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Oakland From Home
Jingletown Art & Art Galleries
You’ve just arrived in the Oakland neighborhood of Jingletown. While you may not experience the sounds of jingle bells, I can promise you that you’re in for a dose of rich Oakland history.
The Jingletown story began around 1850 with the area called 'Fruit Vale.' The name Jingletown has two historical references. Approximately 150 years ago, the neighborhood primarily consisted of dairy farms. It’s said that the farmers carried bells and would ring, or “jingle,” them to bring the cows in – thus receiving the name Jingletown. At the turn-of-the-century, neighborhoods in Jingletown had a strong Portuguese presence. These workers, who didn't trust the banks in those days, would carry their money in their pockets, which would bring about a jingle sound. Not only did this signify that they were employed, the jingling was a sign of prosperity.
Today, the neighborhood is a prolific hub for sculptors, painters, photographers, musicians, and visual and mixed media artists. Many notable artists began their careers in Jingletown and still reside among its many converted warehouses and live/work lofts.
In 2019, a special art walk and block party, hosted by Oakland Art Murmur, happened in Jingletown. The various murals, galleries, and studios are listed below, and also added to the tour is a new mural by Dragon School 99.
2889 Ford St, Third Floor, Oakland, CA 94601
Founded by Jan Watten, Gray Loft Gallery opened in 2012 at 2889 Ford St., and was Oakland’s first legal artist live/work space built by artists for artists. A talented photographer, Watten curates five to six shows a year, showing sculptures, paintings, photography, and abstract works. The mission of the gallery is to promote artists in a non-traditional gallery model. In this case, Gray Loft is strategically positioned on the third floor of an old warehouse. The space itself is large, brightly lit, and features more than 1,000 square feet of wall space filled with various artistic styles from emerging and established artists.
The gallery strives to connect artists and the community in an atmosphere that inspires creativity and reflection. Though Gray Loft Gallery is currently closed to the public due to the pandemic, they are offering online shows.
Also housed at 2889 Ford Street are a number of renowned artists, including Tracey Snelling, Ruth Boerefijn, and Tom White.
2. Phoenix Commons Under the Sea Mural
End of 29th Ave, next to Park St. Bridge, Oakland, CA 94601
The Phoenix Commons Under the Sea Mural was led by long-time Jingletown residents, Jill McLennan and Cynthia Elliott in August 2019. In partnership with the Phoenix Commons Art Club, Friends of Sausal Creek, and over 20 neighborhood volunteers, they painted a 20 ft. ocean mural around two storm drains near the Park Street Bridge.
The main purpose of this mural and the three others of the Storm Drain Mural Project is to educate the neighborhood on the importance of “keeping the storm drains clean to prevent flooding and reduce pollution in the estuary and bay.” The mural features some of our favorite ocean friends including a sea turtle, some starfish, and an octopus!
3. Community Quilt Mural
400 Peterson St. at corner of Ford St., Oakland, CA 94601
Community Quilt is another mural that was created as part of the Storm Drain Mural Project. This piece was designed and led by Jill McLennan, with collaboration from a local senior quilt maker and neighborhood volunteers on the Jingletown Martin Luther King Jr. service day in January 2019. The piece was repainted in 2020 after the street was repaved. This mural, featuring vibrant color blocking of red, green, blue, and yellow was painted to call attention to storm drains to keep the nearby estuary clean while bringing beauty to the neighborhood for its residents.
4. Oakland Museum Women’s Board
333 Lancaster St, Oakland, CA 94601
In addition to an iguana and a raccoon, you’ll notice a mural of a white elephant painted on the side of this seemingly vacant building. What you’ve just stumbled upon is the site of the famed Oakland Museum of California White Elephant Sale. Founded in 1955, the Oakland Museum Women’s Board (OMWB) operates with the sole purpose to provide services and funds to the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA). This mural is an ode to their annual White Elephant sale, the museum’s only fundraising activity in which the OMWB has contributed over $18 million in support of the museum’s programs, exhibits, and more.
The mural shows a theme of nature blending into the urban landscape, featuring several prominent characters, including a white elephant with its trunk raised high. Keep an eye out for the other iconic Bay Area animals and plants also shown here.
5. Estuary Fish Mural with Youth
Derby St., between Glascock St. and the estuary
The Estuary Fish Mural Project was designed and led by Jill McLennan and painted by 50 eighth-graders from Lazear Charter Academy. This project, also in partnership with JABC and The Friends of Sausal Creek (FOSC), was the first part of the Storm Drain Mural Project funded by Keep Oakland Beautiful and the City of Oakland’s Fruitvale Resilient Program to beautify sewer drains in the neighborhood and encourage residents and visitors to help keep the estuary clean.
6. Derby Avenue Screening
401 Derby Avenue, Oakland, CA 94601
Also executed by Jill McLennan, this public art piece was completed in 2017. McLennan designed 12 panels depicting birds flying over the Oakland and Jingletown skyline, a perfect ode to celebrate the balance that exists between Jingletown residents, businesses, and nature.
