When Erica Skone-Rees, owner of Rare Bird, opened her quaint, stylish vintage shop in 2010, she knew she wanted to create a business that gave back to, and augmented, the larger neighborhood. And she wanted other businesses to do the same. Last year, the neighborhood answered her call for a communal event, and the Art Walk was born. An eclectic mix of upscale restaurants, coffee shops, and boutique storefronts, Piedmont Avenue may lack a proper gallery, but it has no shortage of creative-minded businesses, making it the perfect place to blur the lines of what is considered traditional fine art. "It's an opportunity for merchants to open their doors, celebrate local artists, and share a glass with our diverse and talented community," said Stone.
Over the past year, Piedmont Avenue's Art Walk has offered an alternative for art lovers who'd rather avoid Art Murmur's throngs of people, most of them in the demographic somewhere around the legal drinking age. With nearly thirty venues, the Art Walk is the largest of its kind in Oakland. It happens every third Thursday of the month from 6-9 p.m., and the next event, happening on June 21 (summer solstice), may be the biggest one yet.
Start the evening at The Rare Bird (3883 Piedmont Ave.) and enjoy the work of Oakland-based fine-art printmaker Ryan McJunkin. McJunkin's naturalistic butterflies are classic-looking — especially in their "native" ecology, among the vintage Western shirts and classic vinyl LPs. Next, move up the street to Lireille Gallery (3980 Piedmont Ave.), where the strangely beautiful, rusted metal work of Brenda Reinertson adds a dynamic complement to the high-end jewelry the store typically carries.
If you keep going past the jazz bands and other venues, make your way to Montano Velo (4266 Piedmont Ave.), where owner Jason Montano is having a show of his secret photos, much to the delight of the Bay Area's biking culture. Lastly, end your evening across from the Chapel of the Chimes at CH Good Stock (4454A Piedmont Ave.). In front of this oh-so-stylish little repository of so-called "soft vices," Rhasaan Fernandez will be selling gourmet fare from his renowned Boffo Cart, and Juniper Ridge will be distilling natural fragrances from its Field Lab Van.