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I was happy to recommend this show of incredible abstract paintings by Liam Everett at Altman Siegel for Visual Art Source:

This new body of work by Sebastopol, California painter Liam Everett features several large and commanding abstract canvases. It is not surprising to learn that Everett’s primary interest is exploring the very act of painting. This is noticeable in the many textures and uses of the material seen in the works: pooled, scrubbed, patterned, airbrushed and so on. Everett also places tools and other objects he finds in his studio on top of the canvas; the resulting marks are evident. The works are as planned as they are experimentations, with countless moments of happy accidents.

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I loved having the opportunity to write about the opening of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive for art, ltd.:

It’s been a challenging few years in the Bay Area art world. There’s been the shuttering or scattering of galleries from central locations. The temporary closure (due to construction) of two of the area’s museums, including the anchoring SFMOMA. Artists getting priced out of studio space. And so on. That is all making an extreme about face this year, starting out with an incredible January, which was topped off, on the last day of the month, by the reopening of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) in its new, spectacular home. (Earlier in the month the artist house museum of David Ireland, 500 Capp Street, opened, and the San Francisco Arts Commission introduced its new, much improved gallery location). The excitement around BAMPFA’s new space was palpable leading up to and including the opening, which saw lines around the block. BAMPFA director Lawrence Rinder also noted that the institution surpassed its $105 million capital campaign goal and the opening night gala alone raised around $1 million.

Read more . . .

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The new BAMPFA building, which melds the 1930s Art Deco UC Berkeley printing plant with a new construction.

The huge news this week is the opening of the Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive this Sunday in its stunning new location. Designed by internationally recognized architectural firm Diller Scofido + Renfro, the museum occupies what had been the UC Berkeley printing plant integrated with a new structure. The space is refreshingly light-filled and welcoming, and, importantly, shows off the artwork well. The inaugural show, “Architecture of Life” well establishes the museum’s role in being encyclopedic and academic, while also being accessible: the show features over 250 works spanning two thousand years and explores the idea of architecture both as a practice as well as a metaphor. The show succeeds in drawing well-thought and highly enjoyable connections to a broader concept of architecture without being so steeped in academia as to require vast background knowledge. It also incorporates well-known artists with those lesser known or more obscure, showing the wide breadth of the museum’s curatorial reach and expanding the viewers’ breadth of experience, and the quality throughout remains consistently high. This is a truly gorgeous and engaging exhibition, and it shows off well in this beautiful new home.

A couple other shows I’m really enjoying right now . . .

“Dumbballs: David Ireland and His Circle,” at Gallery Anglim Gilbert, San Francisco (through Feb. 27): As mentioned in my last post, there is a David Ireland love-fest going on around the opening of 500 Capp Street (as well there should be): in addition to the opening of the house museum are two exhibitions featuring Ireland’s work. It’s an amazing time to become immersed in the work of this highly influential artist. This show at Anglim Gilbert not only includes some important work by Ireland, but by featuring pieces by conceptual Bay Area peers as well as younger artists he has had an impact on, further establishes him as a central and innovative figure in conceptual art.

Leo Villareal, “spacetime,” at fused space, San Francisco (through March 21): Widely known here for his enthralling Bay Area lights project, Villareal presents a show of smaller-scale works that are at moments dynamically engaging and at other times soothingly meditative. They provide an opportunity to experience a wider offering from this internationally acclaimed light sculpture artist.

Upcoming!
Happening tonight! The inaugural exhibition by CTRL+SHFT, an Oakland-based women’s artist collective, with the group show “Soft Serve.” Opening is from 6 to 10 p.m., and the show runs through February 19. The group was recently a recipient of Southern Exposure‘s Alternative Exposure grant.

Opening January 30, Berkeley: “Here, Part II: What Cannot Be Said,” curated by Natasha Boas, at the Berkeley Art Center. An opening reception will take place Saturday, February 6, 6 to 8 p.m. An talk curator Boas and BAMPFA director Larry Rinder, titled “What Does It Mean to Think about Abstraction?” will take place Wednesday, February 24, at 6 p.m.

