Decades ago, Emeryville’s industrial (and toxic) environment attracted impoverished squatters to its abandoned warehouses. Punk bands, metal workers and makers of mudflat sculptures expressed the anarchic vibe of this fringe city at the tracks, nestled between the San Francisco Bay, Berkeley and Oakland. Now booming with upscale lofts, biotech firms and Pixar Animation Studios, Emeryville continues artmaking, with work more suited for the gallery than the swamp.
The 31st Annual Emeryville Arts Exhibition, presented by the City of Emeryville, displays high quality art while remaining inclusive, featuring both professionals and hobbyists. It celebrates an array of media: paintings, jewelry, stonework, live performance. It offers a range of style, and creatively harmonizes the eclecticism within a new donated space each year. Idiosyncratic gems, alongside traditional forms, appear in this neighborhood exhibit, featuring members of the local artist cooperative, Emeryville residents and employees. Several artists show up year after year.
Shadi Shamsavari performed her impressionist, autobiographical life story Chit Chat Project: An Artist’s Quest last Sunday afternoon, a tale of a conservative upbringing in India and its survival. Recorded elements layered with live storytelling invited us into her sensual world. It was a work-in-progress and I wanted her to close the act with a complete song, to bring us deeper in. Foremost a songwriter, her haunting music was delivered in bits, teasing us to want more.
In sum, the Annual Emeryville Arts Exhibition elevates the voices and identity of Emeryville, splaying the colors of this understated community.
Most works are for sale. The Exhibit closes Oct 29. 11am-6pm daily. 1475 66th Street, Emeryville. No charge.
Untitled: Fraternal Twins by Richard Elliot, hand dyed hog gut (sausage casings), 2016
Fli-Back by Jeffrey Hantman, mixed media on wood, 2016