Art & Culture

Private School Confidential

Considerations for parents and pupils Let’s say a parent is seriously considering enrolling their child, or children, in a private school in the East Bay for a vast number of reasons. The initial decision might have been easy—said parent has a high, cushy income, knows firsthand about a terrific school and deeply distrusts public education or at least has dealt with any moral hang-ups or doubts held about not supporting local public schools by placing their child in their system. Or, for some parents or caretakers the choice of private education over public education is simply familiar—they and everyone in their family dating back to cave-dwelling times attended private schools—or they hold belief in a religion or have a desire for language or a specific cultural immersion that dictates pr...

Imagination on Fire

The Bay Area’s preeminent industrial arts organization A lifetime ago, when I was young and living in downtown Berkeley, I became aware of an interesting new metal-arts school in the warehouse district on the west end of town. I checked it out on several occasions, attending an open house and some wildly creative parties replete with fire dancers, metal pours, live music, sculpture gardens, artists and crowds of cool people. That new establishment called itself the Crucible, and it was a bright light in the local art scene. It comes as no surprise to me that during the 20-plus years since it opened, it has established itself as a nationally recognized, preeminent Bay Area arts institution. Now long-located in a massive, 56,000-square-foot warehouse in West Oakland, just a block from the We...

East Bay Diva Debuts

thuy rhymes with R&B Last November, fans from the Bay Area and beyond milled around the Brick & Mortar Music Hall, waiting for a glimpse of homegrown rising star thuy—pronounced “twee” and stylized in lowercase. Awkward and enthusiastic, as befitting a pandemic-wary crowd, many were at their first show in nearly two years, noticeably unsure when they would be able to attend a show again with Omicron just hitting the news. Determined, these fans came out for this R&B artist who came up in the East Bay. They were rewarded, as a bombastic intro from the host brought thuy hopping to the stage to the high-pitched cheers of young fans. Dim the house lights, cue the bassline, raise the spot and shine it on a new star. “It was an incredible moment, to be back in the Bay Area for my fir...

The Art of Curation

BAMPFA’s new Chief Curator Christina Yang Anchored for a mere 18 days in her position as the newly-appointed chief curator at UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Christina Yang offers weighty resistance. During a lively, 50-minute phone interview in early December 2021, I try to budge her off the shelf of “that’s to be determined in the months to come” and “I just landed here” protests. Consistently, politely, firmly—and alway presented with solid rationale—Yang refuses to fling projections about exhibits. She declines my invitations to predict or prognosticate about specific directions she intends to pursue while leading the staff, campus faculty and students, visitors and collaborative partner organizations in the Bay Area and nationwide into and through a period most expert...

Teachable Moment

Courtney E. Martin’s ‘Learning in Public’ Reading Courtney E. Martin’s new book, Learning in Public: Lessons for a Racially Divided America from My Daughter’s School (Little, Brown and Company) is a lot like sticking one’s hand into a potted rose bush to test the moisture of the soil. The Oakland-based feminist, author, speaker and activist chronicles her story, as a new mother, of choosing to enroll her first child in Emerson Elementary, a predominantly Black public school in Oakland. The author, her husband and their two daughters are white. Irrespective of whether or not a person is a parent or caretaker of a child, almost every reader “reaching in” to Martin’s prickly experience while confronting her white bias is likely to experience bloody wounds and yes, find that the dirt/bias embe...

¡Sí, Ella Puede!

West Edge Opera explores the life of Dolores Huerta Dolores Huerta’s life could certainly be described as “operatic.” At age 91, the co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America is still an activist, still fighting for just representation of Latinos and all women, and fighting against discrimination and exploitation.  Huerta’s story, and in particular, the 24 hours following the assassination of Bobby Kennedy in Los Angeles, are now the fabric of Dolores, an opera commissioned by East Bay company West Edge Opera, after it became the winner of WEO’s “Aperture” residency program for composers and librettists last year. Dolores Fernandez was born in Dawson, New Mexico, to a farmworker father who eventually became a state legislator. Her parents divorced when she was three years old, ...

