Welcome to the 31st Annual Emeryville Art Exhibition Web Site.
Gala Opening Reception: Friday, October 6, 6-9 p.m.
A portion of beverage sales benefits the Emeryville Youth Art Program.
Poetry Afternoon: Sunday, October 15, 2-4 p.m.
with Sarah Kobrinsky, Hugh Behm-Steinberg, Natasha Dennerstein, and Indigo Moor,
Shadi Shamsavari “Chit Chat Project: An Artist's Quest”: Sunday, October 22, 4:00-5:15 p.m.
“I had no idea!” How often have I heard this exclamation during the six years of my tenure as curator for the Emeryville Celebration of the Arts? This was my initial reaction on my first tour of this wonderful east bay enclave and I hear it again each year from juror—arts professionals from the great bay area—as they discover Emeryville and its enormous cache of creative talent.
Although I grew up in San Francisco and went to school in Berkeley, I ignored Emeryville’s existence. One of the Bay Area’s best kept secrets, the town has a written history dating from 1776—but who knew? Before the arrival of the Spaniards in that year, it was a peaceful Ohlone village on the edge of San Francisco Bay tidal flats then rich in clams, mussels and oysters. Many transformations followed the invasion including a wild depression era town known for its brothels, speakeasies and race tracks, followed by a war time boom town that left many huge industrial complexes in its wake.
Some of those structures have vanished, replaced with modern housing and corporate headquarters. Those that remain are rapidly being transformed. Thanks to the cooperation of developers and owners, for thirty-one years the Emeryville Celebration of the Arts has been able to find a home in one of these locations.
As urban renewal proceeds, the opportunities for temporary spaces are vanishing. The need for a permanent home not only for the Celebration but one that would serve the entire community year round for exhibitions, art classes and related events has been clear for many years.
The dream seemed close to becoming reality almost twelve years ago when the city of Emeryville purchased the United Stamping building from Dan Carlevaro. A project began to move forward with engineering plans, architectural designs and use permits. On February 1, 2012, the State of California’s dissolution of Redevelopment Agencies ended access to funding that would have made the project possible. The building still exists. It sits on Hollis Street empty and in dire need of repair. Currently, there is hope for renewed interest from the private (and public?) sector. Advocates are again talking about the possibility of a real, permanent art center for Emeryville.
In the mean time, the yearly search goes on followed by a huge community effort to transform unlikely spaces into galleries worthy of the work of Emeryville artists. This almost magical feat is possible only through the efforts of the steering committee, artists and other community volunteers.
Thirty-one years is a very long life for a small arts organization. Our existence and continued growth is due to the perseverance of administrator Sharon Wilchar and the many community sponsors and volunteers who have stood by her.
Thanks are also due to our jurors for 2017—Shelley Barry and Danielle Fox of SLATE Art, Oakland and Elizabeth Shypertt founder of Velvet da Vinci Gallery, San Francisco—for their patience and careful attention over three long days of studio visits. They also had no idea.
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