Explore the Oakland art scene at Art Murmur gallery night

Oakland, California-– known as an up-and-coming city just east of San Francisco-– is becoming a hot spot for visual art. The emerging art and bar scene has led to Oakland being dubbed the “new Brooklyn” and “Williamsburg of the West Coast.” The scene has been written about in numerous media outlets including the New York Times.

Visitors to the San Francisco Bay area (a region that includes San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley) can see the hype for themselves at Art Murmur, a popular gallery night held on the first Friday of each month.

Making Art to Sell

Oakland Art Murmur (Photo: PunkToad/Flickr Creative Commons)

Art enthusiasts (and party-goers discretely drinking booze in paper bags) flock to Oakland for Art Murmur, also known simply as “First Friday.” Gallery doors are usually open until 10 PM and the party continues on the street well past then (check oaklandartmurmur.org for the latest exhibits).

Local eats

Of course you can’t see art on an empty stomach. Oakland resident Tim Chansy, an entrepreneur, was more than happy to share his favorite dining spots with Downtown Traveler readers:

“Foodies will especially enjoy the cuisine choices around the art studios. Look around and you’ll see a myriad of choices from sandwiches at Ike’s Lair to Ethiopian at Shashamane to high end restaurants like Plum and Ozumo–as well as loads of food trucks.”

Getting around

Oakland is only two stops from downtown San Francisco on the BART train and once you arrive getting around isn’t a problem. A free bus runs down Broadway (the main drag) and gives people access to many of Oakland’s studios, restaurants, bars, and clubs. The Free “B” Broadway Shuttle operates Mon-Thurs 7am-7pm; Fridays 7am-1am; and Saturdays 6pm-1am.

Still, the best way to experience First Friday is on foot. Navigating the heavily-incensed sidewalks you’ll see local vendors selling everything from oil paintings to hand-made ceramic ash trays to $1 tamales.

Suggested itinerary

If you want to avoid complete crowd madness, start at 27th Street and walk south towards 20th Street. Make sure to check out 25th Street, especially Vessel Gallery (471 25th Street) and Mercury 20 (475 25th Street).

Afterwards, head down to 19th and Telegraph to chat with Oaklandites at the best bar in town opened by Brooklynites: Make Westing. The cucumber and basil infused martini is highly recommended.


About the Writer

Guest writer Lauren Koch

Lauren Koch is a native New Yorker who enjoys exploring Oakland’s art and food scene. While she does not have a backyard chicken coop (yet), she is the proud owner of Abyssinian guinea pig.

A professional photographer and web designer, Lauren founded the art blog Inside and Outside the Dominion to share her musings on the digital world and alternative culture.

Follow Lauren on Twitter (@surehillary) and Facebook.

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About Lauren Koch

Lauren Koch is a native New Yorker who enjoys exploring Oakland’s art scene and sharing her musings on the digital world and alternative culture.