Run, Play and Enjoy The Town

Has your inner runner been restless recently? Or maybe your 2022 resolution is to discover that runner for the first time? Then the 13th-annual Oakland Running Festival is for you—and for dedicated marathoners, half-marathoners, 5- and 10-K lovers, little kids—in fact, everybody. March 20, 2022 will be here before you know it, so now’s the time to get the running shoes out of the closet and sign up for one of the many races and events the festival is sponsoring this year. As always, you’ll be able to crown your achievement with festival swag. Race Director Lena Zentgraf noted that this year’s medals feature a depiction of a mural painted at 400 Franklin Street in downtown Oakland by Trust Your Struggle, an artist collective of visual artists, educators, and cultural workers dedicated to so...

Standard & Strange

A tale of timeless fashion My introduction to Standard & Strange began several years ago while living in Santa Fe. I worked for Iconik Coffee Roasters at the time—a must-visit to anyone passing through le Fe—and we had a location nestled in Collected Works Bookstore just off the plaza. Also a must visit! Really what I’m saying is drop everything and go to Santa Fe immediately. Every day, without fail, a group of devastatingly well-dressed people would come in for an espresso, or an Americano, until I finally had to ask who left the faucet on. Thus my introduction to a world of thoughtfully curated, classic, exceedingly drippy apparel, sourced by a company whose motto is “own fewer, better things.” I spent a long time with one of my favorite Standard & Strange employees, a pink-hair...

The Taylor Jay Way

Style meets comfort Taylor Jay, in Oakland, is the clothing line that many of us didn’t know we needed pre-pandemic, and post-pandemic we can’t get enough of. And by that I don’t mean sweats and a baggy sweatshirt—although no shade to that uniform, because the main thing is that we each feel authentic and comfortable—I mean top-of-the-line, seamlessly elegant fashion wear that feels as good as it looks. Designer Taylor Jay designs with the woman’s body specifically in mind, knowing that we all move, feel and express differently, and that we need clothing that will support us in our goals, challenges and daily lives without ever compromising quality or style. The concept is known as “elevated comfort”—fashion that offers a higher level of comfort, flexibility and versatility. And I know tha...

The Artisanal Eye

Designer Erica Tanov’s aesthetic curation Those whose fashion passion slants towards an attraction—OK, let’s say an addiction—to serene and sublimely high-end women’s wear and meticulously curated home goods made by artisans worldwide, should be cautious when exposing themselves to designer Erica Tanov. The California native studied at New York’s Parsons School of Design and, after working for designer Rebecca Moses, ventured out on her own in 1990. Beginning with seamed slips and chemises made with fine fabrics that gained signature style in holistic, organic designs in part inspired by Tanov’s attraction—say again, addiction—to vintage clothing and antique buttons, she returned to the Bay Area after nine years on the East Coast. Opening her first shop in Berkeley in 1994, originally loca...

Leading With Lifestyle

Ayesha Curry’s Sweet July At Sweet July, fashion and design are represented by far more than clothing and home goods. The new one-stop retail shop and café, opened in downtown Oakland in January 2021 by restaurateur and best-selling cookbook author Ayesha Curry, houses a lifestyle. Within the store’s luminous space, the tale of a beautiful life lived in graceful and inclusive harmony in which peace, fellowship and kinship prevail is narrated in part with carefully curated products delivered largely by Black-owned businesses as well as products created by Bay Area-based makers, mostly women. The “story” of a well-designed, fashionable life is staged in the store’s quietly sophisticated brick-and-mortar interior setting designed by Curry and Christine Lin of Bay Area design firm Form +...

Hoot Couture

Rachel Konte’s OwlNWood In the midst of the 2007 recession, Danish-born designer Rachel Konte stepped away from a 15-plus-year career in corporate fashion and her then-current high-level position as design director at Levi Strauss & Co. in San Francisco to consider future options. “My whole career had been exciting and exhausting, so finding myself thinking of what to do next and founding OwlNWood and then Oakollective, a popup fashion shop I started with a friend, was me dabbling,” Konte says. In 2021, Konte’s “dabbling” led not only to the Oakland resident becoming the founder/owner of the design and consulting studio OwlNWood and co-founder/operator of Oakollective—the shop is now inactive—but also to becoming chief of brand for Red Bay, the roaster and cafe her husband, Keba Konte,...

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