Opening February 5, Oakland: Sheila Ghidini, “A Fleeting Grace,” at Chandra Cerrito Contemporary. An opening reception will take place Friday, February 5, 6 to 8 p.m. An artist talk with Ghidini and Randy Colosky, moderated by Kevin B. Chen will take place Thursday, February 25, 6 to 7:30 p.m.

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David Ireland House (interior view); upstairs hallway with “Broom Collection with Boom” (1978–88), “untitled chair,” and “wallpaper patties,” 1978; photo: Henrik Kam, taken November 2015, courtesy 500 Capp Street Foundation

Back from a holiday hiatus (and emerging from a jet lag fog), I am excited to dive into 2016: it’s going to be a thrilling year for the Bay Area art scene. To get started, here are a few shows and openings I’m particularly excited about.

5oo Capp Street, the David Ireland House, San Francisco: Opening Friday, January 15, is this unique artist house/exhibition and performance space. This is the house legendary conceptual artist Ireland called home; having a practice that melded life and art, for Ireland, his home functioned as much as a curated exhibition space as functional living quarters. This current iteration of the location finds it functioning much the same way, but now it’s open to the public. This comes on the heels of eight years of meticulous renovations and conservation, in order to return the home to its original luster, as it was when Ireland lived there. The house will feature changing exhibitions, events, and, beginning in 2017, an artist-in-residence program. This is an excellent opportunity to see the work of this seminal art figure, as well as experience living life as art. There will be several events taking place at the 500 Capp to celebrate the opening.

Additionally, two exhibitions, at SFAI’s Walter and McBean Galleries (Jan. 14 to Mar. 26) and at Anglim Gilbert Gallery (Jan. 20 to Feb. 27), featuring the work of Ireland and its influence will be on show in conjunction with the opening of the Ireland House. The SFAI show will feature important and rarely shown works by Ireland, and the Anglim Gilbert show, titled “Dumbball: David Ireland and his Circle,” will feature works by Ireland as well as by his contemporaries and artists he influenced.

David Maisel, “The Fall,” at Haines Gallery, San Francisco (through Mar. 12): This show features a gorgeous new series of aerial landscape images Maisel shot while in Spain. These meticulously rendered works (while taken in 2013, Maisel wasn’t finished with fine tuning them until about eighteen months later) are a continuation of Maisel’s exploration of land altered by humans; here an abandoned urban development project and farm land. As much as these works serve to document a place in time, they are also a study of interconnected forms and subtle but rich coloration, to the point of being painterly (Maisel cites Richard Diebenkorn as an influence, and it is no stretch to draw such a comparison). An exceptional show.

kurimanzutto travels to Jessica Silverman Gallery, “from here to there,” at Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco (through Mar. 5): This group exhibition features both historic and new work by thirteen artists represented by renown Mexico City–based gallery kurimanzutto, which has been known for its unorthodox practices and “risk-taking” exhibitions as well as its efforts to expand the reach of the contemporary Mexican artists it represents: kurimanzutto has arranged shows in Paris and Warsaw, and now San Francisco. This show features sculpture, textiles, videos, and more; it is a special opportunity to get a taste of Mexico City’s acclaimed art scene.

Other happenings to note this month . . .

FraenkelLAB is opening soon (kind of): January 13 to 17, Fraenkel Gallery’s new project space, close to Zuni Cafe on Market Street, will feature a preview of its “adventurous” programming to come. On show will be Oliver Beer’s Reanimation (Snow White), which will be viewable from the street, dusk to 10 p.m. The gallery’s first exhibition will open April 14; titled “Home Improvements,” the show is being curated by cult film legend, artist, and part-time SF resident John Waters.

The Berkeley Art Museum reopens January 31 at its new location (2155 Center St., at Oxford), designed by New York firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro!

The San Francisco Arts Commission opens its new gallery space at 401 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 125 (on the ground floor of the War Memorial Veterans Building). A celebration will take place opening day, Friday, January 22, from 6 to 9 p.m. (remarks at 7 p.m.); three exhibitions will be on show.

Matthew Day Jackson, "Donner Lake," 2009, laser cut and engraved Formica on wood panel, 120" x 162" x 2"

Matthew Day Jackson, “Donner Lake,” 2009, laser cut and engraved Formica on wood panel, 120″ x 162″ x 2″

I was honored to be able to write for art, ltd. magazine about this epic exhibition at the Nevada Museum of Art, “Tahoe: A Visual History.” This is a history-making show.

