A guide to December Oakland Art Murmur

Lu Han

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A: ‘Lucid Dreams’ at Betti Ono Gallery

The most powerful inspiration can come from beyond our conscious and tangible reality. Such a statement aligns with the thrust of Betti Ono Gallery, whose mission statement is “to inspire limitless creativity.” In “Lucid Dreams,” opening for December’s Art Murmur, eight artists meditate on dreams and dream imagery.

For the opening, the artworks will be set behind the sounds of hip-hop chamber orchestra Ensemble Mik Nawooj, who will be performing live at the gallery. JooWan Kim is the pianist and composer for this innovative group. With a flute and deep funk drums, the group’s music is an eclectic fusion of classical music, rap, rock and pop that is surprisingly symphonic.


B: ‘{fahr-muh-kol-uh-jee}’ at FM gallery

Jessica Jenkins’ work indicates a preoccupation with anatomy and medicine’s effects on the body. When I first saw her work at Old Crow Tattoo and Gallery last March, she talked about her disillusionment with society’s reliance on modern medicine to solve every ache and pain. For this month’s First Friday, she will be exploring her criticisms and preoccupations with pharmacology in her solo show at FM gallery. Pharmacology is the branch of biology that deals with the study of drug action and is also the title of her show, spelled phonetically — “{fahr-muh-kol-uh-jee}.” The show is the second part of her first solo exhibition at California College of Arts, where she is finishing off her degree.


C: ‘Immaterial’ at Chandra Cerrito Contemporary

Light is the force that most affects our perception. From the colors that we see to the shapes and the shadows that it creates, light simultaneously permits and distorts how we perceive the world. Both preoccupied with perception, artists Amy M. Ho and Cathy Cunningham-Little use light as their primary medium for the newest show at Chandra Cerrito Contemporary, “Immaterial.”

Ho’s three-dimensional site-specific installations using light and structure allow viewers to inhabit and experience her work, exploring the altered spatial reality she has created. Using light in a completely different way, Cunningham-Little uses glass and stainless steel to create sculptures that cast colored light in dynamic shapes and patterns on the wall behind.

D: ‘Happy Holidays, Oakland!’ on the Great Wall of Oakland

The Great Wall of Oakland has long been one of First Friday’s most exciting destinations.

Located in Uptown Oakland, the Great Wall is a 100-foot-by-100-foot projection installation that has been used for digital art and film from around the world. It was started in 2006 through a collaboration between real estate companies and the city of Oakland, aiming “to enliven the Uptown District with fresh and provocative art and to give talented artists a prominent place to screen their work,” as stated on its website. In honor of the holiday, the December First Friday’s Great Wall will be transformed into “Happy Holidays, Oakland!” with a tree-lighting ceremony and screenings of short holiday films.

E: ‘Apophasis’ and ‘Remediation’ at Swarm Gallery

Situated in the Jack London district, Swarm Gallery has been producing provocative exhibitions that show experimental art and installation pieces in both their gallery and a project space. For its Dec. 1 shows, Taro Hattori will be exhibiting his “Apophasis” in the gallery space, which combines sculptural and photographic works, and James Sansing will be showing a site-specific installation, “Remediation,” in the project space.

Hattori is known for using flimsy, everyday materials like cardboard to create objects that evoke war and power. Portraying invisible power structures, he creates skeleton iterations of guns, airplanes and the dome of the Capitol building. In contrast, Sansing’s piece is created with hearty materials like cement and brick that speak to the relationship between weight, scale, abstraction, artificiality and fragility.

Anna Carey is the lead visual arts critic. Contact Anna at [email protected]