In the back of a Scandinavian bakery in Oakland, there’s a warehouse space with an entirely orange living room. An orange couch sits in front of an orange table with fluorescent orange Cheeto puffs overflowing from an orange bowl next to a bottle of orange soda. A painted-orange Nintendo GameCube plays Super Monkey Ball on an orange TV. For young people who grew up in the Nineties, the living room evokes memories of Nickelodeon, not only because of the all-consuming color that matches that of the kids network’s logo, but also how it hearkens back to long summer days spent watching cartoons for hours.
The room is just one section of “SPF 30,” the third event from Oakland art collective Macro Waves. This Saturday, the collective will invite the public into Layer Studios for a pop-up art experience that’s at once summer party, musical performance, and immersive installation.
In addition to the all-orange living room, the space will host an all-yellow front yard, complete with lawn chairs and an all-tan beachscape featuring sand and projected footage of Stinson Beach. While attendees hang out in the installation, enjoying Filipino fusion tapas from food pop-up Hood Yums, musicians will spontaneously begin to perform in each area of the space. The lineup includes rapper Tyrese Johnson, jazz guitarist Joshua Icban, and producer Jon Reyes.
Macro Waves is a collective of eight East Bay artists who work in a variety of disciplines, including installation, graffiti, new media, rap, graphic design, and photography. But unlike a typical collective, which might show separate works together as a group, Macro Wave only creates cohesive art pieces that utilize everyone’s talents. By doing so, their work consumes its venue, creating an art experience rather than a singular object.
The collective members started off their collaboration by challenging themselves: “Why can’t an art show be a rap show, too — or the inverse?” and “How do we make the audience feel the audio and the visuals at the same time?” as various members put it.
But their intent isn’t just aesthetic hybridization. They also aim to bring together the subcultures attached to scenes and to create dialogue between them.
“When you start to box in certain scenes or certain cultures, I think it prevents peer creativity,” explained collective member Jeffrey Yip. “Those are the barriers that prevent individuals and groups from creating new and innovative things.”
In particular, the group formed last year out of a mutual frustration over the separation between white-wall gallery culture and the youthful, DIY music-and-art scene in the Bay Area. So, its goal became creating art experiences that draw in a young crowd by offering striking visuals, interaction, and a party atmosphere — but also ensuring that the installation has a strong conceptual underpinning as an art piece.
For SPF 30, the goal is to highlight how summer is often romanticized in commercial and pop culture and to reveal its actual mundanity and listlessness. “In the Bay Area, growing up with low-income families, or with parents who work a lot, what does summer really mean?” asked collective member Robin Birdd. “Is it really like Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk? Really, it’s just your living room.”
Birdd explained that the yard is meant to evoke memories of sitting outside watching your younger siblings while your parents are at work, noting that, for many kids, summer ends at the edge of their front lawns.
She said the beach scene alludes to an idealized version of summer, with a little bit of a reality check: It’s Stinson, so the footage is more windy than sunny.
But the vibe is also celebratory, tapping into the nostalgia rooted in summer experiences, and harnessing how, through imagination, kids can make any setting fun. As member Alexander Lim put it: “Making sure that people know these experiences are valid and just as valuable.”
“We want people to have a good time,” Birdd said, “but also leave saying, ‘I never thought of summer in that way.'”