“‘Tahoe: A Visual History,’ on view at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno until January 10, 2016, is a seminal exhibition: the first to document the art history of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding area, including the much storied Donner Pass. The exhibition follows in the spirit of documenting the art of other natural, national treasures such as Yosemite, Niagara Falls, and Yellowstone. Curator Ann M. Wolfe, who spent the last five years planning the show, says that she aimed to make it a comprehensive and straightforward survey. “We recognized that this show should lay a foundation that future curators and scholars can work from, to create more thematic exhibitions on the subject,” she notes. “For that reason, it’s primarily laid out chronologically with just a few thematic elements.” Among the contemporary works on display are numerous pieces that were commissioned by the museum specifically for the exhibition. Thus, the show is not just an in-depth look at the art of the area, it enriches this ever-evolving dialogue as well. Read more . . .

"Boy in Suitcase," 2015, HC animation video with sound; 3.33. Courtesy of Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco

“Boy in Suitcase,” 2015, HC animation video with sound; 3.33. Courtesy of Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco

I had the distinct pleasure to review Julio César Morales’ exhibition “Emotional Violence” at Gallery Wendi Norris for Art Practical:

“The title of Julio César Morales’ exhibition of new works at Gallery Wendi Norris notifies the viewer that this work will not be light or, at its essence, easy—and this is the case, though Morales’ difficult subjects are deftly handled, able to be contemplated and digested in all their anguish.

“The work in Emotional Violence continues Morales’ ongoing conceptual exploration of such weighty and all-too-current topics as illegal border crossing, drug smuggling, human trafficking, displaced peoples, and informal economies. As has long been his practice, Morales looks to the media and documentary photography for source material to inspire the ceramic, video, and flat works included in the exhibition.” Read more . . .

 

"The Big Picture Escapes Me," 2015, acrylic on found wood, 64 x 84"

“The Big Picture Escapes Me,” 2015, acrylic on found wood, 64 x 84″

The art I am loving this week.

Chris Johanson, “Equations” at Altman Siegel, San Francisco (through Dec. 19): I have long enjoyed Chris Johanson’s work, and with this show of new work, all paintings on found wood, he delivers again. I had the privilege of writing about his last show at Altman Siegel for Art Practical, and many of those words still apply: “This selection of brightly colored . . . paintings continue in the naïve, raw style that has earned the self-taught Johanson, a former graffiti artist, critical praise and recognition as part of San Francisco’s street-inspired Mission School. Here again, Johanson’s aesthetic is simple, direct, and rough. The . . . paintings are childlike in their hand-hewn simplicity.” Also notable about the work is that, while the aesthetic may be naïvethere is a definite outsider art feelthe subjects and design are complex.

NEAT: New Experiments in Art and Technology” at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco (through Jan. 17): This show explores the Bay Area’s influence on bringing technology and science to the practice of art. It features new or updated work by such notable artists as Jim Campbell (whose work is currently also featured in a show at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art; see below), Paul DeMarinis, Alan Rath, and Paolo Salvagione (Salvagione also worked with CJM Chief Curator Renny Pritikin as a curatorial consultant on the show). This show very much lives up to its name on many levels. The museum also created an excellent digital catalog for the show that features essays, artist interview videos, stills from the show, and more.

Jim Campbell, “New Work & Collaborations with Jane Rosen” at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, San Jose (through Feb. 14, 2016): In this immersive show of new light works by the internationally recognized Bay Area artist Jim Campbell, he explores ideas of blurring and fracturing the image (even into three-dimensional space), as a counterpoint to technology going to higher and higher resolution. He has also worked with glass sculptor Jane Rosen to create meditative, glowing pieces.

Lisa Kokin, “10 Years in the Making: Lisa Kokin at Seager Gray Gallery” at Seager Gray Gallery, Mill Valley (through Dec. 6): This show takes place in the small back area of Seager Gray, but don’t let its size or location fool you: this intimate display is front row incredible. As the title implies, these textile- and book-based pieces range in terms of year created, as do they in execution; Kokin is an artist of many talents (so much so, if not informed otherwise, one could easily think this was a group show). Consistent are they though in excellence: delicate, intricate, fun, beautiful, smart.

