A Mecca for Creativity 

No creative outlet goes unexplored in the East Bay's vast cultural landscape.

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Oakland Ice Center (519 18th St., Oakland, 510-268-9000) features public skating throughout all seasons, lessons for aspiring figure skaters, or a hockey game or two for those willing to wield a stick.

Oaks Card Club (4097 San Pablo Ave., Emeryville, 510-653-4456), open 24-7, has Texas Hold-em and 21st-century blackjack, plus large-screen TVs keeping you posted on ball games around the world.

Trapeze Arts (1822 9th St., Oakland, 510-419-0700, TrapezeArts.com) teaches and trains novices and experts alike, and hosts individuals, birthday parties, and bridal showers.

Theater Companies

Aurora Theatre Company (2081 Addison St., Berkeley, 510-843-4822, AuroraTheatre.org) offers a heady selection of smart contemporary plays, including many West Coast premieres, mixed in with a few classics, all in an intimate theater-in-the-round almost right next to Berkeley Rep.

Berkeley Repertory Theatre (2025 Addison St., Berkeley, 510-647-2949, BerkeleyRep.org) has kept up such a high standard of excellence on its two stages in recent years that it stands head and shoulders above larger regional rivals.

California Shakespeare Theatre (100 Wilder Rd., Orinda, 510-548-9666, CalShakes.org) boasts a lovely outdoor amphitheater in the Orinda hills, where every summer Cal Shakes does a couple of Shakespeare plays, as well as irresistible offerings by Shaw, Wilde, and Dickens.

Central Works (2315 Durant Ave., Berkeley, 510-558-1381, CentralWorks.org) makes every one of its plays a collaborative creation of the artists involved, whether they're dramatic adaptations of literary classics or examinations of pressing political issues, all staged in a cozy theater-in-the-round in the elegant Berkeley City Club.

Contra Costa Civic Theatre (951 Pomona Ave., El Cerrito, 510-524-9132, CCCT.org) puts on comedies and musicals, mysteries and dramas from Sondheim to the Marx Brothers to Agatha Christie with unusually solid production values.

Impact Theatre (1834 Euclid Ave., Berkeley, ImpactTheatre.org) shows might be polished or rough, but they're always fun and fast-paced, conveniently located in a pizza-parlor basement right next to the Cal campus.

Shotgun Players (1901 Ashby Ave., Berkeley, 510-841-6500, ShotgunPlayers.org) have become a South Berkeley fixture with their own solar-powered theater where they offer an eclectic mix of new plays and challenging work from Caryl Churchill, Mamet, Brecht, Garcia Lorca, or whoever they haven't tried yet.

Woman's Will (WomansWill.org), the East Bay's all-female Shakespeare company, does one show for free in the parks over the summer — usually Shakespeare, turning the Elizabethan custom of all-male casts on its head — and often an autumn indoor show as well.

Visual Arts

4707 Telegraph Gallery (4707 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-229-7744, 4707Telegraph.wordpress.com) is a studio and exhibition space, currently curated by artists Kara Joslyn, Ariel Roman, and Justin Olerud.

57th Street Gallery (5701 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-654-6974, 57thStreetGallery.com) features rotating artist exhibitions and an ever-growing private collection of paintings.

ABCo Warehouse Space (3135 Filbert St., Oakland, ABCoArtSpace.com) houses some twelve resident artists, their work, a few cats, and hosts Oakland's Art Murmur as well as live music shows.

ACCI Gallery (1652 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-843-2527, ACCIGallery.com) is the oldest arts & crafts cooperative west of the Mississippi, and has its own exhibition space and retail outlet.

Addison Street Windows Gallery (2018 Addison St., Berkeley, 510-981-7546) intends for the viewer to enjoy mixed-media art exhibits from outside, through its windows. Therefore it's always free, and always open.

Albany Arts Gallery (1251 Solano Ave., Albany, 510-526-9558, AlbanyArtsGallery.com) is owned and operated by photographer Michael T. Williams and potter Susan Paul-Williams, and is known for the enamel, wood, and porcelain work created by renowned local artists.

Alta Galleria (2980 College Ave., Berkeley, 510-414-4485, AltaGalleria.com), founded by forty-year contemporary art collector, Alta, features rotating shows of mostly California-based painters, many that are local to the San Francisco Bay Area.

Ames Gallery (2661 Cedar St., Berkeley, 510-845-4949, AmesGallery.com) is the West Coast's only gallery featuring contemporary paintings, drawings, and sculpture created by self-taught, visionary, and outsider art in addition to antique Americana folk art.

Art@theOakBook (423 Water St., Oakland, 510-282-2139, TheOakBook.com) is a gallery in Jack London Square run by the online magazine, OakBook.

Artworks Gallery and Foundry (729 Heinz Ave., Berkeley, 510-644-2735, ArtworksFoundry.com) has served over 2,000 artists in projects ranging from miniature to monumental.

Art Murmur (various Oakland galleries, OaklandArtMurmur.com), Oakland's First Friday downtown art stroll and Gen X/Y tribal gathering, is like Critical Mass without bikes, Woodstock without mud.

ASUC Art Studio Gallery (Lower Sproul Plaza, UC Berkeley, 510-642-3065, ASUCArtStudio.org) provides art instruction for students (at a discount rate) as well as the larger community.

Bedford Gallery (1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek, 925-295-1417) does a fine job balancing public accessibility with aesthetic excellence, assembling shows of quality.

The Berkeley Art House and Cultural Center (2905 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley) is a cultural center and art gallery featuring live acts on the weekends.

Chandra Cerrito Contemporary (480 23rd St., Oakland, 510-260-7494, ChandraCerrito.com) generally shows two or three midcareer California artists who make conceptual work with strong visual form.

Eclectix Gallery (Eclectix.com) goes for weird humor: pop surrealism, kitsch, gothic, and other lowbrow absurdism.

Expressions Gallery (2035 Ashby Ave., Berkeley, 510-644-4930, ExpressionsGallery.org) fosters creativity with its classes, demonstrations, concerts, poetry readings, and monthly meetings of the Collectors and Critics Circle.

The Float Center (1091 Calcot Pl. #116, Oakland, 510-535-1702) combines a flotation tank/alpha-wave retreat with an art gallery.

Hearst Art Gallery at Saint Mary's College (1928 Saint Mary's Rd., Moraga, 925-631-4379, StMarys-CA.edu/arts/hearst-art-gallery) features a permanent exhibit including 2,200 art objects such as 19th- and 20th-century paintings, drawings, etchings, and watercolors, plus sculptures and photographs


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