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Art & Soul Oakland to Maximize Fun, Arts with New Events and Expanded Focus

originally posted by Oakland Local

Oakland’s 2012 Art & Soul Festival is getting a fresh spin.  

Now in its 12th  year, the immensely popular Aug. 4 and 5 music festival is shifting its formula to focus more on local acts and on providing series of events and experiences that will broaden its appeal.  

Late-night dancing on Frank Ogawa Plaza – with audio-video art installations and multimedia performances that compliment local DJ Dyloot broadcasting from the rooftop of Oakland City Hall – will join a Crucible-tinged art show and a brand new concentration of local food trucks. These new features add to Art & Soul’s proven blend of local and regional acts on music stages throughout downtown Oakland.

“Oakland is such a amazing place, we wanted to bring in more of the local arts community and tap some of the Art Murmur and foodie destination energy,” Samee Roberts, the festival’s long-time producer, said. “Teaming up with The East Bay Express helps us to broaden the reach and add a new music stage. We’re also teaming with de Young Artist Fellow and Artist-in-Residence Alumni, Ex’pression College for Digital Arts, the Black Rock Arts Foundation, The Crucible, NIMBY, Pro Arts and American Steel Studios to have more art on display than ever before.”

Organizers also are encouraging the public to purchase tickets early. They are available online at

Showcasing local art, artists

This year’s Art & Soul has the spirit of Oakland popular Art Murmur/First Friday. Thirty-five original East Bay Express “art racks,” created by some of the region’s best street artists and masters of the spray can, will be displayed outside at Art & Soulin – the walkway between Frank H. Ogawa Plaza and Oakland’s City Center. This collection of outdoor newspaper boxes converted into functional art pieces has been curated by Oakland-based artist Eddie Colla, whose art also has been turned into wearable designs by 5733.

At the nearby Pro Arts Gallery, a digital gallery of artwork by Oakland artists will showcase Oakland’s ranking as having the most artists per capita in the country, outside of Greenwich Village. The gallery will be exhibiting the “What we can’t see but want is art” Bay Area Currents 2012 show will be open both Saturday and Sunday. 

Another projection installation – 200 Yards @ Oakland City Hall – is a collaborative community digital project with Lightbox SF that features images capturing the unique neighborhood character found within a 200-yard radius of the famous oak tree in Ogawa Plaza.

Inside historic City Hall, the Oakland Underground Film Festival on Saturday night will show a collection of new and renowned feature films by local filmmakers in the third floor Council chambers. OAKUFF will  present music videos, short fiction and documentary works that speak directly to the culture and character of Oakland, plus a sample of September’s upcoming OAKUFF 2012 events and programs.

Just outside of the chambers on the third floor, six art installations will be displayed.John W. Wood’s engaging, sensual works on paper with successive layers of graphite, crayon, oil pastel and pigment stick will frame the entry doors to Council chambers.Taro Hattori’s final iteration of “PENETRATION” is a large-scale three-dimensional sculpture crafted from hand-cut cardboard. The original missile installation was disassembled (“destroyed”) to suggest something had happened to the vessel as it ended its journey, allowing the viewer to see the exhausted body of the missile. The course of the journey is represented by the accompanying photographs LOT 51 and RANCHO SECO PARK. 

Also on the third floor, Oakland-based Namita Kapoor will be exhibiting new artwork created specifically for Art & Soul that draws from her dual heritage as both a South Asian and an American. Her multi-media work is a hybrid of Western media, craft, ornament and symbolism. 

Another art piece making its debut at Art & Soul will be a large-scale digital drawing with paper cutouts by Mayumi Hamanaka, an Oakland-based artist. Her work revolves around the idea of how history, personal stories, individualism and group dynamics are all tangled within a society. She examines her own perspective and experience in the context of how history is written and how we decode it in our current surroundings.

Two de Young artist fellow and Artist-in-Residence alumni artists, Ramekon O’Arwistersand Todd T. Brown, will also have installations on the third floor – bringing additional creativity and color to the beaux arts architecture of historic City Hall. “Sated Above the Salt,” a sculptural installation by Ramekon O’Arwisters, resurrects traditional African shamanistic aesthetic while remaining unquestionably contemporary. He meticulously attaches found objects, mirrors, feathers and nails to everyday objects, imbuing them with spiritual power and significance. The everyday object that serves as a base for his piece on display is a chair placed on four, salt-filled goblets.

Todd T. Brown will use his 20 years of experience exploring artistic disciplines and presenting small-scale arts within the context of local and global communities to create a new mixed-media art piece for Art & Soul. Brown is a founder of the Red Poppy Art House and the Mission Arts and Performance Project, as well as being an artistic advisor for the EDELO contemporary art center in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico.

On the grand stairway’s central landing in City Hall, Oakland’s own Masako Miyazakipresents “The Knot” as an open symbol suggesting both the societal ideal of diverse entities united for a common purpose and an entangled structure produced by the processes of complicated relationships and compromised situations. Miyazaki’s piece, exhibited for the first time publicly, represents knottings and unknottings as a natural series of changes resultant from the negotiations of different ideas brought to City Hall.

On the ground floor of City Hall, Oakland-based American Steel Studios artist Jane Elliot will create a whimsical diorama. Nearby, Tracey Snelling – an internationally renowned, Oakland-based artist – brings her multimedia works to Art & Soul. Through the use of sculpture, photography, video and installation, Snelling gives her impression of a place, its people and their experience and allows the viewer to extrapolate his or her own meaning. 

Another exciting collaboration this year will bring large-scale, Burning Man-style sculptures from artists associated with the Black Rock Foundation and Oakland’s own NIMBY. The Crucible, the Oakland based nonprofit educational facility that fosters a collaboration of Arts, Industry and Community, will demonstrate some of crafts they practice.

If You Go

Art & Soul Oakland 2012 takes place in downtown Oakland from 2 p.m. to midnight Saturday, Aug. 4, and from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 5.

Festivalgoers can save money by buying tickets in advance online. As always, children 12 and under enjoy free admission to the festival. Online admission prices are $10 for Adults and $5 for Seniors (65+) and Youth (13-17). 

The easy-to-use system allows purchasers to print their tickets at home and walk directly to one of the festival’s three entrances, bypassing ticket purchase lines.

A family paradise, Art & Soul Oakland boasts the largest Family Fun Zone of any festival in the Bay Area, complete with kid-friendly rides and carnival games, inflatable bounce houses and interactive arts.

The festival is centered in Frank Ogawa Plaza and City Center, encompassing ten strollable city blocks. Art & Soul Oakland offers direct service from BART (12th Street – Oakland City Center Station) in addition to free parking for cars and free bike valet parking. 

For more information on Art & Soul Oakland 2012, visit or call (510) 444-CITY.

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