In an unassuming storefront in Oakland’s Temescal neighborhood, a small gallery is home to an artist residency where people are queering art history, channeling their inner gurus, contemplating the drought, and transforming into animals.
At the beginning of June, Royal Nonesuch Gallery temporarily turned into the Royal Production Company (RPC), a studio where a rotation of artists have been inviting the public to help them create experimental films.
The residency started on June 3 with Carolyn Jenssen, whose interdisciplinary project Delete All Feelings centered around the idea of manifesting personal success or wishes through a parody of chants, meditations, and shrine worship.
From June 24 to July 14, Kate Rhoades used the gallery for Required Skimming, for which she read art historical texts with a humorous twist and conducted zany interviews on Congratulations Pine Tree, the podcast she co-hosts with Maysoun Wazwaz.
The current artist in residence — through August 4 — is Amber Cady, a psychotherapist and social practice artist whose project is called Worry and the Animals. For Cady, social practice is an art form that actively engages with the public in order to inspire positive change in people’s lives.
After earning a degree in Interdisciplinary Practice from the San Francisco Art Institute, Cady realized that the art she was making called for a greater understanding of how people engage with the world. After studying at the Wright Institute, she developed her skill in psychology, and her art and therapy practices began to merge.
“The residency is the first time that I can sit in those two worlds and have them overlap and inform each other in really deep ways,” she said.
During her residency, Cady has been inviting people in to share their worries, anxieties, and bothersome thoughts. After interviewing participants, Cady asks them to conceptualize their burdens as an animal — a way to dissociate from the negative energy — then create a storyline around the creature. As participants walk through their stories, Cady helps them visualize a less alarming and friendlier animal that symbolizes calm, soothed feelings.
Next, Cady will be making costumes of the imagined animals and create a film of her wearing them, with recordings of the participants’ stories overlaid as narration.
“The residency is partially a site for me as a costume maker [and] partially a place where I can conduct the one-on-one interviews,” said Cady. “And people are welcome to make their own animals or costumes.”
Coming up last, from August 5 through August 25, is the artist collective Bonanza: Conrad Guevara, Lindsay Tully, and Lana Williams. They will be working on The Drought, a project that examines various issues surrounding the incessant California dry-up and demise of the already arid regional landscape. The group will be coupling original investigative journalism with its signature tongue-in-cheek aesthetic to create a docu-drama short that focuses on the concerns and myths of the water crisis.
On August 7, the group will invite people to watch filming of crowd scenes it is shooting in the Temescal neighborhood near the gallery. On August 14, the gallery will be open for people to come and watch their production process. The overall residency will end with a screening of all of the artists’ films on Friday, September 16, at the Roxie Theatre in San Francisco; after which the residencies will be over, the green screen will be put away, and the gallery’s white walls will reemerge for a month-long showing of all the films.Clarification: The original version of this article included event details in the last paragraph that have since been changed. This version reflects the updated event information.