Shipping containers launch artistic enclave in Oakland

April 14, 2017 - garden totes

Shipping containers launch artistic enclave in Oakland

April 13, 2017

  • A travel perspective of MacArthur Annex, a sell formidable of 33 refashioned shipping containers by engineer Matt Baran, who worked with owners and developer Caleb Inman to emanate a compound. Photo: Liz Hafalia, The Chronicle




A deftly configured purchase of 33 easily used shipping containers has found a new home in a shade of a Grove Shafter Freeway, usually a retard west of a MacArthur BART station. Stacked 3 stories high and faced west and south for limit light and air, MacArthur Annex feels like a happy hybrid while reflecting a Oakland locality during a vicious juncture.

Amid a arise of a Temescal and Uptown neighborhoods — and descending rents and fears of gentrification — a annex’s twenty-seven 150-square-foot spaces have turn storefronts, offices and studios for entrepreneurs, artists and writers, during comparatively affordable prices. Meanwhile, a eco-friendly construction embodies a suggestion of artistic reuse and a area’s history.


“The approach we always consider about it is, a pier is right there,” says engineer Matt Baran, who worked with owners and developer Caleb Inman to emanate a compound, that rolled out final fall. “If we expostulate anywhere in Oakland, you’re always confronted by containers, possibly on a backs of trucks or installed onto ships.

“My neighbor has a Victorian, and a man down a travel has a Victorian, though instead you’re joining to a context that has these maybe some-more apart connections. You’re looking during a incomparable picture.”

The plan is also holding a counterpart adult to a artistic category anticipating a feet amid a city’s seismic shifts. Yes, a apparatus overlooks a newly non-stop drink garden and pizza spot, Arthur Mac’s Tap Snack, a curtsy to a likewise situated San Francisco institution, Zeitgeist (and co-helmed by a same Farm League organisation that runs Uptown’s extravagantly renouned Drake’s Dealership). MacArthur Annex also harbors some of a DIY passion and artistic appetite that’s fueled a Bay Area song and art stage given a ’00s.

The same low-key, like-minded accessible fad sparked by indie co-ops, backyard residence parties and pop-up art openings was in a atmosphere during a annex’s Second Sundays open studio, song and art eventuality in February.

Kids in brightly colored sunglasses slouched outward a apparatus as a No Worries food lorry served adult vegan Filipino platters subsequent to Rolling Sloane’s mount offered cocktail tarts and pecan cake slices. In a yard inside, visitors plucked ’60s sundresses and ’80s dolman-sleeve knits from Ringo Vintage’s racks and sniffed candles in Foggy Notion, a apothecary owned by former Vetiver cellist and photographer Alissa Anderson.

Near a list of goodies raffled off as an ACLU benefit, neighbors checked out a sculptural works by Kristina Lewis in a space common by Small Works and Sweeney/Kaye Gallery. Listeners watched from a floors unaware a yard as internal rope Never Young generated waves of shoegaze cocktail below. It felt like an indie paradise in a making, forgetful in solar-powered, sustainably built boxes. While some of a faces were familiar, others were new. Here are some of a some-more genre-bending tenants of MacArthur Annex.

Contact Records

Politicized, ardent and veterans of internal bands Grass Widow and Trainwreck Riders, respectively, Hannah Lew and Andrew Kerwin know a measure — and a married San Francisco locals were assured they’d never get to live a Bay Area dream.

“For years now, we’ve been feeling like all is out of a reach, and all these people with a ton of income are environment adult a model we can’t exist in. Then this came about,” says Lew of a 19-by-7½-foot space that houses their store, Contact Records. “It feels a small dystopian to be in a shipping container. Is this what we can unequivocally means in 2017 in a Bay Area?”

Thanks to subsidized rent, a span were means to open a initial storefront during a annex, and judging by a smiling regulars and business flipping by a vinyl during a new Second Sundays, it’s holding a possess simply by portion adult what a owners love.

