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Oakland Museum of California Presents Exhibition Exploring West Oakland’s Social, Economic, and Demographic Shifts, Generating Community-Driven Discussions Around Gentrification

(OAKLAND, CA)—In July 2016, the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) will present a new exhibition that explores current and accelerating social, economic, and demographic changes in West Oakland as seen through the eyes of the community. Entitled Oakland, I want you to know…, the exhibition will feature artworks co-created by artists and community organizations, as well as contributions by hundreds of Oakland school children. Museum visitors are invited to consider the people and places that make a community, imagining some of the ways they can play a role in shaping the future in Oakland. On view in OMCA’s Gallery of California Art, the exhibition asks the question “How can new and longtime residents of Oakland play an active role in shaping the changing identity of our city while preserving the aspects of what make Oakland unique?”

West Oakland, a neighborhood that has dramatically changed in recent years, is the point of departure for this conversation that delves into significant issues that affect all of Oakland and other communities in California and the US. Exhibition visitors will encounter video installations, photographs, and community projects contained in environments inspired by some of the iconic structures found in West Oakland. Within each space, visitors will be introduced to snapshots of key conversations from the neighborhoods through the voices of the people, organizations, and businesses that call West Oakland home.
The exhibition is curated by OMCA Curator of Public Practice Evelyn Orantes, in collaboration with artist and social justice practitioner Chris Treggiari, and runs July 23 through October 30, 2016.

Oakland, I want you to know… is part of a multi-year artist/community-driven series designed to respond to important community needs and inspire residents of the Oakland Museum of California’s surrounding neighborhoods—Chinatown, Fruitvale, San Antonio, Uptown, and West Oakland—and the broader Bay Area community to connect to their personal creativity and express their cultural identities. Other projects in the series have included the successful exhibitions Who is Oakland? and Tell Me Where the Mirrors Go, all of which have been supported, in part, by the James Irvine Foundation.

Curator Evelyn Orantes says, “Like many communities, at the heart of West Oakland is a sense of belonging and caring about your neighbors. Oakland, I want you to know… explores how we all can play active roles in shaping community in times of rapid change. We invite visitors to participate in this conversation about the opportunities these changes provide and concerns about how we can preserve what makes West Oakland vibrant and unique.”

Highlights from the exhibition include:

Referencing real-life examples of buildings and neighborhoods found in West Oakland such as newly-constructed lofts and historic Victorian houses, visitors will encounter Julie Plasencia’s powerful photographs documenting the relationships between the different cultures, socio-economic classes, and religious affiliations among neighbors. Video installations by renowned documentary filmmaker Alex Frantz Ghassan illustrate the stories of Oakland community members with varying perspectives on gentrification. A replica of a West Oakland BART train will house Youth Radio’s award-winning West Side Stories, an interactive map uncovering landmarks and communities directly impacted by gentrification in the region.

Once deemed the “Harlem of the West” as a thriving blues and jazz community, West Oakland’s rich history will be honored through a section dedicated to creative producers. Oakland’s flavor comes through in the structure referencing the now-shuttered Esther’s Orbit Room, where visitors can listen to local musician Fantastic Negrito’s powerful songs from his album The Last Days of Oakland.

Chris Treggiari and Peter Foucault’s Mobile Arts Platform (MAP) project Oakland Re: Construction uncovers Oaklanders’ perspectives on the city’s changing landscape during the current construction boom, displaying responses from the field and asking visitors to contribute their own ideas about the kind of city they’d like to construct.

Through hands-on activities and political displays of activism, visitors will absorb community perspectives and voice their hopes and concerns for the changing community. Posters by Oakland printmakers Michael Wertz and Querido Galdo will prompt visitors to create their own poster art to be displayed within the exhibition. 

Socially conscious business practices that benefit the community of West Oakland will be represented by textile-based sculptures and installations from Angie Wilson in the Community Garden section of the exhibition. A video installation incorporates the perspectives of businesses and organizations including Acta Non Verba: Youth Urban Farm Project Founder Kelly Carlisle and City Slicker Farms Executive Director Rodney Spencer, addressing the need for healthy organic food in inner city food deserts through urban farming. 

