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“Greetings and Visitations”
Meet the Artists and Creatures Featured in the New Exhibit at Panorama Framing
by Keila Diehl 

Artist Wesley Timms

Artist Peter Odum

This week, artists Wesley Timms and Peter Odum (a.k.a. Monkeynaut) are filling The Gallery@Panorama Framing (3350 Grand Avenue) with robots, aliens, and sea creatures doing odd things in delightfully unexpected situations. Their joint “Greetings and Visitations” exhibit is opening in time for the Grand Lake First Thursdays Art Walk on March 1st. You will be delighted by the skill and humor of these creative locals. A reception with the artists will be held from 6-8 pm on March 1st. They will also be on hand for a mid-show reception on April 5th.  Both featured artists draw inspiration from science fiction and video games.


“Charlie’s Smoke Shop Reborn”
by Kathleen Boergers

Long time residents of the Grand Lake area fondly remember the Grand Lake (a.k.a. Charlie’s) Smoke Shop with its iconic red awning. Located on the corner of Lake Park and Grand Avenues, adjacent to the Grand Lake Theatre,  it was a community touchstone beginning in 1931. Over the course of many years, my dad reliably got his Wall Street Journal there when visiting me from out of town.

After Charlie’s passing, the shop was operated for several years by Peter Brady before eventually closing. At long last, thanks to shop owners and Grand Lake residents Chris Pankow and his wife, Sarah Wilde, the space has new life and a transformation that has to be seen to be believed.




If you’ve been shopping on Lakeshore this past week, or tried in vain to find parking, or simply driven down the street, you’re already aware of the heavy construction that’s underway. Chances are, you also know that, for the last five or six years, folks have been taking hard falls on a daily basis as a result of  uneven sidewalks that create a major tripping hazard. What you probably don’t know is the reason the problem is finally being resolved. The lion’s share of the credit goes to District 2 Councilmember Abel Guillén, who organized a meeting for Lakeshore merchants last year to which the mayor, police chief and a bunch of city staffers were invited. In this context, the most important attendees were Assistant City Administrator Christine Daniels and Traffic Engineer Wlad Wlassowsky. After the meeting had concluded, Abel escorted them on a tour of the avenue pointing out the extent of the problem and the rest, as they say, is history. Also, deserving a share of the credit is Tim Nugent, who graciously offered Shakewell as the meeting place – which he’s done on several other occasions for community-oriented groups.

Peet’s Coffee on Lakeshore is in the unenviable position of having to manage a move into the new space while temporarily closing the old one so it can be updated, while simultaneously continuing to provide good coffee and friendly service with minimal interruptions. It’s a bit like juggling three bowling balls while riding a unicycle, but thus far, they’ve pulled it off with grace. The last step will be to remove the interior wall that separates the two spaces, and I’d think that will be relatively straight-forward.

Gordon Silveria

ABay-Made,  a fabulous show, entitled, “My Eyes Will Follow You,” featuring new works by Gordon Silveria, is already on exhibit. Doors will be open until 8 pm for Grand Avenue First Thursdays and an Artist’s Reception is scheduled for the following evening, March 2 from 5-9 p.m. Light refreshments will be served. For a final encore before closing, look for an artist’s pop-up shop on April 1.

Steve Banker has been a major player on Lakeshore Avenue for a very long time with precious little in the way of recognition. He’s one of  the original founders of the Lakeshore Avenue Business Improvement District (22 years ago) and served as its treasurer for the past eighteen years. Last month, Steve submitted a letter of resignation from that post as part of an effort to cut back on his commitments. At some point in the not too distant future, he also plans on retiring from LCB Associates, the commercial realty firm that he founded in 1979. Steve will continue, however, to have a presence on Lakeshore as he owns the building that houses Lin Jia Asian Kitchen and the Main Squeeze. A decade or so ago, his creative restoration of the exterior was recognized with a Preservation Award from the Oakland Heritage Alliance.