Upcoming!

Performance at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, December 3, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.: “New Experiments in Art and Sound.”

Opening November 19 in Oakland: Sanjay Vora, “Lost Love” at Vessel Gallery. An opening reception will take place Thursday, November 19, 6 to 8 p.m. An artist talk will take place December 12 at 2 p.m.

 

Barry McGee, from "China Boo" at Ratio 3, 2015

Barry McGee, 2015

Here is a selection of some of the best exhibitions up now:

Barry McGee, “China Boo” at Ratio 3 (through Dec. 19): This show is epic, and I don’t use that word lightly. McGee is in his finest form, presenting work small and huge, riffing off old favorites, and pushing color and pattern to eye-dizzying glory. There is also a spectacular show within a show, the result of some fortuitous timing and massive collaboration. I’ll say no more, as to not ruin the surprise, aside from, Do. Not. Miss. This. Show.

Sophie Calle, at Fraenkel Gallery (through Dec. 24): Using text, photography, and a project installation, Sophie Calle looks at the topics security, secrets, violence, and suicide. Tonally, work throughout runs the spectrum of white to black, lending a heavy feel to the weighty subjects covered. This show is intense, and packs a thoughtful, resonating punch. It’s the kind of show that follows you out the door.

“Jewel City: Art from San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition” at the de Young (through Jan. 10): From my story for art, ltd. magazine about this massive show highlighting the Panama-Pacific International Exposition’s fine art component: “The show features over 200 works, most of which were shown at PPIE. Of particular note is the massive amount of research that went into creating the exhibition, the fruits of which are laid out in a thorough, copiously illustrated 400-page catalogue. ‘Until now, a clear understanding of the art historical significance of the PPIE has been obscured by its unwieldy scale … as well as the relative dearth of visual evidence of what was exhibited,” [James] Ganz [the show’s curator] notes. “The contemporary catalogues and guidebooks of paintings, sculpture, prints, and photographs were sparsely illustrated, and few gallery interiors were photographed. The curatorial team spent several years scouring archival sources and the primary and secondary literature, as well as reaching out to auction houses, museums, and private collectors with the goal of identifying a critical mass of the works shown in 1915 to arrive at a considered and coherent selection for this restaging.” This is a gorgeous and historically significant exhibition.

Julio César Morales, “Emotional Violence” at Wendi Norris Gallery (through Dec. 19): Julio Cesar Ramirez continues his exploration of border crossing and informal economies, touching on drug trafficking and human trafficking, as well as human rights violations as they pertain to displaced or undocumented peoples (think Syrian refugees), among other weighty subjects. The work is powerful, poignant, and, at times, disturbing, but always eye-opening.

Coming Soon! A selection of upcoming shows and events to watch for:

Opening this Friday in SF: Josh Jefferson, “Head Into the Trees” at Gallery 16 (Nov. 13 to Dec. 31). An opening reception will take place Friday, November 13, 6 to 9 p.m.

Opening December 11 in SF: “Major Work” at Chandran Gallery (Dec. 11 to Jan. 15), a show curated by Andrew Schoultz, includes new, large-scale work by Alicia McCarthy, Aaron Noble, Kelsey Brookes, Revok, James Marshall (Dalek), Sam Friedman, Eric Yahnker, Mark Dean Veca, Saber, Hilary Pecis, Tim Biskup, Eric White, Allison Schulnik, and Andrew Schoultz. An opening reception will take place Friday, December 11, 7 to 9 p.m.

Opening December 10 in SF: William T. Wiley, “& So . . . May Cuss Grate Again?” at Hosfelt Gallery (Dec. 11 to Jan. 30). An opening reception will take place Thursday, December 10, 6 to 8 p.m.

Book launch party November 30 in SF: For This Bridge Will Not Be Gray, illustrations by Tuckers Nichols, text by Dave Eggers. November 30, 6 p.m. at Books, Inc. in Opera Plaza.

