Grand Avenue businesses fared quite well in Oakland Magazine‘s annual Best Of the East Bay competition, walking away with nine awards, including two for restaurants on the Adams Point side of the freeway and also counting Zachary’s Pizza, which hasn’t yet opened in the vacant Camino space. Congratulations to all the honorees and thanks also to their loyal clientele who cast the necessary votes.
Enssarro – Best Ethiopian or Eritrean
Grand Lake Kitchen – Best Breakfast/Brunch
Galleria Scola – Best Frame Shop
Grand Lake Ace Hardware – Best Hardware Store
Ikaros – Best Greek Restaurant
Ordinaire – Best Wine Bar
Ruth Stroup – Best Insurance Agent
Walden Pond Books – Best Bookstore
Zachary’s Chicago Pizza – Best Pizza
Walking up Grand Avenue last weekend, I popped in to congratulate Elida Scola for her “Best of…” Award, and she took the opportunity to show me a couple of her most recent assemblages, which she creates in her spare time. By the way, having just celebrated her 30th Anniversary on Grand Avenue, she’s in good company with other long-time Grand Avenue anchors including the Grand Lake Theatre, the Alley and Grand Lake Ace Hardware.
Ordinaire has a special wine tasting event on Saturday, June 8 from 1 – 4 PM, featuring wines produced by Hank Beckmeyer and his wife, from grapes grown on their La Clarine Farm, which sits on 2,600 acres high in the Sierra foothills near Placerville. They practice organic, non-interventionist winemaking following the principles of Japanese natural philosopher Masanobu Fukuoka.
Boot and Shoe Service reports that they are once again open for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 – 3 PM. In addition, they’ve hired a full-time bread baker who previously worked at Tartine. A number of varieties (including red wheat sourdough and seeded country) are available on weekends. Their next event, on July 21, is a fundraiser dinner organized by East Bay Eats, which previously operated as Sunday Suppers. One hundred percent of the proceeds from this event go the East Point Peace Academy.
As we go to press, Studio Grand’s calendar only has three events scheduled for June but they all sound like winners, beginning this Sunday, June 2 with Peruvian music performed by Alejandro and Maria Laura. On the 16th, Bay Area Bridges will be featuring Singer-Songwriter Josh Boronkay. On the 23rd, Oakland’s Bushwick Book Club’s event will feature songs written and performed by Bay Area residents and inspired by James Baldwin’s “Going To Meet The Man.” This event is FREE but tickets from Eventbrite must be ordered in advance from THIS LINK.
Last Saturday’s weekly tasting at Alchemy Bottle Shop turned out to be Chareau, a liqueur that uses Aloe Vera as one of its ingredients. Coincidentally, just a few days before, on a health-oriented whim, I bought a small bottle of Aloe Vera at Trader Joe’s and, after taking a taste, added a shot of Sailor Jerry’s Spiced Rum. I have no doubt that the good folks at Alchemy would be happy to recommend a more appropriate cocktail mixer.
Fresh off the success of a Women’s Month gathering that Alyce on Grand co-sponsored with Urban Furniture and Brother and Sisters Flower Shop, last week they hosted a sold-out, Women’s Comedy Night. The event organizer pocketed all the proceeds while Alyce offered attendees a 20% discount on all merchandise. What they’ve decided to do, at least for the time being, is to continue offering the space for free as a women-focused, community-building incubator. If you’ve got any thoughts along these lines, by all means, stop in and talk shop. If, on the other hand, you’re interested in information about future events, follow the Alyce on Grand Instagram page.
Almond and Oak (the new moniker for the Penrose space) is continuing to flourish under its relatively new ownership. They were graced with a glowing review in the April 12 edition of Oakland Magazine and their Saturday and Sunday brunches have a faithful following, especially on Sundays when diners are treated to live jazz. And, if you’re a jazz fan, you should also check out Lilan Kane, a jazz/blues vocalist who performs every other Tuesday evening. Currently, the staff is pleased by an abundance of fresh, local fruits and veggies – not to mention the first of the season King Salmon shipped fresh from Monterey.
Lakeshore is chock-full of summer activity starting on June 1st with a Shimmy-Pop-A-Thon at Hipline and a sale at Maribel. In addition, there are new classes, a kids’ camp and a new gallery show at Bay-Made; Colonial Donuts celebrates National Donut Day; summer pop-ups at Heart and Dagger; and more!
Hipline is turning its front yard into a dancing block party, on Saturday, June 1st from 10 am – 2 pm, to raise awareness and raise money to support MISSSEY, a non-profit organization dedicated to advocating for female-identified youths who have been exploited by sex trafficking.
Their goal is to raise $25K, which will support youth at MISSSEY in the following ways: • Provide 100 hot meals • Provide 285 bus passes • Provide clean, appropriate clothing for 100 youth • Provide 1 year of diapers for 65 young mothers • Provide hygiene products for 50 youth • Provide 3-5 prevention workshops to 50 youth.
GRAND LAKE FARMERS MARKET
A big welcome to Oakland resident Courtney Fisher (on the far right), who has just signed on as a Market Manager along with Jonathan Ruiz. Market Assistant Ellie Burke (who is laughing hysterically about something I did or said) is on the left.
