockridge, one of our favorites, is doing just this: taking over the adjacent storefront and growing out a bit.)
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Celebrate the holidays in Oaktown

November 27, 2009

The day after Thanksgiving traditionally marks the official start of the holiday season! Here’s the 2009 run-down of things to do in town to celebrate. (Is something missing? Let me know and I’ll add it to the list!)

Citywide:

Jack London Square/Downtown:

Uptown/Lake Merritt/Piedmont Avenue:

Rockridge/Temescal:

West Oakland/Golden Gate:

Montclair/Oakland Hills

Fruitvale/Jingletown:

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Plaid Friday: Shop local this holiday season!

November 23, 2009

Yep, it’s that time of year again—and as usual I haven’t even started thinking about holiday shopping yet. Luckily, though, this Friday is Plaid Friday in the East Bay—which means it’s time for indie holiday shopping! “Plaid Friday” is a concept created by two independent East Bay businesses to help encourage Bay Area shoppers to go local on the Friday after Thanksgiving, traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year.

What you need to do to participate:

  1. Wear plaid on Friday, November 27, 2009 in support of local independent businesses.
  2. Look for plaid placards in shop windows or visit the Plaid Friday website to find independent East Bay businesses near you that are offering special discounts or hours.
  3. Buy stuff from local independent businesses on Plaid Friday and in the weeks to come!

There are dozens of independent businesses participating in the day of festivities, so here’s a quick sampling of just a few near my ‘hood. Check the website for their special Plaid Friday discounts and hours.

And don’t miss the after-party:

Penelope Bar and La Borinquena Mex-icatessen
Corner of 11th & Clay, Oakland | Plaid Friday Hours: 6-11pm

Penelope Bar and Tina Tamale of La Borinquena are joining forces for a Plaid Friday afterparty. Once everyone is worn out from shopping at fine indie businesses, we are inviting everyone to quench their thirst and fill their bellies with us.

$3 Plaid Friday Shots | $6 Select Signature Drinks | 1 cent Indie Special shot if you wear plaid | $6 Tamale Plate with tortilla chips & salsa