The Sheer Mag, Big Star, Kleenex and Liliput LPs, and general cocktail obscurities, in a front window announce Lew and Kerwin’s fascinations. Between a crammed, multilevel bins of vinyl, a rakishly slanted shelf of cassettes and a turntable listening station, they enclosure a lot of register into a sunlit space.

Their usually conditions: The LPs have to be in good figure and a song has to be good. Otherwise they lift each genre, creation certain to stagger in gems like, say, a peculiar Beatles “Butcher” cover. And Lew’s unapproachable that they can support to a neighborhood’s sentimental old-timers as good as indie nerds and kick makers acid for uninformed samples, all while offered their collectibles during satisfactory prices.

They’d been stockpiling LPs for years before they schooled of a annex. Quitting their jobs during 1-2-3-4 Go! Records in S.F. and Oakland, they embarked on an epic cross-country record-digging outing opposite a Midwest to accumulate even some-more inventory.

“We kind of have a oppulance of usually carrying things we trust in,” says Lew, who also plays in Cold Beat and releases song by bands like Tropic Green. “We don’t have to lift Taylor Swift records.”

Lower Grand Radio

Unity was in a atmosphere upstairs during MacArthur Annex during Lower Grand Radio in February.

Next to a compress broadcasting setup — read: a mixer and laptop — friends toting skateboards checked out an vaunt of candy-colored decks embellished with cuddling bare dudes combined by Unity Skateboarding’s Jeffrey Cheung. Meanwhile, Alex Shen, who runs a Internet radio station, was offered mixtapes and giving divided copies of Everybody Sk8s, a zine filled with anecdotes from “badazz womxn/non-cis-male skateboarders and rollerbladers.”

Everybody was on a same page that day, Shen explains after by email, while on debate in Japan with his band, Meat Market, and his organisation with Cheung, also called Unity.

“Jeffrey has always been into skateboarding though felt like a common enlightenment around it lacks a participation of odd identity. Unity skateboarding has been an opening for him to mix portrayal and skateboarding while bringing people together to do something most like Lower Grand Radio, though a vigour of outward regulations,” Shen says of his space mates. “Just get together with friends and do something certain and affirming — set a bar as high as we want. Maybe no bar during all, we know what we mean?”

Shen started his Internet radio plan after volunteering during KALX and DJing for UC Santa Cruz’s KZSC. It seemed like a ideal approach to keep bustling and accommodate new people.

“There are so many people doing radio streams with mythological programming around a world, though it did feel unequivocally good to do it from my windowless garage and go live whenever it felt right.”

His mission, like that of a best open radio, is centered around his village — and free-form, uncensored mobile programming Anyone can DJ for Lower Grand—whether they’re a crony like Andrew Oswald, who runs Secret Bathroom Recording Studio, or teenagers during a Oakland Public Library, where Shen works. Techno, dance hall, funk, metal, women’s issues — all are permitted. (The shows are archived during

“I consider as we get older, it is easy for your universe and village to get smaller,” Shen continues. “I suspicion formulating a space for people to hang out and share song with, potentially, an gigantic volume of people, or anyone with an Internet connection, would be unequivocally cool.”

The Hanged Man Co.

Foraging florist, clairvoyant and printmaker Matthew Drewry Baker clearly believes in magic, both “within and without,” as he puts it on Instagram.

His MacArthur Annex studio and emporium is an countenance of that belief. Baker has remade his enclosure space into a extravagantly regretful valuables box with witchy, low blue-green walls rhetorical with selected redolence bottles and other treasures and presided over by rambling masses of jasmine churned with freesia and calla lilies, all drawn from friends’ Bernal Heights gardens or foraged from a edges of bustling byways.

“I consider a lot of florists disremember fennel, for instance, by a turnpike and in a cracks of a trail — it grows to such an generous height,” Baker says. “Passion vine — there’s a outrageous lot by a side of a Bernal Heights turnpike that doesn’t go to anyone and nobody cares about.

“We live in a Bay Area and there’s so most beauty,” he adds. “We don’t have to indispensably fly flowers out of Holland. Why use pesticides and poison? we try to fodder and reap as most as we can myself since a lot of farmed things are too true adult and down, too perfect, anyway. we wish it to resemble how things naturally grow in a wild, not a product of agribusiness. we wish things that are a bizarre figure or have their possess movement.”