Additional video contributors include Betti Ono Gallery’s Anika Barber, Jasman Records’ James Moore, performer Faye Carol, VSCO Curator Adrian Octavious Walker, and West Oakland resident Paul Beal.

Oakland, I want you to know… is supported by a grant from The James Irvine Foundation with additional support from the Oakland Museum Women’s Board and the California Arts Council. 

About Chris Treggiari
Chris Treggiari’s artistic practice strives to investigate how art can penetrate the public realm in a way that can connect wide ranges of people and neighborhoods in a variety of communities.  Chris focuses on highlighting diverse community identities, shared histories, and personal stories through participatory, mobile platforms that encourage exploration from the viewer. Often these participatory platforms entail creative methods, which aim to turn the passive viewer into an active art maker who can participate in sharing their personal voice in a community dialogue.  

Chris has worked and exhibited internationally including the Venice Biennale 2012 American Pavilion as well as nationally at Torrance Art Museum, the Getty Museum, Berkeley Art Museum, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the San Jose Museum of Art, the Oakland Museum of California, and the ZERO1 Biennial in San Jose. Chris has received grants from the Puffin Foundation, the San Francisco Arts Commission, the Creative Work Fund, the Arts Commission of San Jose, The Seattle Center Foundation, and the Oakland Arts Commission, U.S Bank, and the Zellerbach Foundation to name a few.  His work has been reviewed in such publications as Art Ltd., The New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, to name a few.  Chris is currently a teaching artist in-residence at the Center for Art and Public Life at the California College of the Arts.


All Power to the People: Black Panthers at 50
October 8, 2016 – February 12, 2017
In Fall 2016, the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) will present a major exhibition to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Black Panther Party’s founding on October 15, 1966, in Oakland. Presenting a contemporary view of the Black Panther Party’s legacy from multiple perspectives, All Power to the People: Black Panthers at 50 will show how the Party continues to inspire culture, social activism, and community empowerment efforts locally, nationally, and internationally. Designed to create empathy and emotional resonance, the exhibition explores the Black Panther Party as a necessary, heroic, and human response to societal needs. Informed by insights from former Black Panthers, artists, scholars, and community members, the exhibition will feature art installations, historical photographs and media presentations, artifacts, and contemporary works of art.

Out of the Box: The Rise of Sneaker Culture
December 22, 2016 – April 2, 2017
The first exhibition to explore the significance, complex design history, and evolution of sneakers, Out of the Box: The Rise of Sneaker Culture opens at the Oakland Museum of California in December 2016. Sneakers have long been a fashion staple and symbol of popular culture, worn by millions of people and transcending generations and socioeconomic status. Within the exhibition, visitors will view more than a 100 pairs of iconic sneakers from the 19th century to the present, including rare collectibles from the archives of brand-name manufacturers such as Adidas, Nike, and Reebok, and selections from renowned sneaker collectors—affectionately known as “sneakerheads”—including hip-hop legend Run DMC, sneaker guru Bobbito Garcia, and Dee Wells of Obsessive Sneaker Disorder. The exhibition will prompt visitors to reflect on sneakers as a representation of identity and sports fashion, while also incorporating community-inspired elements including what it means to be “Town-fitted” Oakland-style, a term developed to represent local fashion. Film footage, photographs, design drawings, and interactive media will showcase the history, technical advancements, fashion trends, and marketing campaigns that have played a role in the sneaker’s evolution. Out of the Box: The Rise of Sneaker Culture is organized by the American Federation of Arts and the Bata Shoe Museum. The exhibition is curated by Bata Shoe Museum Senior Curator Elizabeth Semmelhack with OMCA Curator of Public Practice Evelyn Orantes as the host curator.