Two events are scheduled for the market on June 8, beginning at 10 AM with a “Harvest Talk” about CalFresh, California’s name for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Panel members will include two individuals with leadership roles (locally and nationally) in implementing food assistance programs plus a farmer who will explain why CalFresh and March Match incentives are so important. For the record, the Grand Lake Farmers Market is on the top 100 nationwide list of SNAP redeemers.
Also on June 8, AIM’s education team will be “Diggin” at the Market” – teaching visitors about seasonality and the importance of buying local produce with the goal of promoting healthy food choices and creating a sense of connection to the people who grow our food.
On June 22, AIM is requesting volunteers to assist with distribution of a Market Metrics Survey sponsored by a statewide coalition of farmers market managers. Questions will pertain to specific metrics, including the distance you travel to get to the market; whether you do or do not also patronize nearby businesses, etc. If you’re willing to volunteer, please check in at the Information Booth over the next couple of weekends to sign up and get additional information. Also, we urge you to participate in the survey even if you aren’t able to volunteer.
On many occasions, we’ve waxed poetic over the talented local musicians who’ve been performing at the market over the past couple of years – especially the youngsters, and particularly the Crying Uncle Bluegrass Band. I can’t seem to locate the notification that came via email or Facebook, but the two brothers who lead the group have been invited to perform with Marty Stuart at the Grand Ole Opry. Did I mention that the older brother is like fifteen?
And finally, congratulations to our neighborhood Grand Lake Farmers Market – once again selected as the Best Farmers Market in the East Bay in the Oakland Magazine annual poll.
A list of Grand Lake Farmers Market vendors is available at THIS LINK.
SPLASH PAD PARK
The Environmental Design Archives based at UC Berkeley has just announced a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities that will allow them to organize and make accessible the work of urban designer Walter Hood – focused on his uncanny ability to create environments for people to live, work and play through engagement with a community and its history. Based on the Grand Lake community’s experience working with Walter on plans for Splash Pad Park, we offer him our congratulations and heartily concur with the EDA’s decision.
Much of the California Native Garden is still in bloom, including the spectacular Matilija Poppies adjacent to the far end of the seating wall. The weeds are thriving as well, so the Grand Crew volunteer team would be delighted to have some additional help at its next 4th Sunday Work Day, on June 23 from 9 – Noon. Tools and gloves are provided.
FIRST THURSDAYS ON GRAND
This month’s First Thursdays on Grand art walk takes place on June 6th from 6 – 8 PM unless otherwise noted.
Panorama Framing’s current show of photo-realistic oil portraits by Cory Swenson, entitled “Lurid,” has proven quite popular and, according to Patrick, they’ve already sold several of his paintings. New work will be hanging for the June First Thursdays event, and a painting demo and question & answer session is scheduled for Saturday, June 8 from Noon – 4 PM. In addition, Patrick will be hosting a festive Closing Night Reception on June 29 that will include food, drink and music.
510 Brand will be featuring recent works by Natalina Simi, Jeremy Reule, and another guest artist to be announced. FYI: They like to party and there’s always a nice spread with complimentary drinks and snacks. 6 – 9 PM.
Urban Boutique and Furniture will be celebrating Oakland Pride by featuring trans artist, Zufishan Shah. They typically serve wine and small bites.
Alchemy Bottle Shop‘s show of highly detailed artwork by Oakland-based artist Kayleen Dejesus – “Where Do We Go From Here?” – ends late this month. On June 29, Peter and Tova will be hosting an Opening Night Reception for a show of collages by Coco Spencer. Hours are tentatively from 5 – 7 PM.
Jau Jou Studio has a new show of contemporary photographs that look vintage by Kait DeAngelis. The show is entitled, “Bay Area Nostalgia”.
The Libertine is continuing to feature Josh Stevenson’s nudes printed on aluminum that focus on the interplay between light and shadows.
ODDS & ENDS
As we reported last month, the Grand/Walker Mural fundraising campaign reached its goal with room to spare and, as pictured above, muralist Stefen is hard at work. He expects to put the finishing touches on the mural within the next two or three weeks. A ribbon cutting celebration is tentatively scheduled for either June 23rd or 30th, with food and beverages provided by Neecha Thai, Ikaros, and the Farmers Market. Chief organizers Lucy and Randy Glover will confirm the date for the opening on the campaign web page, and I’ll share it on the Splash Pad Facebook page as well.
Speaking of murals, just around the corner adjacent to the Grand Avenue parking lot entrance, the nine paintings by Frank Rowicki that depict neighborhood landmarks are in very poor condition and, unless somebody steps up to the plate, their future was very bleak. Fortunately, Paul Curatolo, Walden Pond Books’ Manager, has taken an active interest and, more importantly, his sister, who is about to move back to Oakland, has tentatively agreed to take on the job. Don’t be surprised if there’s another request for support – not just financially, but also from anyone out there with experience in painting restoration or with the skill set necessary to assist in the work.I’d like to add a personal postscript to the above subject. Shortly after Splash Pad Park opened, Kim and Augusto Cardoso very kindly surprised me with a small watercolor depicting the fountain that was painted by Frank Rowicki. Ten years later, we used it for the postcard that publicized the park’s 10th Anniversary.
