I took this photo of Holly Schneider at Studio Grand during the First Thursdays event on April 3rd. A week later, she was diagnosed with a rare, very aggressive cancer and three weeks later, at the age of 42, she passed away.
I’d been singing Holly’s praises ever since she burst upon the Grand Avenue scene in September of last year with plans for a non-profit, community art center. Over the ensuing months, I marveled at the diverse programming she’d scheduled and was astounded by the amount of support she’d garnered from the arts community in such a short period.
According to her husband, Jamie Keller, volunteers plan to keep her vision alive and make sure the business continues to grow and provide a space for Bay Area arts communities to interact and influence one another (while) simultaneously enriching the lives of everyone on Grand Avenue.
In addition, Jamie noted that an outdoor memorial this Sunday, June 3rd, will provide a space for all the people who have been touched by Holly to express their grief and gratitude through artistic expression and shared memories. The memorial service will be held at Lakeside Park adjacent to the McElroy Fountain. Details are available at this link.
FIRST THURSDAYS ON GRAND
This month’s edition of the First Thursdays art walk falls on June 5th. Hours are 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. unless otherwise noted.
- Alchemy Bottle Shop will be previewing the artwork of Malena Lopez-Maggi from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. with an artist’s reception the following evening.
- Studio Grand will be exhibiting Rhythm and Image – a series of gorgeous paintings by Susan Matthews that were influenced by her travels in Africa and Cuba. Stick around, if you can, for the Double Percussion Duo concert beginning at 9:30 pm. A formal artist’s reception for Ms. Matthews will be held the following evening.
- Panorama Framing’s show entitled Color and Place featuring the artwork of Judy Levit, Jane Norling and Lorrie Fink continues for a second month. Refreshments will be served.
- Newfangles will be featuring the artwork of Cori Pillows which will be available as prints and greeting cards. From 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., shop owner, Alyce Preston is also offering a 20% discount on all regularly priced merchandise.
- Jaujou Studio will be showcasing paintings by Liza Dodd. A 15% discount on store merchandise is offered from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. during First Thursdays.
- Urban Furniture’s show curated by Valerie Medina and entitled “The Power of Motherhood” has been extended for an additional week. A 15% discount on all merchandise will be offered during the First Thursdays event.
Additional information is available on the First Thursdays on Grand website.
SPLASH PAD PARK
Despite occasional showers, the Earth Day Celebration at Splash Pad Park On April 27 was a huge success. We had over twenty volunteers including a big contingent from Ruth Kahn’s Beatie Street Preschool which provided tons of much-needed youthful energy.
The photo on the right was taken on Earth Day by Eric Hughes, the Chair of the Grand Lake Improvements group. More of his photos are posted on our Splash Pad Facebook page. And yes, we do have a Facebook page. If you haven’t done so already, please give us a big symbolic hug and “like” our page.
We’ve had two work days since the 27th. One on May 4th and again on the 25th. At this point, we have the nucleus of a really good group that’s dubbed itself “Splash Pad’s Grand Crew”. Mary Jo Sutton, our resident Native California plant expert, is the leader. Other regular volunteers include Susan Elliott (who tends the “far east” end of the native bed) plus Victoria Barbero, Diane Hicks, Caroleen Nord, Eric Hughes, Nadine Ong and myself.
More’s the merrier, so please join the ranks of the “Grand Crew” at one of our volunteer work days which are always, the fourth Sunday of the month beginning at 9:00 a.m. with lunch served at Noon. This month, on June 22, we’ll almost certainly finish the middle Dogwood bed which entails weeding and then laying a cardboard weed barrier that’s covered with compost before installing the last of the landscaping. Our $695 grant from Keep Oakland Beautiful has been extended to September allowing us plenty of time to install the decomposed granite walkways adjacent to the seating wall.
Pamela Drake is away from her desk this week. Here’s some of the stories she’d otherwise be reporting:
Last month, Pamela wrote at length about parking in the Trader Joe’s lot and adjacent city-owned parking garage. She noted that imposition of one and two-hour parking limits might help ease the parking crunch. As my photo to the right demonstrates, it’s obviously working even better than anyone might have anticipated.
