I have lived in the same neighborhood of Oakland California, for over twenty years.
I have also managed to live without the use of automobile for all of these years and even without the use of a bicycle for the most part. To say I have observed an area roughly 1/4 square mile area of my neighborhood in Oakland, California in great detail would be an accurate statement.
Fourteen years ago artist Emily Wick and I opened a storefront gallery and studio space on Telegraph Avenue, just north of 47th Street. We designed our sign to mimic the look of the Maya Motel next door.
We named it the space Smokey’s Tangle after our imaginary cat’s toy – a tangled knot of nautical rope we found washed up on the shore.
In 2018, after ten years, a major rent increase forced us to close shop, which allowed us to turn our attentions to other activities. I began using the sidewalks and unused lots around my studio space, creating location-based paintings, drawings, videos, and maps.
KQED’s Check, Please! | Asmara Restaurant Revie Intro
I spent a month of evenings painting the eastern side of Telegraph Avenue from 49th Street to 51st Street. I painted both the building façades as well as bird’s-eye-views of the sidewalks in front.
I happened to be spotted by a film crew from KQED “Check, Please!” film as they were in the neighborhood for their episode on the neighborhood’s oldest operating Eritrean/Ethiopian restaurant, Asmara Restaurant.
Since 2014, I’ve spent many nights painting all about my neighborhood, but no area rivals my time spent along Telegraph Avenue between 47th and 45th Streets.
Radically Sharing Temescal
A group of artists, hackers, and other creative people have launched Omni Commons, a new community resource center in North Oakland that they hope will be an antidote to gentrification. By Julian Mark Jan 21, 2015
“She and Brooks were featured in a 2009 Wall Street Journal article as exemplars of the creative — albeit “yupster” — transformation of Temescal. “Our gallery was funded with money we saved by living frugally and not having a car,” Brooks wrote. “We did not open the gallery as a way to make money, and quickly discovered that the best part about having the space and promoting the art nights was the community we discovered.”
Photograph | Smokey’s Tangle Interface Gallery Takeover Photo Booth Diorama (2014)
In 2014 our gallery and studio Smokey’s Tangle was invited to takeover a Oakland art galley Interface, located in the Temescal Alley. For the month of February Emily and I used the gallery as our open studio and gallery with works curated by Interface owner Suzanne L’Heureux
Emily also created a photo diorama capturing willing gallery visitors a chance to use our costume box and be photographed agains the white wall. Afterwords the photos were printed onto paper and cut out and grouped together to create a single photo which was captured by the help of local photographer Clayton Mitchel (Clayton J. Mitchell Photography).
Emily used the space for oil paintings, as I spent my time cutting everybody out.
Publication | Smokey’s Tangle 5 Yearbook by Emily Wick & Brian Brooks (2014)
On the occasion of Smokey’s Tangle’s 5th anniversary, Emily Wick created the Smokey’s Tangle 5-Yearbook, a 140 collecting artwork from our many shows and artists, fliers and hundreds of photos our numerous far-out photo booths.
“The best gallery in the world!”
(Mr. Let’s Paint T.V.)
Oakland Art Murmur Gallery Member (Smokey’s Tangle) & Postcard/ Map Designer (2011)
The Temescal Art Hop was a biannual neighborhood event co-created by Brian Brooks and Emily Wick. (2010-2015)
“… the best part about having the space and promoting the art nights was the community we discovered.”
– Brian Brooks
Wall Street Journal December 3, 2009
“It wasn’t always that way. Brian Brooks, who opened the Smokey’s Tangle art gallery in February, said when he moved to the area 10 years ago, it was desolate. “There was a video store and a grocery store with rotten produce,” he said, adding that drug dealing and prostitution were rampant.
Mr. Brooks and other residents said Temescal started transforming five years ago. Drawn by the location and the diversity of the neighborhood’s residents, the eateries Pizzaiolo and Bakesale Betty’s opened to form the core of what is now called the neighborhood’s “Gourmet Ghetto.”
– Wall Street Journal