The Massive Block Party known as Oakland's art walk

Anyone in Oakland (and most people in San Francisco) will tell you that the Oakland Art Murmur’s First Friday Gallery Walk is a good time. It’s mainly focused on Telegraph Ave between Grand and 27th Streets and draws people who want to peruse the freshly hung galleries and enjoy the block party that spills onto the closed off street. Complete with mobile brass bands, dancing, and food trucks, the street fair atmosphere extinguishes any presumption that this ‘art walk’ may be a snooty, high-brow affair.

Like the name suggests, this event happens on the first Friday of each month and is a hot spot for creativity of all types. Painting, sculpture, music, fashion, and food are all well represented by the galleries, street vendors, and the art walkers themselves wandering from one attraction to the next. It starts around 6pm and as the sun starts to go down more and more people pack Telegraph Ave.

In addition to the galleries and street side entertainment, there is a broad selection of bars on Telegraph for the art walk attendees to visit and imbibe. If you dip into the Telegraph Beer Garden, The Legionnaire Saloon (which has a Metallica pinball machine with a side mounted cup holder) or any of the many bar options on those 5 blocks, expect to get cozy. Libations seem to be as popular with the other art walk patrons as they are with the Modern Industry dudes.

Many of the shops along Telegraph get in on the good times too. One of my favorite spots is Econo Jam Records. This very small room is packed with awesome vinyl, but the selection of punk and metal is the reason to come here. They have albums ranging from expensive originals, to reasonable re-releases, to very affordable used records. A major perk of this place is that all the musical tastes of the MI members are accounted for. This is exemplified by the assortment of records displayed on the wall that range from Death to The Get up Kids. I even found a limited edition purple vinyl copy of Strike Anywhere’s “Chorus of One EP” for $5. Stoked.

Whether people have found a good DJ in one of the bars or just moved on to the rest of their Friday night, the Art walk noticeably clears out by 9:30pm. The event doesn’t go late into the evening and a lot of people obviously just come for the party, but it’s a diverse, energetic group and a great environment to start off your weekend.

The cross section of the Oakland (and the bay area) community that goes to the Art Walk is impressive. You can see all ages, colors, and types of people enjoying their evening out and it’s a great example of the amount of culture Oakland has to offer. These nights make it easy to see why Oakland has been getting so much positive exposure lately, and has even been covered by The New York Times. The Art Murmur, just like Oakland, is diverse, down to earth and a lot of fucking fun.


Cheers, Mike and the MI dudes

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