29 Rooms: The art of the selfie

Last month, I visited Refinery 29’s new exhibit at The Palace of Fine Arts, called 29 Rooms. It was so interesting, and creative, and imaginative. I absolutely loved it! What I hadn’t realized before I got there is that the exhibit was essentially about the art of the selfie, and the advent of phones and cameras.

As you can see from the pictures, this was a big, interactive art exhibit. I was so blown away by how everything was put together, and definitely feel lucky to have snagged tickets to one of the three sessions they held. Each of the – you guessed it – 29 rooms, is a collaboration between Refinery 29 and an individual or entity (Planned Parenthood, Women’s March, Anna Kendrick, Janelle Monae, and Demi Lovato to name a few).

They covered everything from “healing” art, to LGBTQIA art, to erotic art, the aforementioned Women’s March and Demi Lovato tattoos. They all gave off some kind of powerful message, and allowed us to interact with the exhibits ourselves. My favorite room was for an upcoming movie called A Simple Favor, which centers around Stephanie (Anna Kendrick), a mommy vlogger who seeks to uncover the truth behind her best friend Emily’s (Blake Lively) sudden disappearance from their small town. We all have secrets and dark sides, so in this exhibit, people could write a secret on a piece of paper and roll it into a metal screen. You then could go through and randomly pull out somebody’s secret…my favorite one was the one pictured above, but they were all very interesting.

These next two pictures were very interesting – as you stood in front of the mirror, words quickly flicked onto the screen. The only way you could figure out what the statement said was by taking a picture of the image and capturing the words. We had many phrases, but this one stood out! The bottom photo was a hanging image that changed as it turned. It became twins on both sides; also very cool!

If 29 Rooms comes around again, especially in the Bay Area, I’d highly recommend giving it a look. For all the cool, unique things to do in San Francisco, this may have topped the list!

Art Town: Bolero

A recently-landscaped area on the corner of Ygnacio Valley Blvd. and N. Main St. in downtown Walnut Creek is the next subject of our Art Town monthly feature. Though the sculptures themselves may have stood out more before the remodel, the entire area looks a lot better now!

You may recognize the statue since it’s been there since 1988, but the whole corner is much more aesthetically-pleasing now. The flowers and the restructuring of the area make it something you want to stop and look at on the busy corner, rather than pass by. Scroll down for a few more pictures and a little background on the art itself!

The sculptor, Robert Holmes, was originally an engineer who designed and built homes before diving into art full-time in 1981. He works only with bronze, and has a studio in Sea Ranch with a foundry in Sebastopol. In this specific piece, Holmes wanted to distill the human form to essential elements, hence the faceless, dancing features.

Event Round-Up: June 16

Welcome back to the newest installment of Event Round-Up! As always, this is where we gather five of the best Bay Area events taking place over the next month or so. Let us know if you go to any of these, and if so, how you liked them!

1. Walnut Creek Uncorked (Weds., June 20)

Walnut Creek Downtown presents a brand new event, designed for the wine-lovers in our town. Tickets are $40 in advance, and get you access to wine tastings, restaurants, artisan fashion and jewelry stands, and live entertainment. You must be 21 to buy a ticket!

2. Danville Summerfest 2018 (Sat., June 23 & Sun., June 24) 

Danville has a little festival of its own that you may want to check out! Our neighbor has a cute downtown that will be filled with local music, art, and food vendors. There is a classic car show on Sunday, and the event is family and dog-friendly. Danville Summerfest will take place from 10-5 each day.

3. Alameda County Fair (Fri., June 15 – Sun., July 8)

It’s that time of year again! The Alameda County Fair at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton kicked into full gear yesterday, and will carry on through the weekend after 4th of July. If you don’t have larger travel plans, you can trek over to Pleasanton for this awesome annual event – LeeAnn Rimes, Blue Oyster Cult, and Sean Kingston are some of the many musical acts expected to perform this year.

4. 4th of July Fireworks (Weds., July 4)

I don’t have any particular event or link for you here. There are generally tons of good spots to choose from to watch East Bay fireworks on the 4th of July. Take the kiddos, your leftover BBQ, and a blanket to enjoy the show. My favorite place to catch them is up at Tahoe.

5. Walnut Creek First Wednesdays (Weds., July 11)

Another stellar outdoors event to celebrate all that Walnut Creek summers have to offer! There is free parking after 5 p.m. in many major downtown garages to help you get around. If you’ve never experienced a First Wednesdays celebration, it is chock-full of live music, food trucks, drinks, games and even a Kids Fun Zone. Check it out from 5:30-8:30 p.m. on Cypress St. in downtown.

Event Round-Up: May 19

Welcome back to the next installment of Event Round-Up! Below, you’ll find five of the best events around the Bay Area for the next few weeks. If you attend any, please let us know how they were – you may even be mentioned in a future blog!

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Bay to Breakers (May 20, 2018 – San Francisco)

Look, if you’ve still never experienced Bay to Breakers in San Francisco, you’re truly missing out on a one-of-a-kind spectacle you can’t get anywhere else in the world. Take advantage of this “race” of usually around 100,000 people dressing up in ridiculous outfits, drinking mimosas, and enjoying the sunshine in the city. It’s an early start, but you can take part in the festivities without actually registering for the race. Be there tomorrow – you won’t regret it!