In addition to the virtually empty upper deck on a Thursday afternoon, I counted about a dozen empty spaces on the lower level as well. Later in the newsletter, I’ll provide more background information about what’s happening with off-street parking city-wide and particularly, how it affects off-street parking in the Grand Lake commercial district.
The new French Bistro, Michel, has done the near-impossible in an age of instantaneous feedback that makes “soft openings” a faded memory. Their reviews thus far have been stellar. Sixty-six percent of Yelpers gave Michel five stars. The remainder, four stars with the exception of one couple who assigned a three after deciding they didn’t want to wait for a table.
One spoonful of the green-garlic cream soup that was on offer during my first visit was enough to convince me of the kitchen’s pedigree. I loved its velvety texture, and the deeply earthy, almost mushroom-like, flavor of the leek-and-green-garlic stock. A dollop of tangy goat cheese; fresh cherries; and a scattering of smoky Serrano ham “chips” completed the complex, well-balanced dish. Slices of rustic bread — which came, quaintly, in a burlap sack — saved me the embarrassment of having to lick the bowl.
The opening of Shakewell – the Jennifer Biesty/Tim Nugent project in the Mezze space has unfortunately been somewhat delayed. A city inspector recently ruled that the existing handicapped access ramp was inadequate. Jackhammers have done the necessary preparation and new concrete should be poured shortly. Meanwhile, the lower exterior is currently wrapped in building paper and wire mesh. I’m assuming that new stucco is in the works. Yesterday, their Facebook page indicated that they were looking for a line cook to start sometime in June. Tish (owner of Scarecrow Popcorn) had heard they were shooting for the end of the month, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
LAKESHORE NEWS IN BRIEF:
- Kwik Way has morphed into the Park Way as evidenced by the change in signage. Owner, Gary Rizzo, says nothing else has changed – same good, quality food at reasonable prices.
- A couple of newsletter readers have expressed concerns over Jim “Old School” Copes. His vehicle was stolen and he’s helping out with his daughter who recently gave birth. Otherwise, he’s fine and should be back in front of Sprint sometime soon.
- Buckingham Wine and Spirits, continues to tempt me with new offerings. The most recent, Dale’s Pale Ale, is produced by Oskar Blues Brewery. Coors – it’s big name, fellow Colorado brewer, pales in comparison.
- I hate to say, “I told you so” – but the electronic cigarette shop at 3411 Lakeshore closed after six months just as I’d predicted. Does anyone have a good working relationship with the owner of a shoe store – either casual or athletic? This is one of the missing retail components that keep popping up in all our neighborhood surveys. If you have a hot prospect, have them give LCB Commercial a call. Same applies for any other neighborhood-serving retail establishments that require minimal space.
As mentioned previously , friends of Holly Schneider are determined to keep Studio Grand thriving. As I saw first hand several weeks ago, they’re doing just that judging by the enthusiastic, standing room only crowd at the May 9th Irene Diaz concert.
In addition to classes and the Susan Matthews’ show, they have a poetry reading and at least nine concerts scheduled between now and the end of June. Please help keep the performing arts and Holly’s dream alive by volunteering and/or attending some of their events. The monthly calendar is HERE! If you’d like more background information on what Holly was trying to accomplish and how, I highly recommend this March 7th article in the East Bay Express.
I just had a long talk with Gerard (Gerry) Mogg, the owner of Modigliani Cafe which just opened a couple of weeks ago and is already eliciting excellent reviews on Yelp. Gerry majored in Food Science; comes from a family of meat packers and was a sausage maker by trade.
He tells me that most of what they’re serving is made in-house. The only exceptions are the bread from Semifreddi; the Black Forest ham and the cheeses. Modigliani grinds their own meat for sausage, meatloaf and meatballs and brines their own chicken and pork. They also make their own sauces and pickle their own veggies.
The item I had on my first visit was a fresh out of the oven sausage roll which was superb. Gerry noted that they’ve since added a veggie roll made with pickled veggies and two cheeses. Several other sandwiches are available as well as salads and other vegetarian options.
Gerry is, however, a man who leads two distinct lives. He doubles as an indie film director, producer and screenwriter and directs and produces for stage productions, as well. His most recent feature film was “Silent Alarm”.