Over this past weekend, I popped into Maribel to inquire about their window display. It turns out that shop owner Anne Hartford has been a long-time admirer and supporter of the Creative Growth Art Center. The owners of “Mercy” (Rachel Cubra and Karen Anderson) on Piedmont Avenue have a comparable window display, and all three have volunteered as stylists for the 8th Annual BEYOND TREND – the Runway Fashion Show and Fundraiser for Creative Growth scheduled for Saturday March 31 at  the Scottish Rite Temple.

The items in Maribel’s window were created by Creative Growth artists: soft sculpture pillows by Latefa Noorzai; a painted leather vest by Lauren Dare; and a colorful skirt by Emily Dunster. The photos above were used for advance publicity and were shot in Maribel (which was used for make-up and staging) and in the Cat House next door, which provided a perfect backdrop for the event’s magic theme.

If you have friends or family who continue to doubt the veracity of climate change, please consider sharing my photo of Silver Moon’s display window. When rain gear is discounted 40% in February, you know we’re all in deep trouble. By the way, our compliments to owner Dima Hart for her display windows – consistently the best in the neighborhood.

Noah’s has been closed for the past couple of weeks in order to accommodate a major remodel. They now have counter seating on one side and a comfortable-looking banquette on the other – plus all new chairs and tables inside and out. I talked to the general manager Wednesday afternoon and he said that, if everything goes according to schedule, they should re-open on Sunday. He also waxed ecstatic over the addition of a tea bar.

As I walked through the city parking garage adjacent to Trader Joe’s, I came across a maintenance employee painting the rear stairwell. The bad news is that it’s the most garish yellow imaginable. The good news is it’s the perfect solution for a garage that’s dreary and poorly lit. Am hoping for more of the same.


As reported by Kathleen Boergers, Wilde Brothers Coffee is finally open, and I’m predicting that we’ll be welcoming another new business sometime soon in the vacant Grand Bakery space. The photo to the right was taken five weeks ago, and it shows an interior that has new plaster on the walls and ceilings and far more space than one would have imagined.  There’s been no announcement as to a future tenant, but Zack (who owns Ikaros Greek Restaurant next door) told me that he’d heard that it was going to be a clothing shop. That would be a huge plus for Grand specifically and for the neighborhood as a whole, since it would complement all the existing clothing shops (Maribel, Sole Space, Urban Boutique, Dr. J’s Closet, Alyce on Grand and Knimble) and help make the Grand Lake District that much more attractive as a shopping destination.

Studio Grand is one of five cultural organizations that are sharing in a $100,000 grant from the Akonadi Foundation, which seeks to advance racial justice through the arts. The award cited their ongoing record of providing a “multi-use space that supports local families, youth, and emerging and established artists by hosting a mix of music, performance, education, visual art classes and events” focused on “historically marginalized communities including people of color, immigrant, and LGBTQAA communities”.

This Sunday’s concert (March 4) at Studio Grand will offer a particularly wonderful mix of music from “the most intriguing corners and cafés of France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Croatia, Albania, Romania, Macedonia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Russia, Mexico, Canada, Ohio and Scotland” plus some original compositions from California.  This will be Beaucoup Chapeaux‘s second appearance at Studio Grand. I had the pleasure of hearing them just over a year ago, and I promise you won’t be disappointed if you attend. They’re absolutely fabulous!

McMullen – the designer clothing shop next to Ace Hardware just celebrated its 10th Anniversary in November. Judging by their website’s “Press Page,” they’ve been garnering all kinds of recognition from the media. Forbes Magazine wrote:

“It’s perhaps an unlikely spot to find coveted luxury fashion brands like CarvenEdunRyan Roche, and Tibi. But there it’s been, thriving and serving the San Francisco Bay Area’s fashion-focused population since McMullen opened the shop’s doors in 2007.

