Oakland Art Murmur began as an acknowledgment by eight arts spaces located in the Northgate and Temescal neighborhoods that a cooperative effort to promote the arts in the region would garner more attention for their individual visual art programs.
This led to the first First Friday Art Walk in January 2006, when all participating spaces (which then included 21 Grand, 33 Grand, Auto 3321, Boontling Gallery, Buzz Gallery, Ego Park, Front Gallery, and Rock Paper Scissors Collective) held concurrent receptions. The gallery walk grew over the years, and Oakland Art Murmur now includes over fifty galleries and mixed-use art spaces throughout the City of Oakland.
Along side Oakland Art Murmur’s First Friday gallery walk, a popular street festival known as Oakland First Fridays has also evolved, which includes street performances, food and craft vending, one-night art installations, receptions and shows at art venues who are not associated with OAM. This event is currently managed by Oakland First Fridays with infrastructure support from KONO, City of Oakland, and Uptown CBDs. Together, Oakland First Fridays and Oakland Art Murmur attract up to 20,000 pedestrians, bicyclists, BART riders and car-poolers from across the Bay Bridge and beyond the Caldecott tunnel on that one evening a month.
With First Friday so successful, the OAM organization has turned its energies to bringing visitors to the galleries on other evenings and days, raising awareness about Oakland’s galleries and artists among audiences outside of Oakland, and building relationships with other cultural institutions and patrons, both in Oakland and beyond. In 2017 OAM reached a milestone, with more than 1,000,000 participants attending OAM events and programs since our humble beginnings. We’ve connected the public to the work of thousands of artists and hundreds of Oakland art exhibits.