I met with
Judy Elkan of Mary Weather,
the boutique on 15th Street in downtown Oakland, to check out the remodel of her store and hang out for a bit.
I walk into the shop, through the open door, to face the newly mirrored entryway that separates the clothing and jewelry from the current art show, which includes a section of astroturf underfoot and a small cactus in a corner. Judy welcomes me in and asks me to have a seat in the BOSS chair. Her dog, Finny, lies in his carrier, on the astroturf with the single word in all caps across the top: HOME. On the walls of the shop are prints from Judy’s designs. It is the design I think of as the “You, Me and Everybody I Know” print because it reminds me of the movie.
The mustached man print is cross-legged
on a sweatshirt that hangs from the rungs of the upstairs loft. A new print showcases what looks to be a man in heels, another holding (his) long flowing wig. In the mirrored jewelry case are shrinkies made into earrings and porn pins.
The current art show showcases ten artists, and was curated by “Joe.”
The art ranges from portraits of Uma Thurman overdosing in Pulp Fiction to paintings of confections, including one of cotton candy that looks to be windswept across two canvasses, and if I didn’t know better might have thought was soft tissue or even a placenta. We discuss the shop now. It is part boutique, part gallery & event space. Judy has short shows curated and put up on the walls, as she says that it has been more recently that her vision for the store started to really become clear. The shop, when she first acquired it in January, was a print studio. An option to go to wood floors from laminate arose and as Judy says, “then when the sink left, it just started to come together.” She moved her clothing in and by February was putting up art shows. Judy wants to “use the space for artists who are hungry to throw up their art and make as much money as they can.”
We talked about how
Oakland is a great place to be right now, which is different than “the place to be right now.”
I have said it before, but as a woman, a social entrepreneur, a writer, and a feminist, Oakland is a fucking awesome place to be right now. I keep meeting more and more women who are holding shit down. They are venturing into new territories. They are starting conversations. They thinking about the community, about how to be conscious of not gentrifying, serving the community, integrating. Women are creating welcoming spaces and collaborating. (Of course there are those shmucks that are coming in with all of their ignorance and somebody else’s money to serve a community that is leeching off Oakland as a lower-rent, “edgy” opportunity to make quick, privileged money. But this isn’t everyone.) Judy and I talked about art and being a woman, about creating art and curating art, and the lack of women.
As Judy said, it’s not about being anti men, it is just about making a conscious decision, to remember to seek out and showcase women because the reality is that one or two women will end up being in the art shows, curating, hosting readings, to every 8 or 9 guys. I think this applies to showcasing women in media as well.
We muse on why there are less women putting themselves out there in proportion to men, on violence and on other gender realities. Perhaps I am afraid to post this as a women-only space, Judy suggests. I appreciate her candidness, her vulnerability, her honesty. This is a space to have conversations, to ruminate, to create, to navigate concepts and notions.
Judy has a lot going on, with the collaborations she has with Oakland Mind, Sidequest Gallery, Naming Gallery, countless bay area artists and most recently, Wine & Bowties, who ended their bike party at Mary Weather recently.
Upcoming Events & Shows:
•Oakland Drops Beats on August 16th 12 pm -10 pm
•Hellagraff.com Kicks off Mary Weather’s First Friday Debut!
Hellagraff.com print show on Sept 5th
Featuring the photography of @hellagraffdotcom along with collaborations and original art from IROT, NINA, LOGO, CHRIS GRANILLO, ROAR, ANEMAL, ERNEST DOTY, GYER, MIKE and ALRAD.
•24hour Art Party -Sat August 23rd 6 Pm-Sunday August 24th 6 PM
Performance, Music, Readings The Interview Hour, Sunday Afternoon Dance Party, Pancakes and Coffee- more to come!
I will be debuting my feminist reading series “From all Points but the Center.”
•Every Thursday –cipher w\Oakland Mind
Keep your eyes peeled for more info on these:
•Records release party in Sept
•MC workshop with DJ Oracle