Town Crier: Enjoy Oakland’s best artists at Open Studios


MONTCLARION NEWSPAPER – June 5, 2009

IT’S TIME once again for one of Oakland’s best parties, East Bay Open Studios. I’m reminded of a famous quote about art, which seems fitting: “There is no art without intoxication. Art is the most enrapturing orgy within man’s reach.”

That being said, we could all use a little giddy intoxication these days, couldn’t we? So why not take the party bus between studios this year?

For a $75 donation, the Brake for Art Tour offers a tour of select artists’ studios along with food, wine and conversation with other patrons of the arts. The previews tour starts at 6 p.m. today at Pro Arts’ new gallery at 550 Second St. in Jack London Square. Call 510-763-4361 for more information and reservations.

Open studios run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and June 13 and 14. Visit www.proartsgallery.org for more information.

Animal Tales: Springtime is birthing time in the animal world and there’s been plenty of activity in our “wild kingdom.” Baby jays have been showing up at my feeder with little tufts of blue feathers on their crowns. A new chocolate foal has been born at Redwood Ranch Stables in the Oakland hills. And reader Jane Fuerch has been watching two fawns (Jane and John Doe) nest and nibble on the plants in her yard. Never a dull moment.

E-mail Bag: Lots of response to the hot button issue of teens “hanging out” in

the village. Reader Debbie Richman writes “Criminy! Where are the kids going to go if you start having OPD shoo them away? The only thing that will do is get the kids to think badly of OPD — not something we want to foster as a community!” Danielle Rosenman and Steven Falk would like to see youths set some ground rules for their behavior in town. “Bring the teens more fully into the community rather than excluding them from it,” they suggest.Reader Bennett Hall wonders why Montclair can’t be more like Sonoma, with its vibrant town square. “The village has such potential, yet (is) landlocked with banks and real estate agencies beyond anything rational “…” he writes.

Reader Debby Richman pleads: “Pulleeeeeeeez talk to the kids directly and see how they can be part of the solution rather than just labeling them the problem.” She suggests the teens could be tapped for a well-needed volunteer force to spruce up Montclair Park.

And speaking of Montclair Park, not many know this, but there is actually an after school program in place for teens on Wednesdays (a minimum day for many schools).

Teen Power was started two years ago by mothers Mimi Rohr, Tamara Brame and Deana Rifai. Mark Zinns with the city’s recreation department says more than 100 teens a week participate, claiming “the roving bands of teens in the village have decreased substantially.”

Yet funding is always an issue — especially in Oakland’s current economic state. The Montclair Village Association is looking for solutions.

“I think the issue has become a negative one because there appears to be a few kids who don’t fit the pattern of emerging good citizens,” says director Roger Vickery, acknowledging at least two youth-related crimes in the village this month. If given more support, could a program such as Teen Power help funnel these youths into healthy activities? Zinns says it already has, and he’s hoping more volunteers will get on board. Contact him at 510-482-7812.

Take Five: If you’re looking for good theater this weekend, check out hills mom/actress Gigi Benson in “A Streetcar Named Desire” at Alameda’s Altarena Playhouse. It’s the last weekend for this “stell-ah” performance (remember Marlon Brando’s agonizing screams?) and Benson says it’s been a great, if not exhausting run.

“Quite a bite for my ‘return to the stage,” she shares, adding she tried out for the part of Blanche DuBois on a dare.

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