This week, Oakulture celebrates a milestone of sorts: it’s the 50th installment of this weekly column. To commemorate, it seemed apt to look over some of our most-inspired photos from 2013, and select 13 of those. Except we had no idea how challenging a task that would be. Oakland in 2013 was extremely vibrant and abuzz with activity. It’s a hard problem for a photographer to have—too many great shots to include them all—but that’s exactly what we were faced with. (Luckily, last week’s Year in Review column also included some great photos taken in 2013). It would have been easy to pick 13 shots from just live shows alone, or 13 shots taken at First Friday, or 13 shots highlighting visual art – you get the idea.
Oakulture carefully poured over its 2013 photo archives, then picked out a smidgen of the images that stood out. Then we counted them up. Oops. 52 images in total, or exactly four times as many as we needed. So it was back to the drawing board, whittling down the images to just 13 pictures. There were some interesting, artsy shots that didn’t make the list, and an executive decision was made by Oakulture management (ahem) not to include non-local musicians, despite the number of off-the-chain shows by national and international acts who embraced Oakland in song. In the end, the shots that did make the final cut represented a broad cross-section of cultural activity from a representative sampling of ethnic backgrounds: African American, Latin, Asian, European, etc., touching on various artistic elements: music, dance, literature, film, visual art, even traditional cuisine. (All photos by EKAphotography)
1-O.A.K.’s performance at March’s First Fridays was a poignant one. It came on the heels of the tragic shooting death of Kiante Campbell following the prior month’s event, and included a discerned call for healing which resulted in the “Respect Our City” campaign. The outline of a neon cross from the nearby the Korean Christian Church, visible to the left of the singer’s head, symbolized the spirituality of that moment.
In February, the monthly 7-inch party 45 Sessions celebrated its third anniversary. This picture captures the legendary DJ Shortkut, looking almost like a multi-armed Hindu deity, deep in concentration as he executed a mix.
August’s annual Art & Soul Festival is always a fun time; one that promises numerous photo opportunities and never fails to deliver. The juxtaposition of Brazilian samba dance troupe Energia do Samba, led by the incomparable Maisa Duke, and Bang Data drummer, Juan Manuel Caipo, captured the multicultural spirit on full display that afternoon.
Speaking of juxtapositions, the integration of hip-hop and classical music seems an odd one, like peanut butter and vinegar. Yet Ensemble Mik Nawooj, shown here with emcees Sandman and Do D.A.T., pulled it off. Adding to the visual interest is the fact the performance happened on Latham Square’s temporary pop-up stage.
Are we in Oakland, or have we been transported to one of the mystical, mythical islands of Indonesia? It’s hard to tell if we are in Bali or… Uptown? That’s what happened when Gamelan Sekar Jaya gave a free performance at the Uptown Art Park, and Oakulture was there to document the scene.
Ok, where are we now? Seville? Grenada? Barcelona? If you said, Duende, you’d be right. Theatre Flamenco guest artist Cristina Hall is pictured here, performing during the bar/restaurant’s bi-weekly flamenco dance series.
Watching flamenco being performed for the first time, it seemed reminiscent of turf dancing. Some of the movements are similar, particularly the hand motions, and there’s a lot of improvisation in both styles. Both dances also tell stories, some of which are tragic, sad or otherwise emotional; turfin’ in particular is often therapeutic for its youthful participants, many of whom have lost friends, relatives or loved ones to the streets. This picture is from a Turf Inc. battle, hosted by Johnny 5, a member of the Turf Feinz crew.
Last November, literary icon Alice Walker appeared at the Grand Lake Theater for a panel discussion following a screening of the documentary on her life, “Beauty in Truth.” As you can see, Walker is still quite beautiful herself.
This shot is from the premiere of “Fruitvale Station” at the Grand Lake. The entire cast of the film was on hand, as was the family of Oscar Grant. Oakulture happened to catch Cephus “Uncle Bobby” Jackson—who’s a natty dresser—getting interviewed as Forest Whitaker, the producer, watched. The contrast between their expressions was very interesting, like they were having a very respectful unspoken conversation.
Tamarindo Antojeria has some of the best Mexican cuisine in Oakland, but if that wasn’t enough, they hosted chef Benedicta Alejo—shown here with Gloria Dominguez– who made a special dinner of pre-Colombian dishes. It’s really fascinating how much culture Oakland really has.
This shot is from Hiero Day. It’s Tajai’s custom Chuck Taylors, festooned with the “third eye” Hiero logo. It’s one of those pictures that tells a larger story, in this case of a legendary hip-hop crew’s free performance in front of 15,000 adoring fans.
The Oakland Indie Awards are always a fun time, and it’s great to see the Kaiser Rooftop Gardens—one of Oakland’s best-kept secrets—being utilized. This year, SambaFunk debuted its live band and would have blown the roof off the venue, had the outdoor stage had a roof. This shot, of a SambaFunk dancer in full costumed regalia, captured the excitement and anticipation of that moment. The light was pretty good, too.
Day of the Dead, or Dia do Los Muertos, is an important occasion, when the ancestors are acknowledged. Every year, the Oakland Museum invites local artists to create altars. This amazing altar was created by Jose Enrique Ortiz, in collaboration with La Escuelita Elementary.
This week’s picks:
Belleza Connection: Namorados da Lua -Special Appearances by Audiopharmacy, Papiba from Sambada, Batala, Lucio K, SambaFunk! Funkquarians and Capoeira Luanda California, 1/10, 9pm, $10-$13, the New Parish 579 18th St.
SONIDO BAYLANDO INTERNACIONAL presents: Big Speaker S$%t, 1/10, 10pm, Cloud 9, 1320 9th, Berkeley.
“Skin” Liberation and Independence Day Celebration featuring DJ Cecil + Vocalist Monique Vieras , Live Percussion with Ajayi Jackson & Soul Mojo, DJ Leydis of Cuba, Emancipacion
Diaztek, Son of Son, 1/11, 9pm, $5-$10, Venue, 420 14th. St.
Reggae Gold Tribute to Africa, 1/11, 10pm, $10 b4 11pm with RSVP (email: firstname.lastname@example.org), New Parish, 579 18th St.
Original Sounds from the Bay pilot episode taping featuring live performance by Dynamic, 1/12, 7pm, $15, Ashkenaz, 1317 San Pablo, Berkeley.