.Best Public Art

City of Dreams, an Oakland Love Retrospective

Imagine this: In the middle of the night, a mysterious group of people who go by the collective name Nonchalance approach an Oakland civic building. In the darkness, they assemble their equipment. Viewers, unsure of what will happen next, congregate. The tension grows. Then the group … puts on a slide show — a slide show about how much it loves Oakland, no less. “City of Dreams,” a sequence of 130 images of local historical figures set to music, already has been clandestinely screened on the faces of the Kaiser Building, the Grand Lake Theater, and the Oakland Airport Tower Lounge. The people portrayed run the gamut from the very famous (Isadora Duncan, Bobby Seale, Amy Tan, Bruce Lee) — to the anonymous (shipyard workers, Raiders fans, and members of the Ohlone tribe). There also are several frames devoted to Oakland’s seamier side: narcotics busts, body parts pulled from the lake, and the like. Who’s behind it all, and why are they doing it? You’ll find a few clues at www.nonchalance.org, where City of Dreams’ creators claim they’re just “celebrating the patron saints and sinners of our unsung city” and promoting their “enduring love for ‘original Oakland charm.’ ” How sweet is that?

Under I-580 overpass on Harrison Street in Oakland


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