And another excerpt, this one from SFLuxe about Sherri McMullen’s embrace of Nigerian designer, Maki Oh:

“Widely respected in the retail world, it’s the latest instance of her scouting out the newer, under-the-radar talents that today’s most fashionable shoppers get excited about. Elegant, gracious, and whip-smart though with a warm, caring quality, one suspects she enjoys nurturing young designers, and does what she can to see them thrive.”

Speaking of anniversaries, Aisle 5 just celebrated its First with a big celebration that featured tastings from five local breweries. That occasion provided the perfect opportunity for me to talk to owner Michael Graves about their future plans. As you may have already observed, they have an application notice from the Alcohol Beverage Control District posted in the front window. The Type-23 permit will allow them to brew beer on the premises.

Michael explained that, with limited available space, they plan to test beer recipes on a very small scale on-site.  Once they’ve hit on a good brew, they’ll contract out production. Initially, it will be available for Aisle 5 customers only, but they aspire to eventually distribute to other pubs. Although the Type 23 permit would allow them to sell cans and bottles from other breweries, Michael says they’re not inclined to do so, since there are multiple retail outlets within a very short distance. They will, however, eventually have growlers available for Aisle 5 beers.

Up the street, as Camino is about to celebrate their Tenth Anniversary, I’m proposing a toast to Russell and Allison for bringing the gourmet revolution to the Grand Lake District AND a tip of the hat to Mary Ellen Navas, who reached out to the owner of the then-vacant property and suggested that what we needed was a high quality restaurant.

La Parisienne has a new moniker but the same scrumptious baked goods. They’re now Fog City Bakehouse.

Also celebrating an anniversary, it’s Panorama Framing’s Fifth on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day. By the way, on March 4, Panorama is hosting a fundraiser for “Initiate Justice” that’s being organized by “Stand Up For Racial Justice, Bay Area.” Details are below in the Happenings Department.

I fear I may be accused of stereotyping but apparently the tenants at 3824 Grand (Bay Zen Center and Crimson Gate Meditation)  are so laid-back, I failed to notice their arrival until this past week. I have no idea how long they’ve been there as no one answered the doorbell – nor did I get a response to my email. But honestly, I don’t care, since the Arts and Crafts bungalow they occupy has never looked better.

Kevin Numoto

The notice last month of Kevin Numoto’s passing generated a number of heart-felt messages including two from Stan Lee and Heather Holmes asking Ace to consider some kind of living memorial.

As it turns out, Kevin’s many friends at Ace had already determined to do just that. Eric Dam told me that Kevin was more like a brother than a co-worker. He also said that a tree has been planted in a friend’s back yard and a plaque is about to be mounted at the base of a maple tree adjacent to the nursery’s parking lot. Some of Kevin’s ashes have been scattered amongst the redwoods in the Oakland Hills, while the rest is headed to his all-time favorite destination – Charles Young Beach in Maui.

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I‘m convinced that, as a result of climate change, farming is becoming ever more a gamble. It’s a bit like playing the slots in Reno – but with calluses and dirt under your fingernails. The above photo was taken last year by Jay Gascon (from Gascon Farms) when California was blessed with unusually heavy rain totals. This year, the big concern was over the apparent return of drought conditions – now complicated by a deep freeze and late rains that are threatening tree crops already in bloom. These perilous conditions were just spelled out in detail in this excerpt copied from the New York Times “California Today” feature.


I hope they don’t take offense, but I’m dubbing the group pictured above, “The Splash Pad Rat Pack.” The photo was taken this past Thursday just after completing a tour of the park during which Mary Jo and I pointed out all the areas that were infested with rats. The gentleman on the far right is Dameion Thomas who works in the Public Works Department as a custodian supervisor. In the middle is our California Native Garden “Plant Whisperer,” Mary Jo Sutton.  On the far left is Zach Kegle, who is employed by Pestec, an Integrated Pest Management Provider. What that means, in laymen’s terms, is that Zach won’t be using any toxics in keeping with the city’s policy that bans the use of pesticides and herbicides in city parks. We’re very grateful to the city for taking on this commitment with a special tip of the hat to facilities coordinator Stephen Curiel.

