Devin Satterfield's Culture of Chaos 

This underground art maven and city culture commissioner embodies all his scene's contradictions.

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"I would call my friends back home in the Midwest and say, 'This is incredible. You have no idea; it's amazing,'" said Amanda Warner, whose psychedelic pop band, Triangle, has played at several Liminal and Liminal-related events. "We can put on these shows in these art galleries and there's no rules, no insurance, there's no anything. People our age are putting these on, and they're not people with money. They're not people who own these spaces. I was like, 'What an opportunity.'"

Devin and his cohorts have taken that opportunity and run like hell. "We've always really tried, and almost always succeeded, at being a little more advanced than the average West Oakland party warehouse," he said.

And in the process, they've done some amazing things. For Water, Hatch filled the space's lower level with 5,500 cubic feet of water and got artist Joyce Hsu to populate it with hovering mechanical dragonflies. Bands played, visitors swam, and the fire department arrived. Hatch's Urbanology featured live hip-hop from Foreign Legion and the Buckle Brothers, and art by Justin Artifice, Erik Groff, and many more. For Sassy and Surly's Circus Sideshow, the collective constructed a museum of oddities, a dimly lit room packed with items that could have been either sculptures or fetuses in jars. Devin culled a lineup of the Bay Area's best neo-vaudevillians, including Camanda Galactica and SF Weekly April cover stars the Yard Dogs Road Show. Liminal residents and friends staffed a kissing booth until they were gradually ousted by party patrons looking for a piece of the action.

Liminal's profile wouldn't be so high if not for Devin. "That's just serendipity for all of us," said Groff, whose person-sized, cardboard-box cityscapes represent the West Oakland art scene's accessible, recycled-junk mindset and have shown at Liminal several times. "Devin is the kind of charismatic guy who knows how to pull it together, or else ... not do something if it's not going to pull together."

Devin eventually parlayed his party-throwing knack into bringing bands and vaudeville nights into Cafe Van Kleef, whose owner, Peter Van Kleef, knew Devin from managing Cafe 817, where Van Kleef was a frequent customer. "Devin's been wonderful," Van Kleef said. "He's booked some eclectic acts that I would never have known about, because they're of his generation, and some of them worked very well.

"He's 23 years old -- he's still developing as a person. But his foundation's very good."

Devin's ubiquity within the hipster stratosphere led to his March 2004 appointment to the city's Cultural Affairs Commission, of which he is the youngest member by about fifteen years.

"The day I interviewed for the job in the mayor's office," recalled Gil Jose Duran, aide to Mayor Jerry Brown, "I was parallel parking downtown, and I knocked over this table. So I put it upright, and when I got back from my interview, in front of the bar were these tables, and there's Devin standing there. And he said, 'Have you seen this bar? It's going to be the hippest place in town in a month.' And it was Cafe Van Kleef, which I had never heard of before."

Indeed, the bar soon was Oakland's hippest watering hole. "Devin has a way of popping up," Duran continued. "The mayor was familiar with him, because Mama Buzz is right in Jerry's neighborhood, and Devin used to work at 817. So you know, a familiar face, and a guy who's always handing out a flier for this or that show he's promoting, seems like somebody who can get things done, and who's interested on more than a superficial, paper level. ... We wanted to really get at putting some people on the boards and commissions for art that represent the new spirit of artists in Oakland. ... Jerry had met Devin a few times, and when we were going through the process of looking for people to fill those slots ... he mentioned Devin -- well, maybe not necessarily by name, but as 'You know, that guy, Mama Buzz, Van Kleef.' And I was like, 'Devin. '"


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