CREW LOVE

CREW LOVE

Lauren Crew on her photographic career and shooting "ideas, not things"

 

Lauren Crew sits across from me in the too-loud Oakland coffee-shop/hipster mecca where we both feel slightly out of place. Technically, we hella belong. We fall perfectly within the 23-35 age bracket that recently populates the ever-gentrifying neighborhood we’ve picked to meet in, though we’ve both known Oakland from our youth. Then there’s the fact that we met through a blog and have shared walls in local art shows. But Lauren’s not your average. Her handful-of-years head start out the womb on the rest of the coffee shop kids is transparent every time she opens her mouth to speak in witty, thoughtful prose. Lauren’s pigtail braids, gold name necklace and thick rimmed glasses might have you thinking she’s 10 years younger than she is, and her relatability flows effortlessly with every excited hand gesture and sarcastic remark. It’s that ease and humility that keeps reminding me of her experience on this earth and my adoration of her. And her work.

Lauren takes pictures, but not just any pictures. She takes pictures for large-scale installations, jewelry campaigns, fashion lookbooks and, just as importantly, for personal growth. Back in undergrad, when she picked up a film camera while abroad in Ecuador, she really didn’t think anything of it until folks started to take notice. Since, Lauren has developed her skill for capturing hard-hitting concepts and visual texture into a viable business and undeniable presence in the local arts scene. With nearly a decade of shooting, framing, hanging, installing and slanging under her belt, Lauren has become plenty well versed in creating work and the art of presenting it.

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BLACK ARTISTS ON ART

BLACK ARTISTS ON ART

Oakstop brings a legacy of black art to Oakland for First Friday

Black Artists on Art

This Friday, February 6th, the creative coworking space Oakstop will be celebrating its first anniversary and opening its gallery doors to welcome Black Artists on Art: The Legacy Exhibit. Oakstop is the dream of founder Trevor Parham, a longtime friend of the ‘ties and art curator. You might remember him from last year’s Town Business group show, which aimed to celebrate Oakland’s timely artistic current. Since, he has transformed that very emphasis into a more permanent spatial presence. Sitting just above 19th St. BART, Oakstop functions as a shared work environment, event space, and art gallery, that, as their mission statement reads, “fosters collaboration, professional development, and economic sustainability for creative entrepreneurs and local businesses.”

The Black Artists on Art exhibition is based on a book series of the same title, created by Dr. Samella Lewis in 1969, that showcased actively producing black fine artists in light of the disregard they often experienced from mainstream art institutions. Lewis’ grandson, Unity Lewis, is working to continue the legacy of the series through a revival, and publishing new books for the series that include contemporary black artists. Friday’s exhibit will serve as a launch for the broader campaign to recruit over 500 new black artists for the series, by showcasing work from 36 original and contemporary contributors for a three-generations-deep display of black fine artists. For a sneak peak of some of the iconic art included in the show, peep the images below. The event will be held upstairs at Oakstop’s 1721 Broadway gallery space, and runs from 6pm till midnight. It’s about to be legendary. See you there.

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TOTALLY STOKED

TOTALLY STOKED

All-around artist Marilyn Rondon keeps it unapologetic and all the way 100

In a world that tells women to shove it up our twats and shut up, I’m just trying to take up space. It’s a simple mantra, really. One that reminds me, while in a hurricane of rage for all things socially and systemically oppressive, that I’m ready for war. A call to action, if you will: Women! Let us take up space! I wear this mantra daily–in the width of my hips and the volume of my voice and the texture of my hair. I wear it in refusing to apologize for my biology or censoring my talk of vibrators and diva cups. And I’m just out here, really. Living that simple truth one day at a time. Trying not to get felt up on public transportation, or belittled for every expressed emotion, or violently yelled at for politely denying a sexual advance from a car full of dudes on my walk home. But a real win is finding other women putting on in the fight, beside me. And my latest ally discovery is the multitalented warrior goddess, Marilyn Rondon.

Marilyn is a self-made Venezuelan queen with a tatted crown to match, a master of all things creative and of keeping it all the way 100. Since beginning her artistic journey at a design high school in Miami, Rondon has followed her heart and affinity for adventure and authenticity into a layered career involving 35mm photography, zine production, paint, installations, modeling, and writing.

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DOMA YOGA

DOMA YOGA

Malidoma Collective's donation-based approach to community healing

Malidoma Collective

Malidoma Collective is a powerful group force of female vision for creativity, community, and wellness. And for anyone paying attention in the town these days,the group and its members are an integral piece of Oakland’s social and cultural fabric. Through their unified productions, as well as individual endeavors, Malidoma offers opportunities for cultivating cultural empowerment and social regeneration through art and engagement, not unlike their beautiful and experiential installation at our original Feels event last May. The latest development to evolve out of the Collective is Doma Yoga–a donation based yoga series dedicated to healing people of color, their communities, and specifically West Oakland, through radical self-restoration.

Doma Yoga manifests as a series of three-month-long intervals, with a one month break in between, and rotating instructors and locations. During a given series, classes take place from 11am to 2pm each Saturday and include two yoga sessions and one guided meditation. Instructors are invited to facilitate a class on the basis of their representation and engagement in yoga and communities of color.