Civic Park Public Art Installation (May 26, 2018 – Walnut Creek)

This will be a super cool, unique event. The Bedford Gallery and City of Walnut Creek Public Art Department have a National Endowment for the Arts grant for a public art installation in Civic Park. It brings world-famous sculptor Patrick Dougherty to town and should continue to put Walnut Creek’s art on the map. He plans to install a huge project made of woven willow saplings, and he’s calling for the public’s help volunteering to assist. The project has already begun and ends on May 26th, when there will be a free celebration in the park for your viewing pleasure!

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Mission Mural Tour (June 2, 2018 – San Francisco)

If you’ve ever wandered through The Mission District in San Francisco, you’ve probably eaten amazing Mexican food, stumbled upon a few mind-boggling murals, and then eaten even more amazing Mexican food. But it’s the middle thing we’re focusing on here, as you now have the chance to join a public, professional walking tour of the murals in The Mission. It will give you information, history and context around some of your favorite murals in The Mission. The tours are free, but the guides accept donations and tips!

First Wednesday (June 6, 2018 – Walnut Creek)

Cypress Street in downtown Walnut Creek will have a lot going for it on Wednesday, June 6th. That will be the next installation of the First Wednesday event that shuts down a whole city block and invites live music, dancing, food trucks, adult drinks, a Kids Fun Zone and games. There will also be a Chef’s Demo (in partnership with the Contra Costa Certified Farmers Market) and chances to win free prizes. You can park for free after 5 p.m. in all downtown garages that day, and the festivities last from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. I can’t recommend it highly enough – it’s always a great time!

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Haight Ashbury Street Fair (June 10, 2018 – San Francisco)

Similar to First Wednesday (only bigger, better and more famous – sorry Walnut Creek!), the Haight Ashbury Street Fair will take place a few days later in San Francisco. This fair has been around for decades and seems to get better every time I go. There is a ton of live music, the best food, drink and craft vendors around, and – as is typical with any event in San Francisco – a TON of people. As if you need an excuse to enjoy one of the city’s most famous neighborhoods on a beautiful day, go check out the Haight Ashbury Street Fair!

Next must-see pop-up? 29Rooms!

You heard about the Color Factory and the Museum of Ice Cream, which both popped up in San Francisco to massive fanfare. The next must-see pop-up exhibit in the city is going to be 29Rooms, an interactive exhibit presented by Refinery 29. It will be at the Palace of Fine Arts this June and I already got tickets – girls day out on Friday June 23rd, when a friend who moved back to the east coast will be visiting! Were you able to grab some tickets?

The exhibit is said to be composed of 29 different rooms bringing together “the worlds of style, culture and technology in visually stunning installations curated by a mix of artists, brands and even celebrities.” That sounds pretty awesome to me. Just check out some of these pictures and of course they are instagram moments:

29Rooms, Refinery 29's interactive fun house, is coming to San Francisco for four days only!
Getty Images/Refinery 29/TimeOut.com
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Timeout.com
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Vance Garrett Productions

29Rooms’ theme is “Turn It Into Art” and each room will tell a unique story. They still haven’t released this year’s artists or brands, though. According to the website, 29Rooms will be open to the public for only four days (June 21-24) for three sessions of three hours each day (11 am – 2 pm, 3-6 pm, 7-10 pm) and tickets are $39. They might be sold out, but somebody may be scalping them or they may be on Stub Hub!

Art Town: Figure (Get Set)

This utility box is on the corner of N. Main St. and Lincoln Ave. in downtown, and has been on display for a couple years now. It’s situated in front of Modern China, across from Opa, in a very heavily-trafficked part of downtown Walnut Creek. It first drew my eyes from its startlingly large human figure.

It depicts a woman in a red dress who seems to be admiring herself in the mirror. It kind of gives me “50’s movie starlet” vibes for some reason. The artist, Carla Gelbaum says she paints from her imagination using universal and whimsical themes. She says she likes to use the “infinite possibilities of life and the universe” to paint her pieces, and that she often uses vibrant, bold color themes.

 Those styles are readily apparent on this utility box, which also lists “Get Set” in tile at the bottom. This differentiates it from other “Get Set” pieces Gelbaum has done. All her work in that series is acrylic painting of females in red bathing suits who “look upon their world in a calm and reflective manner.” You can see more “Get Set” pieces here at Gelbaum’s website.

Gelbaum was raised in the Bay Area and has other pieces around the East Bay, including at John Muir in Walnut Creek. I really enjoy this utility box painting, as it gives me a calming, optimistic feeling for some reason. Have you seen it when you’re walking around downtown? If not, keep your eyes peeled!

Event Round-Up: April 21

We’re adding a new blog to the Saturday cycle, along with Art Town, Road Trips and Inspiration Saturday. Behold, our first version of Event Round-Up! Here, we’ll give you five of the best events around the Bay Area each month for the upcoming few weeks. If you go to any of them, let us know how you like the experience!