And yes, there’s still more mural-oriented news to share. Off and on, there’s been some talk about restoring the Grand Performance mural on Grand under 580 that was completed in 1984 with Daniel Galvez and Keith Sklar as lead artists. Those discussions were about to become more than just idle talk shortly after Daniel completed the McClymonds High School mural that we wrote about in the October 2018 Splash Pad News. Unfortunately or us, a couple of weeks ago, he received a phone call out of the blue from the State of Washington saying they had selected him to design and execute a mural on the wall in their Supreme Court chambers. All kidding aside, this is a huge and much deserved honor and, if we have to wait our turn, we will.
The Electric Vehicle Charging stations in the Lake Park parking lot are installed but not yet activated. EVGo is waiting, not very patiently, for PG&E to install a transformer adjacent to the bike rack to the left of the parking lot entrance. Just down the road, at the corner of Lake Park and Lakeshore, four electronic bike lockers have been installed – each of which holds two bikes. The first five hours are free. Subsequent hours are five cents. Details are on this City of Oakland link. By the way, this project was, as always, deftly managed by Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities Coordinator, Jennifer Stanley – who also, several years ago, installed a bike rack at my request where I really needed it. That is, directly in front of Buckingham Wine and Spirits. If I haven’t publicly thanked Jennifer, now is as good a time as any.
The Splash Pad News has rarely (make that, probably never) publicized an event occurring in the City across the Bay. In this case, there are extenuating circumstances. At the very end of the volunteer work day last Sunday, I noticed and took photographs of a promo for A.C.T.’s production of Eugène Ionesco’s Rhinoceros spray-painted on the pavers in the Splash Pad Plaza. When I got home, I promptly filed a SeeClickFix complaint; posted a slightly irate comment on our Facebook page and then fired off a letter to A.C.T.s marketing department. What I got in response was a very gracious email from Joan Rosenberg, their Director of Marketing and Communications (and an Oakland resident), who correctly assured me that the promo was chalk (not paint) – but who was apologetic nonetheless. Her mail concluded with an offer of two pairs of tickets to the 2 PM matinee performance on Saturday, June 15. We’re selling the tickets at face value ($25 each) and all proceeds will help fund park improvements. If you’re interested, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org specifying if you want one or both pairs. When they’re sold, I’ll update the website.
The East Bay Open Studios tours are scheduled for three consecutive weekends beginning Saturday, June 8. There’s also an Opening Night Celebration/Preview Exhibition tomorrow evening (June 1) from 6 – 9 PM at the Oakland Scottish Rite Temple. There will be, if I remember correctly from last year, food and drinks. If it’s not too late, you may still be able to score an invitation by clicking on THIS LINK. Tell them that Ken sent you!
The hugely successful Autumn Lights Festival returns to the Gardens of Lake Merritt Thursday, October 17, through Saturday, October 19. The organizers are accepting artist submissions with a July 30 deadline. The form is available at THIS LINK. Questions should be addressed to the Secretary of the East Bay Garden Center using THIS EMAIL.
If you’re not already aware of it, the profits from the previous Festivals have already funded a gorgeous wrought-iron gate and new landscaping in front of the Garden Center, as shown in this artist’s rendering. The garden, according to Sarah Van Roo, always needs weeding and they would be delighted to have some assistance any Tuesday from 5:30 – 7:30 PM.
The correct date for the Wear Orange Golden Gate Bridge March to End Gun Violence is Saturday, June 8. More info and a sign-up sheet is available on THIS LINK.
Kudos to the folks who put together all the resources necessary to restore the monster by the lake. Hope to see you at the re-dedication party on Sunday, July 28.
Thanks to Sheila McCormick for alerting us to the Oakland Youth Poet Laureate competition. The finalists will be performing and the winner will be announced on June 7, from 7 – 8:30 PM at the Oakland Museum. Videos of eight of the student poets have already been posted and two more are in the works. Those are available at THIS LINK.
- Hipline’s Shimmy Pop-A-Thon -10 AM
- Open Studios Tour Preview Party – June 1 – Invitation Only!
- First Thursdays on Grand art walk – June 6 beginning at 6 PM
- Wear Orange March to End Gun Violence – June 8 (not the 2nd) Golden Gate Bridge.
- Cory Swenson Painting Demo and Q & A – Saturday, June 8 – Noon – 4 PM at Panorama Framing
- Open Studios Tour Opening Weekend – June 8 – 9
- Grand Lake Neighbors Meeting – Wednesday, June 19, 7 – 8:30 PM, Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church Family Room
- Splash Pad Volunteer Work Party – Sunday, June 23 – 9 – Noon.
- Cory Swenson Closing Night Party – Saturday, June 29 at Panorama Framing.
- Collages by Coco Spencer – Opening Night Reception – Saturday, June 29 at Alchemy Bottle Shop
- Mid-Century Monster Bash at Lake Merritt – Sunday, July 28 at Noon.
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