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MEET BASS COAT

MEET BASS COAT

Joshua Fisher and Eda Levenson fuse nail art and music into an immersive live experience

Joshua Fisher and Eda Levenson are best friends and creative collaborators. After meeting in their freshman year of college at UC Santa Cruz, they quickly connected through their shared interest in social justice work and artistic expression. But when the two entered separate grad schools that put 1,000 miles of separation between them, their bond only strengthened, inspiring the duo to expand culturally and creatively, together.

These days, Joshua is better known as DJ Creelfish, with a residency at The Layover and a stacked Soundcloud, while Brooklyn-based Eda works under her alias Lady Fancy Nails, boasting an impressive collection of nail artwork, and a following of adoring fans. Together, however, they are Bass Coat; a bi-coastal collaboration of audio, visual, live, and wearable art. In fusing their respective mediums, Eda and Joshua manifest as Bass Coat to create eclectic mixes and performance-based events for their friends and following. The latest edition of the Bass Coat mixes just dropped this week, in anticipation of their collaborative event with our friends at Flavourhood, fixing to crack this Saturday night at Urban Stitch Boutique. “It’s going to be multiple forms and ways to interact with creativity,” says Eda. “Like, audio, visual… or nah,” she laughs. To unpack the meanings and makings behind Bass Coat, and their upcoming event, I sat down with Joshua and Eda, who expanded upon their creative instincts, gender politics, and art as a means for social activism.

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HIGHER AND HIGHER

HIGHER AND HIGHER

From hometown heroine to international soul star, Goapele's still expanding her horizons

Boom, boom-clack, boom…clack. It was sometime around ’03 and “Closer” had every car thumping with those drums. My mom would drop me off at school to it and my boyfriend would pick me up with it slapping in the trunk. It felt like “Closer” was on every radio station, from rap radio to quiet storm to Top 40 countdowns, as the Bay watched Goapele rise to stardom off a song that defied genre or target audience. But that’s the Bay, am I right? Only an Oakland native, half-Jewish, half-South African songstress could lace her sultry vibes with slap so hard that it could soundtrack side shows and emotional romantic comedy scenes alike. It was the early 2000’s and Goapele had blessed the Bay.
In the years since, she’s cut her locks, expanded her musical repertoire, toured the nation numerous times, and raised a daughter, all while managing to drop another four albums, including this fall’s Strong as Glass. Goapele’s latest finds her making a few departures from earlier work, with occasional nods to more traditional piano-driven ballads and sleek disco-pop. Still though, this is a Goapele project through and through, textured, immersive R&B with a forward-thinking approach. This month she’ll debut that new material live, kicking off a multi-city tour that starts in NY tonight, stops off at the El Rey in LA, and wraps up with a host of shows at Yoshi’s in Downtown Oakland. But in the meantime, I had the chance to catch up with her about the new album, her relationship with the Bay, and her intentions for creating community around her art.

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THE NOTABLE NINE

THE NOTABLE NINE

Browntourage and Interrupt Magazine put on by highlighting Oakland's creative collectives

 

It’s no secret that young Oakland is crackin right now. From parties to proper swaps, every month seems to be characterized by events that highlight and validate the energy of our community. For those involved in its curation, it’s easy to see who’s who behind the scene, though their names and faces tend to take a backseat to the hype of guest DJs and event hashtags. Recently, Interrupt Magazine reached out to local crew Browntourage to co-curate their September issue, and to help in identifying and appreciating the Town’s new cultural heroes.

Browntourage’s “Notable 9″ article features crews and collectives of young creative folks who are, as they put it, “bringing knowledge, entertainment, and support to local Oakland ’hoods.” The article guides readers through a brief journey of group rosters, aesthetics, and outward efforts, to reveal the heat that’s been cookin up around here.

We at W&B are feeling honored to have made the cut, alongside some of our friends and fam, many of whom you might find right alongside us at functions and doc screenings alike. Among others, the piece features our folks from collectives like Trill Team 6, OnTask Family, Malidoma Collective, and Youthful Kinfolk. We’d like to say thank you to Hawa and Tonia at Browntourage for including us, Interrupt for the opportunity, and all of the crews both mentioned and beyond for the continued inspiration. For a look at some of the innovative faces behind the magic, hit more, and should you see them in the street, show some love. Full article here.

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BEYOND THE MURMUR

BEYOND THE MURMUR

Some options for hopping off the beaten path this weekend, at First Friday and elsewhere

Art Murmur

As the summer comes to an end, in Oakland, you may be tempted to whip out your best Autumn hoodie but don’t you dare put down that paper-bagged tall can. October is shaping up to be beautiful and bustling with events to keep you social and less than sober. Maybe you’ve grown tired of the First Friday followed by the Layover hustle, but fear not, young East Bay! I aim to keep you dipped in both interesting and off-the-wall events this weekend.

