Kevin Clarke and Macarthur b Arthur

Kevin Clarke runs an excellent art space in North Oakland called Macarthur b Arthur. I visited him about a month ago when he asked me if I wanted to talk about the possibility of putting a show together. A few weeks later, here we are…Graphite! will premier oct.1, First Friday. Below, you can see him working on his piece for the show which will showcase artists’ work in Graphite. Click on the link on the right to find out more about the Graphite show. Below, Kevin explains the history of the Gallery. 

Obi: How did you come into this great space? 

Kevin: I had been looking for another place to do a gallery where I could live and curate shows for about a year. I had moved to Berkeley from San Francisco to focus on my own work but missed the community one is exposed to when living in a venue for visual art. I started a space in San Francisco called Million Fishes 7 years ago (Million Fishes has 16 resident artists living in at any one time) and really enjoyed living in a gallery and collaborating with artists but I needed a break to focus on my own work. After I felt sufficiently grounded in my own practices I got the jones for community and dialogue that comes from giving people the opportunity to show work. I found the space on Craiglist, but it needed a lot of love. MacArthur b arthur is also my home. I live in the back of the gallery and have my painting studio there as well. I love inviting people off the street inside when they are looking through the windows. It makes it easy to not separate art from life.

Obi: So, the Big Question: When and How did you come up with the great name, Macarthur B arthur?
Kevin: There are webs infrastructure funneling traffic and designating space all around Oakland like the MacArthur Freeway interchange casting shadows in my backyard, MacArthur BART around the corner, and MacArthur boulevard, a street level artery linking one end of Oakland to the other. All these places have the same name without a face, a forgotten history that is taken for granted as here, there, everywhere – oakland. I like the institutional ambiguity of the word MacArthur.
And Bea Arthur was a great gal.Have you ever met anyone who didn’t like Bea Arthur? 
Familiar and foreign it is a concrete anachronism combining place, identity, performance and art.MacArthur b arthur is generally here, as a home, and a venue, but specifically out there, not fitting neatly into the gallery category. It’s about the community created by pigment and light, and Bart. It’s about words and movement. It’s Dada.

Obi: At the corner of [Martin Luther King] and 40th, you are on the Urban Frontier. Between North Oakland and Downtown Oakland, you have a unique perspective on the Oakland Art scene. What do you think about it in general? What are your favorite galleries and what “scene” do you most identify with?
Kevin: The Oakland art scene is incredibly inspiring. There are so many motivated, talented young artists and curators to discuss ideas and projects with. Right now I feel like I could do this for ever. I love what’s happening at Royal NoneSuch, WE Artspace, and Sight School. I’ve developed a close relationship with the Co-Curators of Royal NoneSuch since I started MacArthur b arthur. Elizabeth Bernstein and Carrie Hott are two of the most interesting and inspiring artist/curators I’ve ever met.

I’m not sure what scene I identify with. I know I’m more interested in the spaces that are taking risks to show work that is not necessarily pretty, wont necessarily sell, and makes me think, hard.


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