Monday, June 22, 2015

The Eugenery or The Imaginary Creature Shoppe

Since graduation, I've been longing for a space where I might concentrate on nothing other than my art and design projects, whether they be commissions, personal or purely exploratory. I am in a part of Downtown Oakland where I once shopped with my mother and sister at places like Newberry's and Milen's on Telegraph near 19th. This building, with its gleaming marble Art Deco fas├žade is across from the Fox Oakland Theater that lay dormant for many years after the 1989 Loma-Prieta quake. I am also close to the Paramont Theater where I saw my first concerts with my Godfather Sam who also lived in Oakland until his passing not too long ago. I saw Atlantic Starr and The Ojays there as well as what I think was a Sesame Street on-stage production with a Batman and Robin cameo. My great-grandfather would also take me to this area when I was small. He lived with my great-grandmother on Milvia right across from Oakland Technical High School into his early 90s.

Oakstop is another "co-working" space that has been in here for over a year. I learned of it last summer around the same time that I was discovering Uptown, the New Parkway Theater, Oakland Art Murmur and the Oakland Drink and Draw. I rent a workstation in the main open area where I can store a few supplies, plug in when I need to work on the computer or throw on the apron and draw or paint. The buzz of activity around me is not unlike the environment at CCAC where cost-cutting measures led to an architectural sham of "open" classrooms in the form of cheap, partitioned bays with false promises of community and collaboration. The result was a constant interdepartmental fight for space and an intolerable noise level during classes. Working in isolation is good, but I need a bit of human contact and space to walk around and stretch my legs from time to time. I expect to be here for a while.

Working here is its own experiment. I've always been in the habit of making work when I don't have work, but getting up and "going to the studio" on my off days is a little tough. It takes discipline to make it a routine.

Things are looking up, but it's hard to shake the shame and depression that comes with chronic underemployment, dependance on family and the challenge of building a freelance illustration and design practice. Things would be so much easier if I could drive a truck or even fling boxes with the stability and security of union behind me. The uneasy and narrow space between fear, hope and confidence somehow fits snugly like a warm coat during this summer of uncertainty.

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