Take This, West Bay 

Richmond hosts the East Bay underground


The East Bay has, for some time now, been quietly emerging as a prolific breeding ground for cutting edge artwork that defies expectation and the artifice that usually accompanies insular art scenes. There are no better examples of that than at this month's opening of Curate This, a group show comprising six of the region's brightest alternative art spaces under one gorgeous roof. Hosted by the Richmond Art Center, Curate This formally announces Oakland and Berkeley as formidable art havens, rich in serious artists vying for space and savvy curators searching them out. Although, according to Ego Park founder and curator Kevin Slagle, it isn't always a matter of searching these days. He says there's so much vibrant work out there that, for his purposes, simply putting out the word is enough. The art scene here, he explains, has finally reached a pinnacle after years of hard work. It's really beginning to pay off. Call it synchronicity or call it sweat on the brow, but for such diverse organizations to come together and form such an inspiring and cohesive body of work can only point to a climate of openness and nurturing that describes the very mission of the space it occupies. The Richmond Art Center lists among its objectives "to get you involved," and invites everyone in the community to come on Saturday for a reception from 3 to 6 p.m. Those who do will see work chosen by East Bay hot spots Cricket Engine, an art collective founded by CCA students and grads; West Oakland warehouse gallery Liminal Arts; Slagle's uptown art space Ego Park; Mama Buzz, Oakland's hippest coffee spot and art playground; 21 Grand, the volunteer-run co-op that always provides the edgiest new work; and last but not least, South Berkeley nonprofit Epic Arts, bringing art to the community since 1997. Also, take a load off in the Twisters corner lounge, a chill space as sleek and retro as a waiting room from a Hitchcock flick. It's a coronation that's been well worth the work and the wait for anyone who loves art. So don't cross the bay or pay a high ticket price.

The Richmond Art Center can be found at 2540 Barrett Ave., and it's BART- and wheelchair-accessible, with plenty of free parking. Info: www.therac.org, 510-620-6772. Donations accepted. -- Justine Nicole


Ouds & Ahhs

We're all Armenian this weekend

St. Vartan Cathedral, in downtown Manhattan, is the symbol of Armenian Catholics in the New World. Experience a little of the Near East for yourself at Oakland's own St. Vartan Bazaar and Food Festival. St. Vartan Armenian Church, 650 Spruce St. (off MacArthur Blvd.) hosts Armenian and Middle Eastern savories, pastries, live music, traditional folk dancing, kids' activities, cultural exhibits, and a raffle for a $1,000 Visa gift card. Admission: $2 for adults Friday (open 5:30 p.m.-midnight), $3 Saturday (open noon-midnight). Kids under twelve get in for a buck both days. 510-893-1671. -- Stefanie Kalem


Acid Flippin'

While working with slides as a camera operator, Kathleen Gross developed her own processes of shooting new photos of original chromes through a series of intricate masks. The results are colorful to the nth degree, psychotropic revisions of such everyday objects as table settings and pinball machines. So where else to mount a show but the Bay Area's only underground silver-ball joint, Lucky Juju? Flipped Out!: Past and Present Photographic Treatments opens this Friday with a reception at 5 p.m., and stays up on the arcade and art gallery walls until the 30th. A $10 donation is requested at the opening, but the vintage pinball play at Lucky Juju is always free. 713 E. Santa Clara, Alameda. UJuju.com -- Stefanie Kalem


Open Mouth, Insert Brat

Want a little German in ya? Well, there's no better time than this weekend to essen some schnitzel and trinken some bier in Alameda, when that little haus on the island, Speisekammer, hosts its Oktoberfest . Both days feature music, dancing, and a kids' area. The holiday menu includes massive pieces of grilled pork shank and bratwurst, and about neun gajillion varieties of Deutscher beer. 2424 Lincoln Ave. from noon on into the evening. Speisekammer.com or 510-522-1300. -- Stefanie Kalem


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