James Gayles Closing Reception at Spice Monkey

James Gayles is one of Oakland’s living legends. He was also the voters’ choice for Best Artist in this year’s Best of the East Bay issue. The watercolor portraitist has been working in Oakland for decades, painting the faces of Black icons as his own way of preserving African-American culture. Most recently, he had been working in a studio out of OakStop co-working space in the middle of Downtown Oakland. But, according to a statement posted online by his friends and family, the recent rise in cost of living has pushed the seasoned artist out of his space. On Thursday, September 29, there will be a closing reception for a show of paintings that Gayles currently has on display at Spice Monkey restaurant (1628 Webster St., Oakland), from 5–7 p.m. There, attendees will be able to appreciate his work as well as donate to his fundraising campaign (GoFundMe.com/JamesGayles) in person. The money will be used to secure a new studio space for Gayles, as well as fund his plans to start a series of workshops — which he calls “flow-shops” — to bridge the generational gap between established artists such as himself and young, aspiring artists so that they may work together to preserve Oakland’s rich cultural heritage.


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