2016 Recap

2016- a year of noted uncertainty, drive and motivation. Before diving in, let us take a moment to participate in a breathing exercise that has inspired a program we have slated for early 2017, Breathe In//Breathe Out. We all know we could use it:


Feeling a bit more relaxed, we remark on the trials and successes of this past year – the truth is, one never existed without the other. 2016 began with a First Friday program exploring rhythm, abstraction, and mathematics – The Digital Pulse – curated by The Great Wall of Oakland’s curatorial committee and featuring works by Sandra Araujo, Guang Zhu, Matteo Pasin, and Shannon Novak.


Runtime Error (Sandra Araujo)

April was a busy month with a series of commissioned pieces both on the Wall and off – Mobile InTent: Borderless Imaginary, Mobile InTent at The Ridge Space, and Hye Young Kim’s Intimate Distance at ProArts and Jack London Square. After a rain-out in March, Anne Schnake’s Mobile InTent: Borderless Imaginary program screened on our Wall during April First Friday. A commissioned site-specific installation of sculptural works, performance, music and video projection directed by Ann Schnake, this provocative work explored the poetics of borders and distribution of resources, and the collision between tenderness and greed. This program was a collaboration featuring sculptural installations by Ann Schnake, dance performances by Carmen Serber and Natalie Green, live music by Kristina Dutton, and images by Robert Gomez Hernandez. The following week, Mobile InTent: Borderless Imaginary moved to The Ridge Space, where audiences were able to see a live performance of the one-hour work while sampling small plates by chef Sylvi Osborne Calierno. Capping off April, the Wall welcomed another brilliant artist, Hye Young Kim, to Oakland. Her project, Intimate Distance, captured the psychological intimate moment by insisting that participants interact at unusually close physical distances, whether friends, family, or complete strangers, to reveal and artificially construct relationship dynamics. We partnered with Pro Arts to present Kim’s film, and the following day moved to Jack London to stage a participatory event, documenting Oaklanders as they enacted the Intimate Distance performance.

nonameMobile InTent: Borderless Imaginary (Ann Schnake)

Kim,HyeYoung_IntimateDistance03Intimate Distance (Hye Young Kim)

Late Spring, we were officially alerted that our building was undergoing a change in management, resulting in the loss of our office space and the uncertain loss of our access to the Great Wall itself. The next six months were spent in limbo – uncertain if we were to have access to the Great Wall in the upcoming year, we began to think about our options. 

We channeled this uncertainty into our October First Friday program, Where Now?, which featured work by Will Hurt, Adrian Regnier, and Brandon Woodruff, and looked at the refiguration of city space and architecture- a city in flux, deconstruction, and suspension. Will Hurt’s piece, 2201 Broadway, even looked at a deconstruction of our own building, presenting architectural elements of the Great Wall floating in space, interacting with one another yet always allowing for reconfiguration and change.


2201 Broadway (Will Hurt)

For November’s First Friday, we partnered with Writ Large to present a group of textual works, including the Bay Area premiere of Stan VanDerBeek’s “Poem Fields” series and a curated selection of highlights from the Motionpoems series pairing poets with filmmakers. Following this presentation on the Wall, we held a “Too Hot for Art Murmur” screening at B4BEL4B gallery, which included a crowd-pleasing selection of participatory karaoke-based films by Weird Allan Kaprow and Human Rights Karaoke. These programs were supported by the Zellerbach Family Foundation and the Clorox Mini-Arts Grant.


Stan VanDerBeek


Continents (Weird Allan Kaprow)

December featured two more partnerships with local arts organizations – Bandaloop and Mobile Arts Platform. The Wall kicked off the month with Into Thin Air, a program with films exploring dance, landscape, and environment, followed by a presentation by renowned vertical dance troupe Bandaloop. This program included beautiful works by Cat Del Buono, Nancy Dewhurst, Jayson Tang, and more. December First Friday was our first evening with Mobile Arts Platform’s On the Road, a series of mobile video screenings and interactive art-making projects that will transform a classic 1963 Ford Falcon van into a community engagement tool that will travel throughout Oakland exploring the changes and migration patterns happening in this rapidly evolving city over the next four months. This project will be exploring the ever changing history of Oakland and will be screening films resonating with this theme from early PBA’s from the 1920’s – 1970’s in addition to contemporary pieces by video artists working in the city today. In our December edition, we featured the works of Michael Salu, Nelson Enriquez, Mobile Arts Platform, Chelsea B. and Linnea Zulch. We are very excited to share more of these programs in the coming year!


(Nancy Dewhurst)


Yesterday (Michael Salu)

The final months of this year have dealt steady blows – the results of our national election and tragedy of the Ghost Ship Fire have greatly shaped our goals for this upcoming year, and we are more motivated than ever to fight to continue our work in Oakland, to provide free public projection arts for Oaklanders and support other artist-run spaces in their work.

As the end of the year approaches, please help us continue to support art and activate public space with art by making a tax-deductible donation to support us. You can also support our work through Amazon Smile every time you shop, at no cost to you.

A huge thanks to our Board of Directors: Becca Anzalone, Kristina Gentleman, Laura Schewel, Cassandra Hartman, Lila Abdul-Rahim, Michelle Tan, Vinita Goyal, Sarah Kalinoski. Special acknowledgement to founder and board president Chris Curtis as he transitioned off the board this past year – we really wouldn’t be here without him. And a big thanks to our dedicated volunteers Anna Pena, Lee Robinson, Hannah Faye, Dory Ellis, Isabel Reyna; our curatorial board: Melinda James, Brittney Reaume and Kathleen Maguire.

-Andrea, Karly, Nikki, and the crew at the Great Wall