Your guide to March Oakland Art Murmur

March’s OAM calendar brings innovative shows to various Oakland Galleries

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The Free Gallery by Free Utopian Projects at Pro Arts
Imagine your hoarder great aunt’s attic. Now add some color and get rid of the spiderwebs. Next add Christmas-hued plaid suitcases, a sombrero, a cootie-catcher or two, and you almost have “The Free Gallery” now open at Pro Arts. Almost.

The gallery is exactly what it sounds like. Admission, submissions and even taking a piece home for yourself is free of charge. The works aren’t willy-nilly but are displayed in a salon style, carefully arranged to fill the walls from floor to ceiling. The atmosphere surprises in its aesthetic consistency despite the fact that all the objects are found art.

These repurposed objects not only remind us of the joy of objects in the past but also cause us to question the distinction of the artist, consumer, viewer and participant.

‘Absence’ by Cyrus Tilton at Vessel Gallery
The mystery of what could exist but doesn’t can create the strongest type of anxiety. Cyrus Tilton explores the paradox of this situation with his newest work at Vessel Gallery this month.

After a grueling period of work, Tilton found himself in a lull that he was not used to experiencing. His efforts at first to force the same productivity didn’t quite stick. Instead, Tilton finally began to come to peace with this absence, exploring the boundaries of trying too hard and overworking a piece.

The artist himself will lead a tour of the show on Saturday March 9, from 2 to 3:30 p.m.

Maria Kanevskaya at Crown Nine
Maria Kanevskaya’s portraits (often self-portraits) showing at Crown Nine call to mind the confrontational gaze and disturbing reality of Cindy Sherman and the imagination of Grace Coddington. They involve fantastical images, such as the luscious blue hair of one woman as a tumultuous sea bearing a regal ship.

Though whimsical, it is clear that Kanevskaya meticulously mulls over each look of her portraits. She constructs what she calls “dream worlds” out of butterflies, Victorian dress and fairy-tale nature, creating a seamless pictorialism at which one can’t help but marvel. Kanevskaya has even said, “Sometimes I look at my pictures and I can’t believe I created them.”

A.J. Kiyoizumi covers visual art. Contact her at [email protected].