Grand Parade
Credit: https://sfcherryblossom.org/grand-parade/

Cherry Blossom Festival (San Francisco)

The annual San Francisco Cherry Blossom Festival in Japantown in San Francisco is already in full swing, but the biggest event – the Grand Parade on April 22 – is still to come tomorrow. It starts at Civic Center at 1 p.m. and ends in Japantown. It’s truly a can’t-miss event. And Kristi Yamaguchi is the Grand Marshal!

Memories That Make Us (Redwood City)

Through May 6, The Main Gallery in Redwood City is hosting “Memories That Make Us.” This art show is based on memories, which shape who we are in so many ways. The featured artists will touch on both the transient, fleeting moments of their lives and on the archetypes that permeate our culture. Check it out!

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Lyrid Meteor Shower (Everywhere)

The peak of the Lyrid Meteor Shower is supposed to occur with clear skies tonight, but will also be fully visible on April 22 from anywhere you can get a good vantage point. This shower dates back to 687 B.C., more than 2,700 years ago! This is a spectacle you simply can’t miss.
The Bubble Lady (Walnut Creek)
Next Saturday, April 28 from 3-4 p.m., The Bubble Lady will come to Walnut Creek and give you a perfect event to bring the kids to. Her interactive, bubble-filled adventure will be accompanied by music, laughter and artistry. For more information, you can check this link.
Guided Walking Tour (Walnut Creek)

Did you know that the Walnut Creek Historical Society leads a 90-minute guided walking tour downtown every 2nd Saturday from March through October? Now you know! It reveals early life in Walnut Creek and hidden parts of our town’s history. Tours are free and depart at 9:30 a.m. from the fountain at Liberty Bell Plaza (Broadway & Mt. Diablo). The next one is scheduled for May 12.

Road Trips: Albany Bulb

With this installation of Road Trips, we’re taking a bit more of a bohemian angle. Fittingly, we’ll be going just to the fringe of Berkeley, to the little town of Albany. It’s not for a park, or a theater, or anything like that. I’m actually recommending a visit to a landfill with a wild history and a ton of unique art.

In the late 1930’s, the creation of the Albany “Bulb” began. Land was leveled and moved around and pushed into the Albany peninsula for the creation of the racetrack at Golden Gate Fields. Over time, the land was protected by Save The Bay, and became somewhat of a lost project. For many years, the peninsula served as an occasional hiking and dog-walking spot, as well as being home to many local species of plants and animals.

Eventually, the Bulb became a homeless haven, with as many as 60 squatters living there before being evicted (some forcibly) by local authorities. While that population was on the Bulb, they created sculptures, and paintings, and even a makeshift library that has since been burned to the ground. But, today, it is still a sight to see: views of the Bay, art everywhere, unique traces of generations past.

For those who aren’t into the graffiti, wooden art or macabre feel (kinda feels like a scene from The Walking Dead), there is a beach nearby that dogs can be on without a leash. The Albany Bulb is a weird, exciting, confusing display of East Bay history.

You can easily spend half a day wandering its pathways and finding strange art from decades ago. Try going out there on a nice day, and you can always go back into Berkeley for a nice lunch or dinner on your way home!

Philz brings an energetic twist to WC coffee scene

In the plaza next to Genova Deli and CVS, the old Marie Callendar’s space has been overtaken and it couldn’t look any more different. Whereas Marie Callendar’s was your typical homey, but outdated diner, now the new space is full of color, music, art and mostly millennials sipping their craft coffee.

That’s right, the new coffee in town is Philz, a national chain that emphasizes creativity and friendliness at their locations. I went there recently and was amazed by how packed it was. In fact, it was difficult to even find parking in that massive lot because of it.

As with many coffee shops now, the walls in the sitting area were covered with art from a featured artist and the walls were as colorful as the baristas themselves. Between battling for tips (Destiny’s Child vs. TLC was the battle du jour on the tip jars when I was there), asking exactly what type of coffee I “felt like” so they could create the perfect concoction, and the sheer amount of joy they seemed to take in their work, I really had fun on my visit.

I ordered a Phil-tered Soul, and it was really delicious coffee. They take a little longer to make than most places because they only do pour-over coffee at Philz. Also, they have some small food items and pastries that looked delicious, I tried their zucchini bread – it had chocolate chips which I don’t particularly like with zucchini. I will go back but only on occasion!  Of course, as with all specialty coffee, they come with a hefty price tag of $3.95-$5.00 or more.

Art Town: Geological Evolution of Mt. Diablo

Most of the art we feature here are one-off pieces. This piece, however, is multiple independent parts that come together to form one. And it’s a dazzling recreation of one of the Bay Area’s most treasured jewels: Mt. Diablo. You can check it out by the Century Theaters downtown. Give a quick stroll before or after your next movie to see it!

You can see the cascading art from the top piece (above), to the first part of the next (below). It’s granite in stone, created by Doron Robinson in 2003, and represents the geological transformation of Mt. Diablo. What a cool piece! Follow along as Mt. Diablo is created from top to bottom (or, in geological terms, from bottom to top!).