MAKING POLITICAL ART: Expression of a Movement

Art in Oakland and the Greater Bay Area has long been a tool for activism—from political posters to social movements. In this first speaker event of Oakland Art Murmur’s new series, we ask important questions about the confluence of art and politics, such as ‘How do deep divisions in our political scene affect the way we view art today?’ ‘Should we perceive political art differently; and if so, through what lens?’

Following the presentation, attendees are invited to meet the artists and panel moderator, mingle with other audience members, and delve deeper into the evening’s topic—all while enjoying some of Royal Coffee’s finest. Join in stimulating discussion and meet other Oakland art lovers!

Wednesday, June 5th, from 6pm – 8pm

The Crown: Royal Coffee Lab & Tasting Room

 2523 Broadway, Oakland, California.


TICKETS: $15 in advance, $20 at the door


Featured Arts Professionals

Hear the insights and experience of three artists who make political statements through their artistic media that comment upon or promote change to the status quo.

Mark Harris, Panelist

Mark Harris, award-winning artist, activist, and educator combines passions for art-making and activism, creating a unique visual vocabulary and engaging audiences on
critical issues facing society today. Having established a strong, independent voice, Harris is one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s most controversial artists, with The Metro Silicon Valley News calling his work “brilliantly subversive.”

Harris’ expanded practice includes mentoring at-risk youth through art education programs and teaching art at schools including Lycée Français de San Francisco and Yang Fan Academy. He has worked with the ArtSpan Youth Open Studios program as an Artist Mentor in San Francisco. In 2017 Harris received the Teacher 4 Social Justice award.

Harris’ evocative, elegant and dynamic creations have caught the eye of international and domestic art collectors alike. A native of Durham, N.C., Harris grew up in Atlanta, Ga., and now resides in San Francisco.

Sawyer Rose, Panelist

Sawyer Rose is a sculpture, data visualization, and social practice artist. Throughout her career, Sawyer has used her artwork to shine a spotlight on contemporary social issues, such as The Carrying Stones Project which addresses women’s work inequity. Sawyer co-curated the 2019 exhibition titled F213 with the Northern California Women’s Caucus for Art curatorial collective. The exhibition spotlights powerful artistic expressions of feminist protest, with 50 artists paired with 50 writers offering their responses to current injustices. She has been a resident artist at MASS MoCA, Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture in San Francisco, Vermont Studio Center, Ragdale Foundation, and The Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland. She has been awarded merit grants from The Creative Capacity Fund, The Awesome Foundation, Vermont Studio Center, and Sawyer is President of the Northern California Women’s Caucus for Art.

Victor D. Cartagena, Panelist

Victor D. Cartagena is a multidisciplinary visual artist born in El Salvador and based in San Francisco, California. Cartagena has exhibited his work in solo and group exhibitions in the United States and internationally at the San Jose Museum of Art, Richmond Arts Center, the UC Berkeley Art Museum, the Oakland Museum, MACLA/Center for Latino Arts, and Pan Projects in Miami. Internationally, his work has been seen in Mexico, Japan, El Salvador, Cuba, Belarus, Ecuador, Argentina, Spain, France and Greece. Cartagena is the recipient of numerous grants, fellowships and awards, including those from Creative Capital, the Wattis Foundation, Fund for Creative Work, the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the San Francisco Arts Commission. Cartagena’s work is in numerous private and institutional collections, including the MOLAA-Latino Art Museum in Long Beach, California; Cara and Cabezas in Kansas City, Missouri; the Contemporary Museum in Honolulu, Hawaii; and the Macedonian Museum of Thessaloniki, Greece. Victor Cartagena collaborates with San Jose Museum of Art in San Jose, California; TinT Gallery in Greece; and Pan American Art Projects in Miami, Florida.

Jeff Kelley, Panel Moderator/Facilitator

Oakland resident Jeff Kelley has been a practicing art critic since 1977, writing reviews and essays for such publications as Artforum, Art in America, and the Los Angeles Times. From 1993 – 2005 he taught Art Theory and Criticism at the University of California, Berkeley. Kelley was also the Consulting Curator of Contemporary Art at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco from 1998 – 2008, where he developed the museum’s contemporary exhibitions and publications programs. During the past several years, he has written for Artforum about internationally known artist and activist Ai Weiwei, and has contributed essays on Liu Xiaodong to catalogs for the Mary Boone Gallery in New York and the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing. He recently completed a book-length essay on the paintings of Martin Mull, and for the past several years has conducted interviews with artist John Mason for an upcoming book on his work and career to be published by Scripps College.

(additional speakers to be announced)


This series is designed to engage the public with artists and art professionals in lively conversations that: make the visual art world more approachable; spark dialog with others interested in art; provide an intimate understanding of local artists; and explore emerging trends in the art world and the local art scene. Held in intimate settings across Oakland neighborhoods, participants are able to learn about art and artists’ work on a deeper level.

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