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Goings on at the Because We Cannery

Oakland Museum of California - Birth of the Cool Show

Yesterday we enjoyed an afternoon at the Oakland Museum of California. Just like most things Oakland, most of the Bay Area only vaguely knows about it and has never been there. And, like most things Oakland, it's awesomely great. First off, they have great shows. The current one is no exception, it's called 'The Birth of the Cool'. It's all about the pivotal role California-based artists and designers played in the late-fifties early-sixties, when the whole concept of 'cool' came into being. It's a wonderfully arranged show with many original pieces from many famous Californians, the Eames included (of course). Had no idea that they designed a line of speakers (which looked awesome). The second half of the show is called 'Cool Remixed' and it's a celebration of current youth culture and art in the Bay Area. They are having a big event on July 11th as well, with bands and artists and all sorts of cool stuff. Yesterday we enjoyed an afternoon at the Oakland Museum of California. Just like most things Oakland, most of the Bay Area only vaguely knows about it and has never been there. And, like most things Oakland, it's awesomely great.

First off, they have great shows. The current one is no exception, it's called 'The Birth of the Cool'. It's all about the pivotal role California-based artists and designers played in the late-fifties early-sixties, when the whole concept of 'cool' came into being. It's a wonderfully arranged show with many original pieces from many famous Californians, the Eames included (of course). Had no idea that they designed a line of speakers (which looked awesome). The second half of the show is called 'Cool Remixed' and it's a celebration of current youth culture and art in the Bay Area. They are having a big event on July 11th as well, with bands and artists and all sorts of cool stuff.

Second, it's a neat building. It was one of the last buildings done by one of my favorite modernist Architects, Eero Saarinen (it was finished by one of his successors, Kevin Roche, and is typically accredited to him). It was quite an honor to have that set of drawings on my desk when I worked for Mark Cavagnero Associates and we were doing some redesign and master planning for the OMoC. The entire roof is a huge stepped outdoor garden, with much to explore and many sculptures, the classic brutalist concrete structure is softened greatly by all the trees and plans growing on the roof and around the structure, and the huge Koi pond is a delight.

Third, what's also a delight is the Restaurant there. Unlike many museum restaurants, it's neither expensive nor stingy in servings. We enjoyed a pair of nice, huge, tasty salads on the roof deck in the Oakland sun. It's a small thing, true, but it does make for an awesome afternoon.

Best of all, the OMoC is part of a group of affiliated museums, which means if you join at an supporter level you get to go to all these other museums for free. Like the De Young, The Legion, and Yerba Buena in S.F. and a ton of museums in NYC. So what are you waiting for?

Jeffrey McGrew