GRAND AVENUE NEWS IN BRIEF:
- Russell Moore at Camino is hosting a dinner with Paula Wolfert on June 26 as a fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Association. Details are HERE!
- Charlie Hallowell is doing much the same at all three of his venues (plus others including Chez Panisse) with a series of Sunday Suppers described in this article on SF Gate.
- Penrose was recently the subject of this review in the Contra Costa Times.
- Boot and Shoe Service and Grand Lake Kitchen were both included in the 7 x 7 SF list of best brunch spots in Oakland.
- If you haven’t already done so, sign up at Alchemy Bottle Shop for email notifications for their classes and special events. At their artist reception for Ashley Martinez, I thoroughly enjoyed a couple of their “smoky whiskey sours” made with sherry and Bittermilk.
- Michael Mischer was recently the subject of a flattering profile in the SF Chronicle entitled “Raising the Chocolate Bar”. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be available online but you can read a nicely framed (by Panorama Framing) copy in Mischer Chocolates while munching on a gelato or a gourmet chocolate bar.
- Trestle Glen resident and Splash Pad Newsletter subscriber, Andy Altman-Ohr celebrated the 15th Anniversary of Bob Jaffe’s Grand Bakery with this article in the WeeklyJ.
- Although I’m not currently in the market for much of anything, I still enjoy my visits to Urban Furniture. Yesterday, I spotted two pieces of antique oak furniture – a six-drawer curved front dresser and an unusually graceful swivel desk chair. $135 for the former and $45 for the latter.
- Ordinaire is now open on Tuesdays and, according to Patrick Cheatham at Panorama Framing, they were awarded the number one spot on San Francisco Magazine’s list of hot Oakland destinations.
GRAND AVENUE — WEST OF 580
This month’s blog provided by LZ, our anonymous Grand Avenue – West of 580 reporter is about Barlago Restaurant which just opened at 550 Grand Avenue. Here’s the link. Enjoy!
Welcome back to Chris Blackburn who has just resumed his duties as the Manager of the Grand Lake Market. Chris has been especially attentive to maintenance issues and has already announced plans to pressure wash and then steam-clean the plaza and the custom-made trash receptacles.
The lack of rain and inclement weather may have put a bit of a damper on the size and quantity of stone fruits available, but judging by the Rainier Cherries that we purchased last weekend from EGB Farms, the quality is superb.
According to Chris, shoppers should be seeing sweet corn at the market this weekend or next.
Please check back later for the farmers market entertainment list for June.
ODDS AND ENDS
The Grand Lake Neighbors group and Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church are co-sponsoring a forum featuring the five announced candidates for Pat Kernighan’s District 2 council seat. It will be held in the church sanctuary beginning at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, June 4th. Questions for the candidates may be submitted in writing the evening of the event or in advance by emailing email@example.com.
Thanks to Rev. Hopkins and Lakeshore Baptist for hosting; to Dean Zumach for taking the organizational lead and to David Flack for agreeing to serve as moderator.
I‘ve already briefly mentioned the parking situation on Lakeshore. Thanks to a presentation by Michael Ford at the last Grand Lake Neighbors meeting and an email from Hoang Banh, I can provide additional background information.
Michael, who is a neighbor on Walavista, has been hired as a consultant by Public Works and assigned to oversee the city’s off-street parking. The plans that he and other city staff assembled have just been approved by the city council which voted on May 20 to hire contractors to manage the lots – providing services including security, garbage removal, graffiti abatement and other services. In addition, the council agreed to fund $2 million in capital improvements beginning with safety issues.
The first of these improvements have already been implemented on Lakeshore by hiring an outside contractor; posting hourly limits and banishing all the cars that had been parking free for the entire day. With the usage data in hand, the contractor is now prepared to offer monthly spaces to up to thirty-five Lakeshore business owners and employees. They’ll also be looking into improvements in lighting, maintenance and overall security.
At the Walker Avenue lot, they’ll be instituting a reduced parking rate – initially, $1.50 per hour, but that price will drop further if the lot isn’t at least 90% occupied. The city is also preparing to add LED lighting that will help improve security. In addition, they’re working with the Walker Avenue block group on plans to thin out or replace vegetation and also install security cameras. As is the case with parking facilities all over the city, they also want to beautify the entrances with murals that help brand the individual neighborhoods.
