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Review: Vinyl, Giant Robot, and Butterfly for Oakland

Art exhibitions at the Oakland Museum of California


In a span of about a week, three new exhibitions opened up at the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA). And there were plenty of interesting things to see from each of them.

First up is Vinyl: The Sound and Culture of Records. The exhibition felt like a “free-for-all”, where visitors can come and sample a range of vinyl records, with genres spanning to punk to soul, hip-hop to experimental. The crates of albums, the turntables, and the big pillows across the floor, gives this exhibition both a chilled atmosphere, as well as a trip back in time, where vinyl was one of the modern ways to hear music, before CDs or even MP3s. Also included were photos of record enthusiasts and their collectors, as well as a big chalkboard to write a little message or two. This is definitely an exhibition to play catch up on a cultural phenomenon, reminds us why stores like Rasputin is so important.

Next is SuperAwesome: Art and Giant Robot, which commemorates the 20th anniversary of the alternative magazine. Going into the exhibition, one would see the collection of colorful robots, as advertised on OMCA’s website, and of course highlights of the magazine, such as notable covers and issues. There were also works from contemporary artists. One of the best ones was James Jean, and his red, abstracted drawing of a hand, bowel and foot. But perhaps the biggest feature of this exhibition, was the custom designed Scion XB, which surprisingly (if this would be the first time seeing it) had a slot where a game cartridge would go.

Finally there was Judy Chicago’s A Butterfly in Oakland. This took place at OMCA’s California Gallery, on a slideshow. Of course, this was the presentation of the artist’s 1974 installation of a butterfly near Oakland’s Lake Merritt. It showed everything from the installation to its lighting, and just seeing the photos was awe-inspiring. The fireworks going off turn the scenery of Lake Merritt fiery, smoky, and beautiful. And because the installation took place in 1974, there was also a lot of 1970s fashion, as well as insight of what Oakland looked like.

Giant Robot and Vinyl is on view until July 27th. The Judy Chicago exhibition is up until November 30th.