Dorothea Lange: Politics of Seeing
May 13 – August 13, 2017
Through the lens of her camera, Dorothea Lange documented 20th century life with riveting, intimate photographs that showed the major issues of the times. The emotional impact of her works continues to resonate with millions and illustrates the power of photography as a form of social activism. From documenting the plight of Dust Bowl migrants during the Great Depression to magnifying the grim conditions of incarcerated Japanese Americans during World War II, Lange’s photographs demonstrate how empathy and compassion, focused through art, can trigger political action. Dorothea Lange: Politics of Seeing presents approximately 100 photographs to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the artist’s gift of her personal archive to the Oakland Museum of California. Drawing upon vintage prints, unedited proof sheets, personal memorabilia, and historic objects, this exhibition takes a unique approach to a beloved American photographer by examining how her artistry and advocacy swayed minds and prompted significant change in this nation’s history.


Warriors Pride, Oakland Pride
Through Fall 2016
In celebration of the Golden State Warriors’ 2015 NBA Championship and 2015-16 record-breaking season with 73 wins, the Oakland Museum of California’s Warriors Pride, Oakland Pride installation includes 350 square feet of exhibition space in the Gallery of California History reflecting the community’s civic pride for Oakland and the team. Museum visitors will be given the exclusive opportunity to view special items provided by the Warriors Community Foundation, including a 2015 NBA Championship Ring lent to OMCA by Mayor Libby Schaaf and the City of Oakland, a jersey signed by the entire 2015 Championship team, a signed basketball by this year’s record-breaking 73-9 team, and sneakers worn by Warriors players Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, and Festus Ezeli. Interactive features will prompt visitors to reflect on and express why they are proud of Oakland and the Warriors.

Altered State: Marijuana in California
Through September 25, 2016
In Spring 2016, OMCA presents the first-ever museum exhibition to focus on marijuana in California today. Designed as a catalyst for conversation and reflection around the marijuana plant, its uses, evolving public attitudes, and the complex policy and social issues surrounding it, the exhibition explores the many ways that people consider cannabis, presented through the perspectives, knowledge, and opinions of a diverse range of community members and groups. With marijuana increasingly in the news, and California on the verge of making important decisions around marijuana that will impact people living in this state, the exhibition provides a community space where people can come together to learn, question, discuss, and add their voice to the different points of views surrounding this complex and evolving topic.

Bees: Tiny Insect: Big Impact
Through June 2017
This exhibition in OMCA’s Gallery of California Natural Sciences takes a look at the wildly diverse and intricate world of one of the most important creatures to human agriculture and the natural environment. Through family-friendly experiences, hands-on activities, and media, Bees: Tiny Insect, Big Impact touches on topics of honeybees and Bay Area beekeeping, the diversity of California native bee species, citizen science projects, and the similarities between bees and humans. Visitors will discover real bee specimens under a microscope, crawl through a human-sized beehive, and try on a beekeeper suit. In an immersive gallery environment, visitors can explore the causes of bee population decline, learn about the significance of bees to California’s economy and ecosystems, and discover how simple but powerful actions by Californians can help bees to survive in a changing world.

The Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) brings together collections of art, history, and natural science under one roof to tell the extraordinary stories of California and its people. OMCA’s groundbreaking exhibits tell the many stories that comprise California with many voices, often drawing on first-person accounts by people who have shaped California’s cultural heritage. Visitors are invited to actively participate in the Museum as they learn about the natural, artistic, and social forces that affect the state and investigate their own role in both its history and its future. With more than 1.9 million objects, OMCA is a leading cultural institution of the Bay Area and a resource for the research and understanding of California’s dynamic cultural and environmental heritage.

The Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) is at 1000 Oak Street, at 10th Street, in Oakland. Museum admission is $15.95 general; $10.95 seniors and students with valid ID, $6.95 youth ages 9 to 17, and free for Members and children 8 and under. OMCA offers onsite underground parking and is conveniently located one block from the Lake Merritt BART station, on the corner of 10th Street and Oak Street. The accessibility ramp is located at the 1000 Oak Street main entrance to the Museum.


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