Cornelius Völker, "Oysters," oil on canvas, 2004

Cornelius Völker, “Oysters,” oil on canvas, 2004

It’s fall, and that means the art galleries are hanging some of their most stunning shows of the year. This year is no exception; there’s an incredible selection of great shows up right now (and more coming). Be sure not to miss these stellar offerings:

Corneluis Völker at Hosfelt Gallery (through Jan. 2): From my recommendation published in Visual Art Source (http://bit.ly/1MC0JT2): “Cornelius Völker can make any subject enticing, as he demonstrates in this survey of work from the last fifteen years. The German artist explores the traditional genres of still life and portraiture, with a sometimes strange (or perhaps to some, humorous) twist, uniquely luscious brushwork, and lively color.” This is a tremendous show, and the artist’s first ever solo show on the West Coast. It is not to be missed.

Sandow Birk, “Imaginary Monuments” at Catharine Clark Gallery (through Jan. 2): Birk delivers again with this show of new drawings and an etching. These works are part of the ongoing Imaginary Monuments series, which Birk started in 2007. Birk combines recognizable text with imagined and fantastic imagery to create highly charged, often to the point of being humorous, works that resonate on multiple levels. Also to note, Birk’s book American Qur’an is now available for pre-sale; a copy of the book is on display with the show (complete with white gloves so that visitors can safely navigate the pages). The gallery is hosting a book release signing and holiday party November 21.

Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb, “Memory City” at Koch Gallery (through Nov. 14): From my recommendation for Visual Art Source (http://bit.ly/1HpmJZT): “Photographer couple Alex and Rebecca Norris Webb collaborated to create this body of images featuring scenes of and people in Rochester, New York. This work is inspired by the bankruptcy closure of Eastman Kodak in 2012, which was long headquartered in the city, and the impact that shutdown has had on the community. These are everyday scenes, but with such a sublime use of composition and light as to produce rich narratives and strong emotional qualities.” Simply put, these are gorgeous, emotionally rich images.

a2a434ed-6f6c-49b4-9f37-9bfd26581356Catherine Wagner, “Rome Works” at Anglim Gilbert Gallery (through Nov. 21): This new body of color photographs came out of Wagner’s Rome Prize residency at the American Academy in Rome. These bold and beautiful images explore the display, conservation, and handling of Greco-Roman statues and marbles, providing a unique, fresh approach to viewing these treasured classic artworks. There will be a reception Thursday, November 5, 5:30 to 7:30.

Upcoming! There are also several great shows opening this week, many in coordination with First Thursdays in San Francisco and First Fridays in Oakland. Here’s a selection:

Opening Friday in SF: Julian Hoeber, “The Inward Turn” at Jessica Silverman Gallery (Nov. 6 to Dec. 19). The opening reception will take place November 6, 6 to 8 p.m.

Opening Thursday in SF: Julio César Morales, “Emotional Violence” at Wendi Norris Gallery (Nov. 5 to Dec. 19). A discussion between the artist and Lucía Sanromán, director of the visual arts at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, will take place November 5, 6 to 7 p.m.; a reception will follow, 7 to 9 p.m.

Opening Friday in SF: Barry McGee, “China Boo” at Ratio 3 (Nov. 6 to Dec. 19). An opening reception will take place November 6, 6 to 8 p.m.

 

Private collection of Oakland-based Fred Neal

Private collection of Oakland-based Fred Neal

Years before the Globe and Mail declared Oakland the “Brooklyn of the West,” in 2012, citing among other cultural draws its “exuberant art;” or before ArtPlace designated Oakland’s downtown neighborhood as one of America’s top 12 Art Places, earlier this year; or before the New York Times noted that Oakland’s first Friday art event, Art Murmur, was a key component of turning Oakland from “seedy to sizzling” in 2010, then in 2011 mentioned Murmur as a component of Oakland getting “a new ‘there'” and finally, last year, ran a full story about the event titled “A Monthly Night of Art Outgrows its Name”–years before all that, Fred Neal began building an art collection focused primarily on East Bay-based artists (in addition to a few artists from further afield in the Bay Area).

