A Dinner Party that Doubled as a Photo Exhibition

For one evening, six of my photographs were featured at a dinner party-meets-art exhibition event in Oakland, California.

According to their Web site,

Local Social is the brainchild of Gretchen Krebs and Catherine Weis. Our mission is to merge elementsof design, art, and installation for inspiration and appreciation.


The theme was “Vessel,” but what is a vessel?

Upon learning of Local Social’s call for photography, I searched my archives for images of anything that made me think of a vessel. But just what was a vessel, I wondered, as I curated a mini-gallery of boats, trains, baskets, mugs and other things that worked with the theme.

Gretchen and Catherine selected six of my images and gave me space on an industrial wall to “hang” them on.

By the time I figured out how, my hands were black with dirt from moving around the heavy metal girders. But, in the end, I feel I came up with a creative way to display my work in a very non-traditional space.

Me with my selected images for the Local Social Vessels event
Me with my selected images for the Local Social Vessels event

Plenty of Time to Photograph Industrial Oakland

I arrived at Chris French Metal early enough to set up, but then found myself with lots of spare time before the event began. Partly inspired by the the 200 Yards photography project, I decided to wander around the industrial Oakland neighborhood with my camera.

Large warehouses and captivating urban decay dominate the area surrounding 16th Street in Oakland, California. For more than an hour, I was engulfed by scenes of factories, train tracks, doors, signs and art.

Train Tracks Across the Street From American Steel factory in Oakland, California
Train Tracks Across the Street From American Steel factory in Oakland, California
The side of a large work of art on a giant slab of metal in Oakland, California
The side of a large work of art on a giant slab of metal in Oakland, California
Not a Through Road, Oakland, California
Not a Through Road, Oakland, California
Stop Do Not Enter
Stop Do Not Enter
A building reflects in the hubcap of a classic hippie Volkswagen Bus
A building reflects in the hubcap of a classic hippie Volkswagen Bus

About the Local Social Vessels Event

The event itself was held in a giant warehouse space that was beautifully transformed into a warm and inviting dining hall.

Surrounding two long dining tables were physical vessels of clay and paper mache by Ann Weber, Whitney Smith and Sara Paloma.

Sara also delighted the crowd with an evening-long demo of her work on a potter’s wheel, creating numerous vessels of all shapes and sizes as the evening went on.

A paper mache vessel by Ann Weber
A paper mache vessel by Ann Weber
A crooked truck down the street from the Local Social event
A crooked truck down the street from the Local Social event

Dinner and Drinks as Art

Dinner was a delight, with tri-tip steak, perogies, pasta, pastries and other exquisite gourmet foods cheffed up by Caleb Jones from Michael Mina and Maggie Weber-Striplin from Pachamama.

The evening’s musical entertainment was courtesy of Uriah Duffy and Max McVeety and the bar featured some of the most delicious custom cocktails with names like the Ship’s Cove and Piggy Bank. I can still taste the rye!

Rye and the other ingredients that went into the delicious cocktails at the Local Social Vessels event
Rye and the other ingredients that went into the delicious cocktails at the Local Social Vessels event

Other Photographic Artists

Also displaying their photography were the very talented Melissa Kaseman and Summer Makovkin. Be sure to check out their Web sites and support local art!

A railroad crossing sign plus a little bit of a stop sign near 16th Street in Oakland, California
A railroad crossing sign plus a little bit of a stop sign near 16th Street in Oakland, California

I Love Trains!

Perhaps my favorite part of the photo walk I took was all of the train tracks and signs in the surrounding area.

I have loved the rails since my father and I first set up a Lionel 027 Gauge toy train set on my grandfather’s living room floor.

There may be a railroad crossing sign, but something tells me there hasn't been a train in that area in a long while
There may be a railroad crossing sign, but something tells me there hasn’t been a train in that area in a long while

The decaying doors of the still-active steel and iron mills also captivated my interest, as evidenced by these next two photographs.

A side door to the Romak Iron Works in Oakland, California
A side door to the Romak Iron Works in Oakland, California
A side door to the American Steel Plant
A side door to the American Steel Plant

Finally, here is a more broad view of the types of streets I was walking down to capture these images.

A run down street in Oakland, California
A run down street in Oakland, California

Unedited Photography

All of the above images have some sort of digital darkroom work done on them, whether it be burning, dodging, color correction, levels or curves adjustments or anything else I love to do with the mouse. Below are the rest of the highlights from that day, exactly as they came out of my Nikon D80 on Sunday, June 26, 2011. Enjoy!

I would like to thanks Genevieve and Shelly at Lightbox SF, whose first put me in touch with Local Social.

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