Kala and Commons Archive receive a $50,000 grant from The San Francisco Foundation

October 15, 2020

Contact: Mayumi Hamanaka, Kala Art Institute, Artistic Director, mayumi@kala.org, (510) 841-7000 x201, https://www.kala.org


Berkeley, CA – Kala Art Institute and Commons Archive receive a $50,000 grant from the San Francisco Foundation

We are pleased to announce that Kala Art Institute received a $50,000 grant from The San Francisco Foundation to support Commons Archive, a North Oakland-based grassroots history project developed by cultural researcher Sue Mark.   Initiated with Kala’s Print Public program in 2014, Commons Archive preserves and presents stories of those at risk of displacement, illuminating the rich history of South Berkeley/North Oakland Golden Gate’s neighborhood, its culture, people, and institutions, through a series of public art installations, special events, and collected memories.

About Commons Archive: Commons Archive looks at history as a living process that connects neighbor with neighbor. Through skill-sharing workshops, community gatherings and celebrations, Commons Archive empowers North Oakland neighbors as narrators and creators of their many local histories. By building alliances across North Oakland community groups, this non-traditional archive invites neighbors to critically reflect on cycles of neighborhood development and gentrification.

Commons Archive honors and preserves this culture before it’s too late and while elders and legacy neighbors are still here. Over the years, Commons Archive has created visual installations at the Golden Gate Library, skill-building and history sharing workshops led by community organizations, local historians and activists, and a new permanent collection of very local materials and stories at the Golden Gate Library.

How can community cohesion continue during the pandemic? As the prolonged quarantine morphs into our new mode of daily life, Commons Archive is developing ‘Block by Block’ in collaboration with North Oakland neighborhood groups. This neighborhood networking will form new pathways to share information, resources and camaraderie among neighbors to ease isolation and emotional overwhelm. Commons Archive is committed to supporting community resilience by nurturing opportunities to listen to each others’ stories.

Commons Archive is initiated and developed by cultural researcher marksearch (Sue Mark), an Oakland-based artist with over 20 years’ experience creating interactive opportunities for people to publicly share personal histories for empowerment and preservation.

Commons Archive began in 2014 through Kala’s Print Public initiative, a public art residency program supporting temporary public art installations and innovative acts of culture engaging the community along the San Pablo Avenue corridor where Kala and the Golden Gate Library are located.

“Sue Mark was one of the first Print Public artists animating public space and bringing neighbors together across differences. Now seven years later Commons Archive has taken engagement to a whole new level, shifting the paradigm from a temporary installation or pop-up project to a model for deepening neighborhood ties through extended work over time. Central to Kala’s mission is equitable engagement, supporting artists, and connecting artists and the community in meaningful and authentic ways and Commons Archive does just that.” ~Ellen Lake, Kala’s Executive Director

Visit the Commons Archive website for more on their past programs and follow them on Instagram: @commons_archive

About Kala: Kala is a non-profit arts organization and a vital community hub for artistic experimentation. Located in West Berkeley, Kala annually serves 125+ artist-in-residence and offers exhibitions, art sales, public programs, and education including over 100 workshops open to the public in techniques ranging from letterpress and etching to photoshop and professional practices. Kala’s youth art programs reach 2,500 students in partnership with Alameda County public schools during the school year and through an on-site (currently online) summer art camp and year-round studio offerings.

With access to a wide array of traditional and digital equipment in the print studio and media center, Kala fosters a fresh approach to artistic experimentation, as Kala artists investigate the interface of digital work, work made by hand, and everything in between. Now in its 46th year, Kala has grown from its early days in a tiny garage studio with one etching press and a single hot plate to its current 15,200 square foot art making facility with studios and a gallery in the historic Heinz Building. Its mission remains the same: to be a thriving, creative hub for artists and to provide engaging, artistic public programming now and into the future. Learn more at kala.org

Kala Gallery Address, 2990 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702