Today Fred Neal, an engineer by profession, holds “somewhere around 300 to 400 or so pieces of art,” as he stated in a recent interview. “I’m not sure though; I’ve never catalogued all of it.” Exact numbers aside, the collection contains more than enough to fill just about every inch of wall space in Neal’s modest Albany home (just north of Berkeley); “I rotate the work,” says Neal, “and I loan art out to family and friends.” In his designated art room, he keeps racks of stored works and a flat file case that is literally bursting with photographs and prints.

Prints, drawings, paintings, photographs, and wall sculpture hang throughout and sculpture sits beside the many pieces of his glass collection (procured from the region’s glassblowers). And Neal’s taste varies widely: there are abstracts and landscapes, colorful pieces and black-and-whites, traditional wood-block prints and images made with a scanner, funny works and serious pieces, Latino protest art, and work by both young up-and-comers and established artists. Among the numerous works hung salon-style in the family room are a bright, minimal abstraction by Mills College MFA graduate Brian Caraway; in a nearby hallway is one of Oakland-based artist Peter Foucault’s abstracts, the workings of a robot; and, in his office, is a large photograph of a decaying building by Katherine Westerhout, who is also based in Oakland.

When asked what guides his purchasing, Neal simply responds, “I buy what I like.” He also mentions that he keeps himself to a strict budget (most of the pieces were bought for under $1,000), and he buys work from young artists, early in their career. It’s a collecting style (and zeal) reminiscent of Herb and Dorothy Vogel.

Fred Neal started collecting art in the late 1970s; the first works he bought were prints by Northern California artists Stan Washburn (who’s now represented by ArtZone 461 in San Francisco) and Henry Evans, who focuses on botanical prints. These first pieces he purchased were from the now defunct Collector’s Gallery, which was in the Oakland Museum of California and run by Mary Ellen Landis, and featured all local artists. “Mary Ellen was the first,” notes Neal, “to show local artists exclusively.”

But it wasn’t until about 10 or 15 years ago that Neal started collecting in earnest; it was at that time that he really started to delve into the Oakland art scene, inspired by Kerri Johnson at, first, the Oakland Art Gallery (OAG), then (the now closed) blankspace (also in Oakland); “It was Kerri who really got me hooked on the Oakland art scene,” says Neal. “I collected heavily from her.” (Johnson, an artist herself, is now co-director of Branch Gallery, Oakland, and a founding partner of the Bay Area Visual Art Network, BayVAN). Another space Neal frequented then and still does to this day is the long-running Pro Arts (which joined forces with OAG in 2009).

“There were,” Neal says, thinking back a decade or so, “many smaller galleries in Oakland that came and went. And then about six years ago, a lot of artists started to migrate to Oakland, especially from San Francisco, and more galleries started to open up.” Neal pursued the growing scene, becoming familiar with and buying from galleries such as Rowan Morrison (which is now defunct), Johansson Projects, Chandra Cerrito Contemporary, Swarm, Krowswork, and artist co-op Mercury 21, and a few years later, Vessel Gallery and Slate Contemporary. “I also want to mention the Compound Gallery, with Mat and Lena Reynoso,” Neal continues. “Three or four years ago, they took a large warehouse building, and they now have a beautiful gallery space and studios for at least a dozen artists; they’re also artists themselves. It’s a great place to see art and meet artists, and it’s just fun to hang out.”

Neal goes on to add, “Oakland also has great Latino art; I collect Jesus Barraza, Favianna Rodriguez, Melanie Cervantes–they all started a print collective here for political and activist art. I first saw this work at Pro Arts and got hooked.”

Within his collection, Neal has work from over 100 artists–including, to mention just a few, Hunter Mack, John Vias, Ann Weber, Misako Inaoka, Deth P. Sun, Jon Carling; “I have a lot of favorites,” says Neal–and a list of artists he wants to collect from, most of whom live nearby. When asked why he sticks close to home, he notes his interest in getting to know the artists; not only are there numerous galleries where he can find work but also loads of studios to visit.

And, finally, when asked, “why Oakland?” Neal explains, “Oakland has a vibe. It’s gritty and down to earth. There’s a lot of diversity and it’s unrestrictive. Oakland is fun and edgy, and these kids are doing different things. People are more adventuresome, taking more risks with their work. And they’re getting it shown here.”

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