We here at the African American Museum and Library at Oakland believe that Black history should be celebrated every day however in the month of February we as a nation take time to focus on the contribution African Americans have made to their country and highlight accomplishments and achievements that are often omitted from the greater conversation of American history. This year the 2024 theme for African American History Month is African Americans and the Arts. Since it is AAMLO's mission to document and persevere the African American experience in Oakland, we wanted to take a moment to acknowledge some of Oakland's Black Art Galleries both past and present.
It would be remiss not to start this blog not mentioning the late Mr. Samuel Fredericks the owner of Samuel's Gallery. Until is passing in 2013 Samuel operated the longest surviving African American art gallery in the Bay Area. Some of us can still remember the beautifully curated storefront in Jack London Square. Samuel's Gallery served as an essential part of Oakland's African American community, not only did he's gallery promote well renowned Black artist but it also introduced new and local artist into the national seen. Mr. Fredericks has left behind a legacy showing the importance of positive images of self.
The Thelma Harris Art Gallery has been specializing in contemporary African American art for over 30 years. With passion and purpose Thelma Harris has dedicated her life to serving the Oakland community by educating art collectors and art lovers of all ages and backgrounds about the beauty of Black art. The Thelma Harris Art gallery has served as a cultural institution providing a much-needed platform for up and coming and established African American artists. Many of the artist that she has featured in her gallery have received national attention.
Address: 5940 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618
Phone: (510) 654-0443
The Joyce Gordon Gallery is nestled in the heart of downtown Oakland and recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. The Joyce Gordon Gallery features multi-media African American art ranging from sculpture, original art and reprints. The gallery has become a beacon of Black culture in the city of Oakland and the owner has become a cultural icon. For the past two decades Joyce Gordon has dedicated herself to building community through arts. In 2017 she received an Arts leadership award from the Alameda County Arts Commission. The Gallery has hosted over 200 exhibitions and programmed events over the years including poetry, dance, theatre, lectures, and more.
Address: 406 14th St Oakland, CA 94612
The Alena Museum combines art and activism with no apologies! The Alena Museum is a "501(c)3 nonprofit with the mission of providing critical safe spaces for the African Diaspora to express and cultivate their cultural identity in the face of gentrification". The Alena Museum is one of the newest art spaces within the city of Oakland but in a short time it has made a large impact. Rooted in West Oakland, this small but mighty organization is fully committed to Oakland's Black community and representation. Alena Museum aims to use public art activism to dismantle systems anti Blackness and White supremacy. The museum mission also includes providing mentorship and resources to support Black creative expression.
Address: 2725 Magnolia Street, Oakland, CA 94609
Once located in the Impact Hub in downtown Oakland, the Omi Gallery offered a safe space for Black artisans and creatives. The gallery closed in 2018 but the founder Ashara Ekundayo has launched a new venture the Ashara Ekundayo Gallery. The new gallery "is a radical Black feminist arts & culture platform that exclusively showcases contemporary and new media works by Black womxn." The new exhibit space is located in downtown
Ashara Ekundayo Gallery
From Oakland, Calif to the pages of Essence the Betti Ono Gallery has been listed as one of the top destinations to visit in the city. Centrally located between Oakland's emerging Black Arts District and Uptown this gallery continues its mission to "build power through culture". For almost 14 years the Betti Ono Gallery has enriched the community and the art world by promoting both emerging and established artist. Anyka Barber the founder of the Betti Ono gallery is an Oakland native and designed this space to not only display art but to address the social-political issues within the city, the art world and her community. She has described Betti Ono as an "experimentally minded space for art, culture and community".