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Pass the Mic
Annie Tittiger | Photo: Courtesy Eddie Colla; Rian Dundon; Warlock; Roger Molkey; Meg Allen; Andria Lo; Odell Hussey; Terry Furry; Brett Amory; Kevin Tomson; Nathaniel Parsons; Crown; Hogarth; Broadway Books; Martin; Van Landingham; Nicole Browner; Obi Kaufmann; Matt Decker; Jon Carling | June 17, 2014
Or the brush, or the can, or the pen. We asked five hot Oakland art-makers to tell us who inspires them most within city limits. The result: a 25-person round-robin of artistic genius found only here.
Editor's Note: This is one of many dispatches from Oakland that San Francisco magazine is publishing over the next month, all part of our June "Oakland Issue." To see the rest of the issue's contents, and to read stories as they become available online, click here.
Eddie Colla Street Artist
Known for wheat-pasted and stenciled images evoking a gritty revolution on walls and freeways, Colla’s work has also been displayed at the Democratic National Convention, the presidential inauguration, and countless galleries.
Rian Dundon Photographer
Colla says: “Rian’s work is about seeing and storytelling. He works in such a succinct manner that you become engaged and invested in the subject.”
Reggie Warlock Street Artist
Dundon says: “Reggie nods to the traditions of graffiti while branching out into new artistic territory. He’s remained relevant and prevalent in a town that’s saturated in all forms of street art.”
Warlock says: “L’Roneous has over two decades’ worth of music under his belt, and every project gets better. This man is the truth.”
Ernest Doty Street Artist
L’Roneous says: “I tend to focus on three facets of street art: style, technical skill, and activity. Doty has mastered them all with his larger-than-life imaginative characters and his trademark birds popping up in all areas of the town.”
Meg Allen Photographer
Allen’s new series, Butch, which explores the aesthetic of women who dare to step outside the gender binary, caught the eye of national media outlets—and the French!—for its delicate juxtaposition of femininity and masculinity.
Greg Hoffman Musician
Allen says: “Greg is this phenomenal piano player who lives in my girlfriend’s building. When he plays, it just overwhelms me—he plays with every molecule he’s made of.”
Zahra Noorbakhsh Comedian
Hoffman says: “Zahra has the bravery and ability to use humor to address issues facing Muslim women in terms of their sexuality. It’s not often that you find an artist who handles such controversial subjects and makes audiences think and laugh throughout.”
Sabiha Basrai Graphic Designer
Noorbakhsh says: “Sahbi uses her artistic superpowers for hard-core good! She volunteered to do the layout for the Totally Radical Muslims Zine, belongs to design action, and is an active member of the alliance of South Asians taking action. Clearly, superpowers.”
Nisha Sembi Street Artist
Basrai says: “Nisha brings together hip-hop, Punjabi culture, Indian Bollywood, and graffiti. I am so impressed by her mastery of classical Mehndi design and her bold use of spray paint. Nisha is fierce!”
Terry Furry Painter
With its flair for the provocative, Furry’s Intimate Strangers exhibit showcases the male body as a thing of beauty, gently toeing the line between art and erotica. And on top of that, Furry also serves as an adviser to Art Murmur.
Brett Amory Painter
Furry says: “Brett documents troubled, everyday, lonely people who inhabit equally emotionally isolated environments. He creates scenes that I feel I pass every day but never really see.”
Kevin Thomson Musician and Photographer
Amory says: “From his playing and writing music to his moody, heartfelt photography, Kevin was chosen by art. He really doesn’t have a choice.”
Lexa Walsh Performance Artist
Thomson says: “Lexa taught me what being involved with an artistic community really means. It’s incredibly inspiring to see an artist who is so giving of herself.”
Nathaniel Parsons Painter and Sculptor
Walsh says: “Nathaniel just makes and makes and makes with a skilled hand of whimsy, narrative, and nostalgia.”
Anthony Marra Writer
Marra’s debut novel (and instant bestseller), A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, is a meticulously researched story about war-riddled Chechnya that had the New York Times drooling over the recent Stanford Stegner Fellow last spring.
Hugh Martin Poet
Marra says: “Hugh, a veteran and poet, takes us beneath statistical abstraction and the headlines of the war in Iraq: a dead dog is sealed in a body bag to prevent it from being used as an IED; a patrol comes upon a swarm of camel spiders copulating in the moonlight. These servings of the surreal demand that the reader witness the complexities and paradoxes of a war.”
Christopher Kempf Writer and Poet
Martin says: “Chris is that rare ambidextrous writer who pumps out incredible poems and essays with an outstanding balance of sophistication, precision, and humor, whether the subject is the bombing of the Boston marathon—in which he competed—or dating on OkCupid.”
Jacques Rancourt Writer and Poet
Kempf says: “Jacques’s sequence of poems Covenant uses Biblical mythology as an allegory for the AIDS epidemic. His writing explores those points where the self is sutured, sometimes fitfully, to the culture and the systems of rhetoric of which it’s a part.”
Corey Van Landingham Poet
Rancourt says: “Corey transforms loss into a wilderness where owls crash into windows. Antidote, her first book, is charged with an otherworldliness driven by grief. Few poets’ work addresses the big questions with such grace, beauty, and honesty.”
Glenn Jackson Musician
Part of the synth-pop duo James and Evander, Jackson is a frequent performer at Noise Pop Festival and the proprietor of the local music blog and label Mapzzz, producing other blooming Oakland electronic artists.
Hunter Mack Producer
Jackson says: “Every burgeoning music scene needs a Hunter Mack. His label, Gold Robot, has supported a number of our city’s music makers, often giving artists their first chance at a physical vinyl product.”
Obi Kaufmann Artist
Mack says: “Obi is a general champion of all things creative. He’s one of many important nodes to the Oakland scene, an amoebic amalgamation of disparate people trying to build something unique and transformative.”
Matt Decker Tattoo Artist
Kaufmann says: “Matt, the owner of premium tattoo on Broadway, is a tireless worker and a brilliant self-taught painter. He’s a Renaissance man who always wears a smile.”
Jon Carling Illustrator
Decker says: “Jon’s work is like something you would see if you made it through the black hole. It’s Edward Gorey meets H. G. Wells.”
Originally published in the June issue of San Francisco.