Best Hometown Celebration: An enthusiastic happening that's really happening
Oakland Art Murmur
As a concept, "First Friday" is not unique to the Oakland art scene. Most US cities seem to have some version of the monthly gallery crawl (though some have First Thursdays instead). But in the area along Telegraph and Broadway between Grand Avenue to 40th St., a dozen art galleries of multiple stripes have created an outdoor happening. The Oakland Art Murmur attracts swarms of neighborhood residents, Urban Outfittered teens from Walnut Creek, and Berkeley's hippie academic elite to galleries as posh as Esteban Sabar (480 23rd St.) and as on-the-fly (and open once monthly) as auto3321 (3321 Telegraph Ave.). It's not just the people mix that makes the Art Murmur an artful cut above the average art walk; it's the grassroots nature of the event. The jug band set up on a street corner, the knots of folks strolling the evening streets instead of bustling hurriedly from Point A to Point B, and the lack of cheesy banners and other signs of crass sponsorship all conspire to do an artsy, community-minded heart good.