Precious, resilient and stable, GOLD celebrates the creativity of the Werkshack artists with new work made this year! The pandemic challenges could have been devastating to any studio spaces, but these artists persisted and supported each other. Not one was lost to the pandemic. They were all able to stay and flourish in their creative endeavors.
The Werkshack is a shared workspace currently shared by 10 resident makers studios. The front gallery and retail space features rotating art exhibitions by guest artists, apparel, home goods, and jewelry.
The leaseholder of the space is Myrrhia Resneck, who runs a fine knitwear business. This year she has cultivated more artistic creative endeavors to exhibit, which are included in GOLD. As the Werkshack studio manager, Myrrhia generously gave free and discounted rent at the beginning of the pandemic.
Against fear and uncertainty, and in support of her artists' careers, Christine Ferrouge curated very successful shows of art by local emerging artists in the Werkshack Gallery. Despite restrictions and social distancing, which were carefully followed, Jan Watten and Dulama LeGrande's solo shows were two of the most successful shows since 2018 when the gallery came under Ferrouge's leadership. These shows uplifted the creative community on 25th Street and across Oakland. It also generated much needed income for the artists and the Werkshack members.
Also at the Gallery this year, resident artist Olivia A. Carter had her first solo show at the Werkshack. While the world seemed to be falling down around her, Carter persevered and created an installation work in the gallery. Another Dream Portal was made from the artist's collection of carefully curated objects and collage drawings. Carter's narrative reflects the zeitgeist of the time as one missing and longing for someone or a time now passed.
In the heat and quiet of the 2020 summer, resident artist Yoni Matatyaou had one of the most beautiful painting shows our gallery has ever seen. Unfortunately attendance was low, as restrictions were followed. Matatyaou is an exceedingly skilled painter and his work is much anticipated in the GOLD exhibition.
Holly Bobisuthi primarily uses bronze, but her favorite material is gold. Despite the closing of multiple galleries that represented her jewelry across the country, Bobisuthi continued to make sales from her dedicated local collectors and Saturday Stroll visitors in Oakland. Bobisuthi also used the year to focus on studio time and develop her metalwork in new ways, especially in unique stones.
Jessica Jenkins melds anatomy and supernatural forces into puzzling juxtapositions and realistic inconsistencies. Enduring through the pandemic, Jenkins applied their masterful drawing skills to tattoo art training. GOLD includes their drawing and paintings.
Something unique about the Werkshack is the variety of goods that are designed and made in the space including three small business owners that work primarily in textiles and apparel. Platinum Dirt, GDS, and Kosa will not be participating in the art show, but it is important to note that they contribute greatly to the spirit and camaraderie of the space.
Platinum Dirt, by Dustin Paige, designs a plethora of apparel including jackets made from recycled leather, unique bags that transform. This year he designed the best fashionable, functional and comfortable masks.
Another special member of Werkshack is GDS cloth goods by Geana Sieburger. Her aprons, Ebb coffee filters and other apparel are ethically and sustainably made. She does not consider herself a fine artist, but her sense of design is flawless and inspiring.
The studio gained a member during 2020. Following the closure of her shop, Elaine Hamblin moved her fashion design studio into the Werkshack. Her company, Kosa, offers meticulously designed and crafted apparel.
Interdisciplinary artist Emily Ritchie is one of the newest Werkshack members. This last year allowed her to explore new directions in visual art and develop exciting new music videos. For GOLD, Richie will be showcasing samples of her illustrated writing.
Emily Ritchie joined the studio seeking creative community right before the pandemic hit. Oakland Art Murmur was as supportive as they could be virtually, but with First Friday canceled, a huge damper was put on public interaction. The Werkshack artists could have been devastated financially and defeated in spirit. It was a huge loss emotionally for everyone, but Emily Ritchie refused to let go of her vision. She repeatedly organized supportive critique groups for the artists in the studio. Out of those socially distanced meetings came encouragement and inspiration. GOLD is a sparkling celebration of a creative year-survived.
Come see GOLD and get to know the artists at the Werkshack in their first group show!