It started off as a monthly art walk between eight galleries in 2006. Today, Oakland’s Art Murmur has exploded, drawing as many as 20,000 people to downtown for a vibrant street party featuring live performances, food trucks and more than 30 participating galleries and venues. We talk to the organizers of Art Murmur and First Friday about the event.

Danielle Fox, executive director of Oakland Art Murmur and owner of Slate Contemporary Gallery in Oakland
Samee Roberts, director of cultural arts and marketing for the City of Oakland
Eric Arnold, member of the communications team for Oakland's First Fridays, which organizes the vendors, performance artists and other events outside of the art galleries; freelance photojournalist

  • emily

    I think the current First Friday is amazing, yet unbelievable. I had gone to the first Art Murmur and the pre-Art Murmur. I had not gone for a while and went for July and August this year. I could not believe how much it has grown and how diverse it is. First Friday is really a celebration of the diversity and anarchy of Oakland. I hope it continues safely.

  • “Don’t feel safe” is codeword for bigotry, not about police.

    • Annmarie

      Sadly I know you are on to something here.

      • Having worked in downtown Santa Cruz (which has its own First Fridays) for several years, I had rather direct experience.

        No amount of talking about cops or statistics will assuage their fear, alas.

  • Jason

    Really?!… The first half of the Forum program dedicated to the celebration of a vibrant art community continuing to flourish in our beautiful east bay is dominated by talk of the need for increased police presence and whether or not the safety of the patrons can be sustained? shame on you Michael

    • erictremont

      Nothing good will ever be sustained in or near Oakland’s rougher neigborhoods until acts of horrific violence (which happen every week in Oakland in case you haven’t noticed), are significantly reduced. You must really be in denial if you think the art scene in Oakland can remain vibrant near high crime areas.

      • Events such as this that invite the community openly are the solution to crime problems, not the source or location of those crimes.

        • erictremont

          I don’t disagree with you, but I think you miss my point. It would be a challenge to stage an event like Art Murmur in (for example) the International Blvd. area of Oakland because that area is plagued by violent crime.

          • On one hand, yes, the businesses wouldn’t be there to anchor it. On the other hand, events such as this which are based in community and pride are generally the types of events that make for less crime.

            See, the thing is, sure, crime goes up as you pour more people into an area – that’s just a function of per capita – but the actual chance of being a victim of crime actually plummets. I don’t know why people don’t expect that – because of course more eyes to report crime and more hands to stop it and less distance to an officer or someone capable of stopping it will lower crime!

      • Science_is_Hard

        I agree with Crissa. This may be Oakland’s new night-time look.

  • Duane

    Please mention that the Oakland Public Conservatory of Music at 1616 Franklin Street in Oakland. There will be a special jazz performance by pianist Michelle Rosewoman honoring musician Ed Kelley. The show starts at 8:00PM

    • Duane

      This event is happening for First Fridays.

  • laura

    I have to weigh in here, I am a white woman who has frequented downtown Oakland for years and have never felt uncomfortable. I love downtown Oakland and love the people of Oakland. Art Murmur is a blast, such great energy and fun. Please stop mis representing Oakland Michael, it’s not “scary” it’s citizens are not scary and more importantly they know how to have a lot of fun. Oakland is a

  • Nate

    I hope the vibe of art murmur continues and is not pushed out by permitting, taxation, ‘crowd control’ and ‘security’ presence.
    Let it be and this creative community event will create positive change.

  • Annmarie

    I have to agree with laura and Jason. I am a 61 year old white woman who has attended many a Murmur and the thought of violent conflict never entered my head. It was quite surprising to me how Michael Krasny ,a man I very much admire, seemed to harp on the point of potential violence at this event.

  • JDx

    Art Murmur is an example of what is going right in Oakland !! Artists thrive on display of their work and we have a community that supports that ! As an artist/photographer who has lived in Oakland for over a decade I can only say thank you to those who have made it happen. If you can’t handle a crowd, stay home !

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