Explore Oakland's artistic spirit in Jingletown
Located southeast of downtown Oakland, Fruitvale and Jingletown shoulder a scenic estuary waterfront. The area is easily accessible by Fruitvale BART Station and are abuzz with emerging artists. More and more converted art spaces, open studios, restaurants and cultural events have created an active artists’ community where murals and mosaics leap off colorful buildings.
“The mix of artists, many of whom have lived and worked here for 35 years, and the influx of younger residents make this an interesting and vibrant area,” Jan Watten told BARTable.
Watten first moved into an Oakland artist loft in Jingletown back in the mid-80s. She was a photographer fresh out of art school and the affordable spot was a fit. In 2012 she transformed that studio with a darkroom into Gray Loft Gallery, which soon became the first Oakland Art Murmur First Friday venue in the neighborhood. She has since witnessed the area’s evolution through myriad lenses — as a longtime resident, an artist and gallery owner.
“Until recently, [Jingletown] has been a very sleepy enclave of artist studios and warehouses,” Watten said. “It has a wonderful walkable energy that makes it a very special and beloved neighborhood.”
What was once strewn with abandoned warehouses and disheveled homes is now bustling. And despite condos rising along with the location’s popularity, Watten remains confident the will of artists and galleries will surmount displacement trends.
“There is a thriving art scene here despite the condos taking over the neighborhood,” she maintained. “In fact, I think we are working harder at promoting and keeping the artistic energy going.”
Watten appreciated the area’s growing credibility and visibility as more spaces in Jingletown and East Oakland becoming members of OAM. “Oakland is already a great city, but the Murmur is helping to bring the diverse communities together through art.”
Experience the fruitful art scene at the following OAM galleries in Fruitvale and Jingletown.
Faultline Artspace is located at 850 42nd Ave. in Oakland, a 7-minute walk from Fruitvale Station. Photo courtesy of Faultline Artspace.
Oakland’s Faultline Artspace is a dynamic and active artist hub housing mixed media delights, murals and a collaborative energy in Fruitvale. Expansive walls of gridded windows let in an abundance of light spotlighting art exhibits that showcase a 600-square-foot gallery alongside 21 individual work studios where traditional formats and outside-the-box materials serves as canvases. Attend an opening in person and shop an array of screen prints online at faultlineartspace.com.
Norton Factory Studios
Norton Factory Studios is located at 3094 E. 10th St. in Oakland, a 6-minute walk from Fruitvale Station. Photo courtesy of Norton Factory Studios.
Just six minutes from Fruitvale Station, Norton Factory Studios houses 24 art spaces with annual open studios and second Friday showings. Peruse the variety of fine art styles from this busy and friendly community of local artists, check out the shared space and bocce ball court, and purchase a piece that moves you enough to add it to your own living space.
Gray Loft Gallery
Gray Loft Gallery is located at 2889 Ford St. (on the third floor) in Oakland, an 18-minute walk from Fruitvale Station. Photo courtesy of Gray Loft Gallery.
Gray Loft Gallery is an East Oakland art scene staple. Photographer Jan Watten is at the helm, guiding the gallery’s lens to focus on Bay Area artists in a spacious, bright and open space. What began as Watten’s personal studio and darkroom has transformed into a forum spotlighting emerging and established artists that continues to attract art lovers to Oakland’s Jingletown neighborhood.
Oakland Art Murmur is a 501(c)3 non-profit that aims to aggregate information, and be a resource for the public and the broader arts community concerning Oakland’s visual arts. For more information, to donate, or to become a member, visit OaklandArtMurmur.org.