The Girl Scouts from Crocker Highlands Elementary, who volunteered (along with parents) at our 4th Sunday work day this past weekend were exceptionally hard-working and, if merit badges are at stake, they certainly are deserving.

The next work day is Sunday, March 25 from 9 – 12. If you’re interested, please email Mary Jo at mjmatrix2@gmail.com. Also, please watch for a special announcement about our annual Earth Day celebration. We’re hoping that we have sufficient resources to belatedly install decomposed granite beds in areas that we excavated more than a year ago.


Do yourself a favor and click on the link for the Grand Avenue First Thursdays page which includes all the details for the eight participating galleries. This is the most colorful and whimsical collection of artwork that we’ve seen in a very long time. I promise you’ll see some great art; talk to some very creative artists; and have lots of fun – particularly if you include a stop at Pure 510 which has the most artwork, the most artists, and the biggest and best spread including liquid refreshments.  


How about showing a little love for all the local businesses here in our Grand Lake neighborhood that provide fine goods and dedicated services? You can easily do so by casting your ballot no later than March 10 in Oakland Magazine‘s annual  “Best of Oakland and the East Bay” poll. There’s no shortage of neighborhood nominees – far too many to single out – but I will note that Shakewell is a finalist in half a dozen categories, and when it comes to frame shops, we have to choose between two neighborhood favorites – Panorama and Galleria Scola.

Speaking of Oakland Magazine, its February issue has an article about the Rotary Nature Center in Lakeside Park – focusing on its downfall and current status. If you’re interested in this subject, you should also read the blog that C. J. Hirschfield published in late January entitled, “A Kid’s Paradise.” It has a broader focus that includes Fairyland and the Jr. Center of Arts and Sciences. C. J. notes that these two venues have recently created a strategic partnership, and she’s hoping that the Rotary Center can be re-invented and do the same. She also noted that a community meeting to discuss the future of the Rotary Center was scheduled for late January. A follow-up public meeting is now scheduled for March 17 at the Sailboat House.

In response to Sheila McCormick’s article about the East Bay Children’s Book Project in last month’s “News,” Ruth Stroup Insurance and Dress Best for Less have both agreed to make room for a stand where you can drop off book donations. Before doing so, please read the donation guidelines on the EBCB website.


The  Oakland Museum White Elephant Sale is an annual extravaganza that returns this weekend. Last year, it grossed over $2 million – the profits from which help fund special programming for the museum. Admission to the sale is free.

This Sunday, Panorama Framing and SURJ (Standing Up for Racial Justice) Bay Area are jointly sponsoring a fundraising party for “Initiate Justice” – the group that’s leading the campaign for passage of  “The Voting Restoration and Democracy Act of 2018” that would remove the restrictions preventing people in prison or on parole in California from voting. The party will include homemade appetizers, beverages, and a silent auction of artwork by incarcerated artists and others. Space is limited, so please RSVP.

We don’t typically write about happenings in Piedmont or church rummage sales in general,  but we’ll make an exception for the annual Treasures Sale at Piedmont Community Church on March 10 and 11, since the proceeds will be used to fund a busload of teens and adults who build houses in Tijuana. This year, I’m told, their goal is to build fourteen houses. I don’t know whether or not it predates the museum’s White Elephant Sale, but old friend and newsletter subscriber, Susan Elliott Cassidy, tells me that her son, now in his mid-forties, participated as a teen.

Women in Magic” is a panel discussion with performances featuring award-winning bay area masters of legerdemain –  Heather RogersMeriam Al SultanPaula RamseyCynthia Yee, and special guest Carisa Hendrix from Calgary, Canada – moderated by Dagmar Theison. Presented by the Oakland Magic Circle in collaboration with AAUW​. Date is Tuesday,  March 6 from 7 – 9 pm. All ages are invited. Free Admission; Reservations suggested. Location: Bjornson Hall, 2258 MacArthur Boulevard.