The idea of the birds is based on direct observation of the activities of birds living here, migrating through and filling this neighborhood with activity and song. The birds may also be a metaphor for the people, coming and going, roosting and nesting, working independently and as a community to create a place to call home. Can you spot the cat? Learn more about McLennan.
7. Jingletown Art Studios
3001 Chapman Street, Oakland, CA 94601
The former home of the Institute for Mosaic Art, Jingletown Art Studios (JAS) is an artist co-op workspace open to artists 24/7/365. Artists have the option to rent the open studio workspace for a monthly fee, as well as rent a private room.
You will easily be able to identify the space as it’s decorated with mosaics, inside and out. The building and surrounding neighborhood features mosaics from Laurel True, Isaiah Zagar, and community artists, as well as students and renowned instructors from around the globe.
You should also explore the Enchanted Garden, an outdoor 4500 sq/ft lush garden featuring many wonderful wall mosaics and sculptures.
8. Factory 44 West
555 Derby Ave #44, Oakland, CA 94601
Be sure to stop by Factory 44 West to meet the owners, Genevieve and Ceppie. As artists and craftsmen, you’re in for a memorable time in their spacious and interactive showroom. You may even get to see Ceppie hand carve frames with 22 karat gold, using a traditional water gilding process.
Also inside the studio, you’ll find reclaimed wood frames and furniture made from the same salvaged wood from the former Johansen Iron Works Building, which is currently where 401 Derby studio resides. In addition to their own handcrafted moldings, they carry three vendors of pre-finished moldings for visitors to choose from. Visit Factory West for custom framing.
Photo captured by Alistar Monroe.
9. Ford Street Studios
2934 Ford Street
Ford Street Studios is a live-work loft community that is home to many well-known artists including Fernando Reyes, a fine/visual artist. Here, you’ll find many oil paintings, drawings, and prints by Reyes in addition to the studios of artists Peter Dreyfuss and Lisa Levine.
Working primarily with steel, artist Peter Dreyfuss creates sculptures that are inspired by the shapes, lines, and colors found in movements such as cubism, Bauhaus, and abstract expressionism. His art, both in steel and paint, is abstract and non-representational. A self-taught steel sculptor, Dreyfuss allows the materials and processes to lead him with gestural and hand-drawn shapes to create balance between intention and imagination. Find out more about Reyes and Dreyfuss.
Ford Street Studios is also the home to many aspiring musicians including The T Sisters, who are local favorites. You can find out more information at tsisters.com.
10. Lisa Levine
2934 Ford Street #2, Oakland, CA 94601
A fine art photographer and educator, Lisa Levine has lived in the Bay Area and worked in her Jingletown studio for more than twenty-five years. She currently teaches photography at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco in both the graduate and undergraduate divisions. Lisa has worked in the public art sector for many years, creating large-scale commissioned work for public, as well as private, spaces.
11. Peterson St. Art Wall and Garden
Peterson St between Chapman St and Ford St, Oakland, CA 94601
The Peterson St. Art Wall and Garden was led by Cynthia Elliott and Jill McLennan of the Jingletown Arts, Businesses, and Community group (JABC). Along with other community members, they collectively organized and designed 2000 sq/ft of murals and mosaics with 16 neighborhood artists to beautify the neighborhood and support creek restoration.
The wall is anchored by the Virgen de Guadalupe mosaic by Kim Larson in the center and a community chalkboard on the Chapman St end. The final mural titled ‘Sausal Creek to Fruitvale’ was completed in 2012. This piece was designed and painted by students from ARISE High School guided by McLennan and funded by the City of Oakland Cultural Funding Grant. They’ve also planted a native plant garden through a partnership with The Friends of Sausal Creek, FOSC, that highlights the Chaparral region of Sausal Creek that flows underground through the neighborhood. The garden is an ongoing neighborhood project with volunteers helping with new plantings, cleaning, and weeding at community events.
12. Dragon School Murals
Corner of Peterson St. and Ford St., Oakland, CA 94601
The murals on the other side of Peterson Street were created by a team of Dragon School artists in late 2019. This collection of murals along the corner of Peterson St. and Ford St. feature works by Kaylen DeJesus, Iris Malang and Dan Akuna, Jasmine Quiroga, David Cho and Simon Tran. There was also additional support offered by teenagers from Oakland and San Francisco. From the dragon to the crouching panther, take a moment to soak in the colors and textures that these various artworks embrace.
A 501(c)3 organization, Dragon School provides a space for creativity, collaboration, and community ownership. These murals were created through a partnership with Oakland Art Murmur and with grant funding provided by Keep Oakland Beautiful.
This experience was crafted by Jena Dominique, a prominent Bay Area voice and tastemaker. She is a creative entrepreneur that focuses on community and place. As an Airbnb superhost, the founder of StreetSalad.Co, and creator of the Oakland Postcard Scavenger Hunt, Jena is an expert experience curator. From the hyperlocal postcards she photographs, to the StreetSalad walking tours she leads, Jena’s specialty is producing multimedia content and activations that shift the perspective of Oakland. Her combined knowledge of local landmarks, contagious energy, and vibrant self-expression are sure to expand your perspective.
Jena has been designing and leading experiences in Oakland for the past 3 years.