Oakland Artists

Oakland artists take a look into their own back yard

Great art often happens on the edges. Oakland, a city which is focusing more and more on finding its center, would do well to look to its edges. Because on the perimeter of the Fruitvale district, among the gray warehouses criss-crossed with train tracks, in the same places people go to dump their trash and their unwanted pets, something interesting has been happening.

Communities of artists have been living in the warehouses along San Leandro Street for years, working in relative obscurity.

"There's a big hole in arts funding," said Oakland artist Shanna Maurizi. "You have to be established for a couple years to get funding, but you can't get established with-out funding. It's a vicious circle."

Oakland artists often express frustration with the slower pace of support for the arts in Oakland. While Oakland has one of the largest populations of artists per capita in the country, many Oakland artists still have to go to San Francisco to find places to exhibit and sell their art.

"Oakland really needs to start recognizing local artists because they are damn good," says Oakland artist Steven Barich. "We need to look in our own back yard."