Much of the focus initially is going to be on the Walker lot. Two changes for the parking lot under the freeway are, however, already in the works. Number one, the hourly charge should drop to $1.50 per hour. In addition, the city has designated additional spaces for monthly parking permits to serve more business owners and their employees. All in all, it’s very positive – but, if you’ve been parking under the freeway and not feeding the meter, don’t. When new management is assigned, chances of getting a ticket will be enhanced. On the other hand, the pay stations are more likely to be better maintained.
Grand Lake resident, Michelle Simon, recently alerted me to a film called “Fed Up” that documents the extent to which we, as Americans, are hooked on sugar which is allegedly more addictive than cocaine. The film is currently playing at Landmark Theaters on Kittredge in Berkeley.
Michelle, who is “a public health lawyer specializing in legal strategies to counter corporate tactics that harm the public health” also provided me with a link to her Eat Drink Politics blog reviewing the film. I’ve yet to see the film but I am now scanning food labels more carefully and am appalled by the prevalence of high fructose corn syrup in the most unexpected places.
For more on the subject, check out this article in the Chronicle entitled the “16 things the food industry doesn’t want you to know about sugar”.
Are you looking for the perfect opportunity to tour some of Oakland’s most attractive destinations accompanied by several thousand scantily clad individuals? If so, by all means, sign up for the Town’s Half Marathon on August 16th. The 13.1 mile course starts at city hall; heads north up Broadway and Piedmont Avenues; through the Temescal District; down Pleasant Valley Road onto Grand Avenue past the Farmers Market.
Following a loop around the lake, it ends at City Hall with a festival that will include craft beer, good food and live music. The event is sponsored by Project Sport, whose President, Ryan Dawkins, has recently purchased a home here in the neighborhood.
The Eighth Annual Oakland Indie Awards are this evening and the list of nominees includes a number of local luminaries including David Sturdevant, Studio Grand, Urban University, Rod Dibble and the Sacred Well which the Grand Avenue West of 580 blog profiled a couple of months back.
- The Eastlake Music Festival was a huge success. Congratulations to everyone who was involved and, particularly, to Steve Ma who couldn’t have been more welcoming. We very much look forward to next year’s event.
- Thanks to long-time supporter Stephen Duffy for posting this Red Oak Realty video that captures the magic that is Lake Merritt and the Grand Lake District.
- The Pacific Boychoir is performing June 1 at St. Augustine Church. This is a wonderful group that I learned about only after they generously donated their CDs to the Splash Pad Silent Auction
- Thanks to Bruce De Benedictis for the reminder about the Oakland Municipal Band concert season that begins at the Lake Merritt bandstand on July 4.
- On June 5, you can support Fairyland (one of Oakland’s most cherished institutions) while simultaneously dressing as a pirate and putting on your swagger at a Night of Villain-thropy.
- At the request of Victoria Barbero (a valued member of Splash Pad’s Grand Crew), we’re gladly publishing this public service announcement in support of our Lakeview Branch Library.
- Sunday, June 1, 3:00 – 7:00 pm: Holly Schneider Memorial at Lakeside Park
- Sunday, June 1, 2:00 pm: Pacific Boychoir Concert at St. Augustine Catholic Church
- Wednesday, June 4, 7:00 pm: District 2 City Council Debate Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church
- Thursday, June 5, 6:00 – 9:00 pm: First Thursdays on Grand Art Walk
- Thursday, June 5, 9:30 – 11:00 pm: Double Percussion Duo Showcase at Studio Grand
- Thursday, June 5, 6:30 – 9:30: A Night of Villain-thropy fundraiser for Fairyland
- Friday, June 6, 6:00 – 9:00 pm: Oakland Art Murmur
- Friday, June 6, 6:00 – 9:00 pm: Artist Reception at Studio Grand
- Saturday, June 7 and 8, 11:00 am – 6:00 pm: East Bay Open Studios Tour
- Saturday, June 14 and 15, 11:00 am – 6:00 pm: East Bay Open Studios Tour
- Thursday, June 26: Fundraising Dinner with Paula Wolfert at Camino
- Friday, July 4: Oakland Municipal Band concert season begins at Lake Merritt Bandstand
- Saturday, August 16: The Town’s Half Marathon
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