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THE BLACK INK BOOK EXCHANGE

Savvy Wood's pop-up library project celebrates black lit on Chicago's South Side

Black Ink Book Exchange

Savannah Wood is a force. She’s a strong-willed, purposeful creative with an infectious smile and wide, excited eyes under rounded, dark-rimmed glasses. We first met through Max in the lead-up to a 2012 art show curated by collective Native Thinghood in LA, when I entered their vegetarian potluck of floor-seated, cross-legged, barefooted 20-somethings laughing through shared realities of artistic successes and woes. After majoring in photography at USC, Ms. Wood has been involved in myriad creative projects, travelling the world and expanding her portfolio from photography to clothing to costume design. Most recently, the Baltimore-bred artist has up and moved Chicago to develop her vision for the Black Ink Book Exchange.

Through a humble Indiegogo campaign and individual book donations from all over the country, Savvy’s dream to create a pop-up library of books written by black authors, and about black culture, has become a reality. As of January the project has even expanded to house creative workshops, classes, meetings, and arts and crafts activities for families, hosted primarily on Chicago’s South Side. The library is based on a barter system–take a book, leave a book–and functions to host opportunities for folks to engage with their own history, with each other, and with the written word. “I am most interested in ‘good’ books,” reads her website, “books that have shaped the way you see yourself and the world, or books that you often recommend to friends.” To learn more about this journey, I hit Savannah up to ask her how the project is going, where it’s headed, and how we can all have a chance to engage with the Black Ink Book Exchange.

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A RADICAL EDUCATION

A RADICAL EDUCATION

Rick Ayers looks back on a career on the front lines of education reform

Rick Ayers
He’s like the coolest person you’ve ever met. Mid-60’s, sleeve tat, just chillin. We meet on the outdoor patio of one of UC Berkeley’s favorite study hubs, littered with international students and finals tension. He sips an espresso and we share a piece of carrot cake, catch up on Berkeley High gossip and update each other about the making-its of Bay kids these days. His effortlessly chill affect makes it easy to forget that we’re decades apart in age, that he’s a local legend himself, an underground political revolutionary, and that in many ways, he can be credited with the student successes we discuss.

Rick Ayers taught at Berkeley High School for 11 years, and in that time, helped guide generations of kids through Communication Arts and Sciences (CAS), the small school within BHS he founded with fellow teachers to promote modes of academia they deemed lacking in the traditional classroom setting. CAS was formed around a vision of combatting this model, taking aim at conventions like test-taking, homework, antiquated curriculums, and arbitrary punishment for seemingly non-negotiable mistakes. Ayers fought for an academic space where students could be recognized and celebrated as individuals, experts, and visionaries through often controversial methods.

Along the way, Rick has never pulled punches in sharing his opinions either, offering harsh and honest critiques of an educational system he sees as fundamentally flawed. It’s been six or seven years since either of us have seen the inside of our own CAS classrooms, but Ayers is still on the front line of radical education reform, and as I learned in our conversation, as candid about his opinions as ever.

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SOFT SHOCK

Melbourne-based illustrator Susanna Rose Sykes makes feelings fun

Susanna Rose Sykes

In the deep, dark depths of the Instagram world, hidden in the cracks between morning Starbucks selfies and gym mirror shots, there exists a contrasting, authentic world of actual art. Though we know all too well by now that the internet is making us both more informed and more isolated (blah blah) it would appear that this paradigm works out well for artists and art fans alike. Today, young, even mildly tech-savvy creatives can enjoy their characteristically emo solitude while employing the good old IG to effortlessly share their work and process with the masses. That’s where, under piles of red-eyed bottle service snapshots, religious memes, and endless ego, I found Susanna Sykes. The 3-by-infinity digital grid revealed a pastel toned world of fruit, tears, and titties – and with just a couple scrolls and double taps, I was hooked.

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THE FREEMAN FILES

THE FREEMAN FILES

Taking our time to contemplate the photographic journey of Jonathon Freeman

Jonathon Freeman

As we’ve discussed before, we are all photographers. Put that trigger finger to the clicker baby and, ba-blam! That’s all you. In taking a picture, we essentially take a moment out of context, from the world we know it to exist in, and create a space for sitting and reflecting on it in hindsight. Maybe that picture is destined to get lost in the shuffle of likes and comments. Maybe it’s developed and hung on a gallery wall. Maybe it sits idly and comfortingly on a nightstand next to our bed. But whatever the case, these photos are captured so we can engage with them. Some of the photography I’ve been engaging with hella much lately can be found in the expansive and effortlessly impressive portfolio of San Francisco photographer Jonathon Freeman.

What attracts me to Freeman’s work, specifically, is his ability to capture intimacy. While for some, intimacy is a concept that evokes considerable anxiety, Freeman’s photographs lend the viewer a comfortable dose with a gentle hand and a skillful eye. I first stumbled on Freeman’s work through his female portraits that I later learned were part of his publication collection The Freeman Files: [Fer-uh-mohnzs] – which is the title of his soon-to-be-published print magazine. The series captures women of the fantasy-girl-next-door variety, accompanied by a similarly dreamy tone. The images are beautiful, whimsical, and effortlessly sexy. “I’ve had a girlfriend throughout my photography career,” he tells me, “and it’s kind of fucked up, but… if she gets mad about my shots, then I know I’m doing something right.”

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