“This past month of April, I was given a 60 day notice to leave and make way for a restaurant,” said Svea Lin Soll, sole proprietor and director at Swarm Gallery.

According to Soll, the gallery is closing this June and the current exhibition will be her last show.

Swarm opened in February of 2006 and since then, matured into a traditional gallery – it is also a working place for local artists in 11 studio spaces, located in the back of the gallery.

Soll said that she did not know that this was going to be her last show until last month.

“Real estate is going up and a lot of restaurants are moving in, unfortunately art suffers the most in times like this,” she said. “It’s actually kind of odd that this is happening because we are starting to develop a very vibrant art scene here.”

Soll explained that she has been renting out the space and recently, the landlords wanted to either raise the rent or rent it out to another business – she said that she was basically priced out of the place.

“I do not have the capital to open another gallery space at the moment and I can’t afford to pay any more than I already am for the gallery space,” Soll said.

Soll has a strong background in the Oakland Arts community. She has a masters in Museum Studies and curatorial work. Before opening Swarm, Soll was working at Pro Arts Gallery. After leaving Pro Arts, she spent about a year developing the concept for Swarm.

“I wanted to stay in the art world and it took me eight to nine months to come up with a business model,” she said. “I developed a relationship with the land lord of Pro Arts at the time, Merritt Sher and he liked my proposal.”

Soll was not representing any artists until a year and a half after opening Swarm – she now represents local and national artists and sometimes international artists. She is currently representing eight artists, whom she refers to as ‘gallery artists’ she represents on a regular basis but also has affiliate artists to work alongside with the gallery artists.

Soll said that the whole idea was to bring affiliate artists on a noncommittal basis so that she could allow people to show work together. “I feel very inspired and interested in processes that encourage the concept of collaboration and experimentation.”

Michael Thurin, gallery associate, said that Soll has about eight to nine shows a year and that it will certainly be a loss for the arts community because Swarm has been a great resource for artists and also art enthusiasts.

“The relationship and the work of gallery artists will be maintained and we will continue to promote their work at offsite exhibitions,” he said.

Thurin said, Swarm is having a big closing night on June 9 – “there will be live music, screen printing, among others things.”

According to the gallery website, the gallery features contemporary work by emerging and established artists through exhibitions, flat files, studio space an programs, and it is an experimental platform for sound, video and installation based work.

Location & Hours:

560 Second St. Oakland CA, 94607

T/F: (510) 839-2787

Gallery Hours: Wednesday – Sunday 12PM – 5:30PM – First Fridays 6 – 9PM

Current Exhibition: 

April 27 – June 9, 2013 FICTIONAL/FAMILIAR – Cybele Lyle, Leigh Merrill, Emma Spertus

Artist Talk, Saturday, June 1, 2013 3PM

“FICTIONAL/FAMILIAR” features two and three-dimensional work drawing on architecture, photography, and everyday objects to create an allegory of perspective and sense of place. More information on the current show: Exhibition Press Release

Gallery Links:

Swarm Gallery – Facebook Page

Swarm Gallery – Official Website

Swarm Gallery – Blog

Oakland Art Murmur – Official Website

First Friday – Official Website


One Response

  1. Phil Gomes

    Wow… I’m very, very sad to hear this.

    I’m an East Bay native living in Chicago. I very much wanted to get married in the East Bay and my wife and I chose Swarm. So many great memories… Stories I fondly tell to this day… Stories that probably could not have happened anywhere else. And Svea was awesome to work with. Such a shame that the place is closing.


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