At a new Mar Second Sundays event, branches of yellow mustard blossoms and nasturtium hail strangers during a door. Boughs of plum and Michelia Magnolia float nearby a doorway nearby moon calendars by artist crony Annie Axtel.

Beneath a cumulus cloud of dusty hydrangeas, Baker — glowing in a robust straw hat, striped tank, strings of beads, and bluish and china bangles and rings — is giving tarot readings on a lace-layered table. I’ve always suspicion a Tower and Five of Wands cards were bad news, though required interpretations tumble divided in Baker’s fortune-telling sessions, in a approach that feels deeply intuitive.

Flowers and prediction “correlate weirdly,” Baker muses. “When you’re foraging, walking around and pushing around and looking to see what’s flourishing wild, we make mental maps of your area. It’s identical when you’re profitable courtesy to what’s going on with yourself and a energy. You make mental maps and it’s some-more about profitable courtesy and being unequivocally observant.”

Inspired and tutored by his gardening, tarot-reading mother, as good as former employer and “Foraged Flora” author Louesa Roebuck, a Martinez-bred Baker started a Hanged Man Co. 3 years ago.

Baker also creates rune symbol-embellished talismans and linocut cards, that developed from his sketch and printmaking studies during a Academy of Art University.

Florimancy, of course, plays into his prediction work — and he’s been study a mislaid denunciation of flowers for a array of prediction dinners to start this spring. “My label is a Hanged Man — a label that’s good for my business,” he offers. “It’s about stealing yourself from a thick of things and honing your instincts, regulating movement by inaction, permitting things to come to we and guileless you’ll be on a right path.

“There’s something about nature, a floral arrangements, and not perplexing to force it, vouchsafing a bend that’s so bizarre foreordain to me. we use it as an fan and not something to quarrel against.”

Kimberly Chun is an East Bay freelance writer. Email:

Ship this

MacArthur Annex harbors tenants trimming from Robin Sloan, best-selling author of “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore,” to pop-up emporium Doublewood Denim. Look for these makers and shopkeepers:

Aloeswood Beauty: Wild-crafted, organic plant products are during a core of aesthetician, bodywork specialist, yoga clergyman and nutritive manager Christy Swenson’s practice. The Alaskan-born, self-described healer offers facials, dry-skin brushing, prohibited stones, cupping, Tibetan scalp massage and feet reflexology. No. 301.

Foggy Notion:
Local song watchers got an eyeful of owners Alissa Anderson’s rope photos and manuscript art during a ’00s. Now her emporium (its moniker calls behind to a Velvet Underground tune) gives we a image of Bay Area and Cali crafters in a form of organic skin care, ceramics, totes and backpacks, honey, kitchen products and fragrance, along with pop-up appearances by Have Company zine and book concern. No. 102.

La Loba:
The name hints during a aged souls behind these almighty pieces. Beth Naumann of Oakland’s Hellbent hand-makes draped coronet and border collar necklaces, jewelry, hairpins and sculptural mobiles, since internal engineer Gina Di Girolamo strives for palliate and morality of form in her silk, linen and hand-dyed rayon tops and dresses. No. 103.

Sweeney Kaye/Small Works Oakland: Women artists are a 2017 concentration during this compress gallery common by Sweeney Kaye and Small Works Oakland. No. 108.

Waterandstone and Stace Fulwiler: California College of a Arts instructor Amy Morrell formed a confidant geometric curves of her latest mini collection of hand-forged coronet pendants on a tellurian form. Expect handmade leather sandals, slides and clogs by Stace Fulwiler during this common showroom, open during Second Sundays. No. 107.;

MacArthur Annex: 644 40th St., Oakland.,


Contact Records:
No. 104., Instagram: @contact_records/.

Lower Grand Radio: No. 208., Instagram @unitymart

The Hanged Man Co.: No. 109., Instagram: @thehangedmanco/

— Kimberly Chun

› tags: garden totes /