Walking at Pt Richmond and Oakland Museum

We busted out of Sonoma County last Saturday and went to Pt Richmond and to the Oakland Museum in the East Bay. If you want a more typical walk, scroll down the post and read about Pt. Richmond. The Oakland Museum has some of Richmond’s history, so it is all tied together. Mike and I have a history in Richmond and Oakland too.

Oakland Museum

I’ve been going to the Oakland Museum since I came to California. The first exhibit I saw, over 30 years ago, was of Dorothea Lange’s pictures. The museum has a large collection of her work and now she has her own room with her storied black and white photos.

We went to the Art Gallery first, which is organized by Landscapes, People and Creativity. Not that the landscapes and people don’t have creativity.

The landscapes range from traditional Thomas Hill oils of Yosemite Valley to Wayne Thiebaud’s dizzying San Francisco streets. I sat for a time listening to an audio that helped to really look at Albert Bierstadt’s Yosemite Valley, not something I would normally do. And it wasn’t just because of the comfy chair.

In the People area, I was happy to revisit some Bay Area Figurative paintings. I adore David Park’s paintings. His figures appear crude, but they are skillfully painted. The figures stand like real people and I get that same sense from a Picasso drawing, so simple and yet so right.

After wondering not too well at conceptual art, I wandered into the “2000 + Rising” room. I loved a circular canvas and painted concentric circles by Don Suggs. I looked at the title before studying the painting well, but I could see Desmoiselles d’Avignon. It had the colors, if little else, of Picasso’s seminal painting of the same title.

Lastly, in this gallery, we sat for a time in the Lounge of Arts and Craft room enjoying the graceful natural art that evolved in the early 20th century in response to the industrialization of our country.

We took a break to explore the outside. The buildings of the Oakland Museum, in offset boxes and terraces, create a exciting place for this varied museum. I watched the grass grow. We compared the metal sculptures to the forms in the clouded sky and the hills of Oakland. There’s a wide view of Lake Merritt whose perimeter path is a good place for a flat walk – but that will be another day.

Next we went to the California History Gallery. It was more chronological, but echoed much of what we saw in the Art Gallery. At the entrance is a looped video on a large screen of constantly changing pictures of California. I don’t normally care for non-narrative videos, but the dual or multiple screen images that went through the landscapes, people, events and resources of California effectively displayed what and who we are.

In the main gallery, displays included Native peoples’ tools and crafts, including our own Sonoma County Pomo baskets. From there the displays covered early explorers Spanish and English, Missions, United States’ takeover, miners, railroad, land grab and on to the depression and WWII effort in the Bay Area. Here is the reflection of the work at the Richmond shipyards and the smiling women leaving work in Lange’s 1943 photo in the Art Gallery upstairs.

I think the museum has done a great job of portraying the diversity of land and people that make up California. The displays are lively with differing kinds of interaction for the museum-goer. Many young people were actually engaged in looking and participating and not wildly running from one exhibit to the next or whining about being bored. There are post-it displays for people to leave their own comments and information about California history and the museum is seeking things that express our more current history from 1975 on. You could even contribute.

Other stuff: We ate at the museum café, but there won’t be full service until July. There are lots of short steps in the museum. The elevators make all levels accessible and plenty of wheelchair users can tool around the galleries. The Natural Science Gallery will open in 2012.


Pt. Richmond

The air incredibly clear on Saturday we could see every building in San Francisco as we crossed the Richmond-San Rafael bridge over a sparkly green bay. We often stop in Pt Richmond on our way to the East Bay. (We first met at the Chevron refinery on the other side of the freeway.)

Today we took the first exit after the bridge and drove through the small downtown of Pt Richmond.  (Our wedding reception was at the Hotel Mac. Mike’s barber still works in town, 28 years later.) Normally, we would take Dornan Rd through the tunnel, but a tank car train blocked our way, so we went up and over the hill. Much of Pt Richmond’s old and new housing hangs on the hillsides.

On the bay side of Pt Richmond the parks and view open wide. From here is the Bay Area’s best vision of Mt. Tamalpais. We drove past Keller Beach and Miller Knox Park and stopped at Ferry Pt. There are almost 5 miles of trails along the water that will soon link to Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historic Park that includes Kaiser Shipyard 3.

Most of the trails are paved and flat, though you can go uphill across from the Miller Knox parking lot. These are part of the East Bay Regional Parks, the oldest and biggest regional park system in the country. When you think Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, you probably think lots of people, but 65 parks have 100,000 acres and 1100 miles of trails. When we first moved to Sonoma County, we missed what the East Bay parks had to offer.

We made a short loop of the paths by Ferry Pt. Other walkers were friendly; kids played on the rocks; a dog retrieved a soggy ball; men and boys fished; all enjoyed a sunny clear day by the bay, as did we.

Other: Yacht Club. Golden St Model Railroad Museum. Restaurants by the water and in town.

Lynn Millar

Photos by Mike Millar

meanwhile back to walking…

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