Works by local artists are going on display at 19 shops and cafés along Piedmont Avenue in Oakland between Rio Vista Street and Mountain View Cemetery ahead of the in the business district, which takes place this Thursday, June 16, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The event is the brain child of Erica Skone Rees, who opened up The Rare Bird at 3883 Piedmont Ave seven months ago.
Since her days as a jewelry artist, Rees has had a strong commitment to creating community for and among artists. At The Rare Bird, she's made space for local artwork among her eclectic wares. Each month she features works by two different artists at the shop–the exhibit openings spill into the street.
For Rees, organizing an all-out art walk was the obvious next step.
“It’s important to bring new energy to the Avenue and remind people that we’re here and we’re doing great stuff,” Rees said.
So she joined the and her idea quickly gained enthusiasm.
Nathan Waldon is preparing two tables at Nathan & Co to showcase Sandra Lee Lawson’s jewelry and Michele Tusniac’s table top gardens. Both artists live near Piedmont Avenue.
Waldron described the art walk as a win-win-win for the artists, who will benefit from free exposure, merchants struggling in this economic climate, and Oakland's cash-strapped city government that stands to rake in a few more tax dollars from additional shopping hours.
Visitors to the avenue who stop by at least 10 merchants Thursday will be entered into a raffle. Strollers will also be treated to refreshments at participating establishments, some special bargains, music, and jovial run-ins with the neighbors.
"Our street has an incredible diverse vibe to it," Waldron gushed. "We have Ivy League types next to the extended earlobes, tattoos, next to African Americans who sing in the Baptist choir. Our street is a melting pot of every kind of people you can imagine, where we are really interacting and having fun with each other.”
The plan is to hold art walks every third Thursday year round. Waldron and Rees both expect more stores and eateries to participate in coming months.
“Many merchants emailed me that they weren’t able to participate this month, but want to be included in the next one,” Rees said.