Fifty Shades of Gray Loft
An Outlet for Emerging Artists Debuts
Late in 2011, Jan Watten looked around her studio in Oakland’s Jingletown neighborhood, just over the High Street Bridge from Alameda, and realized how “open and beautiful and gallerylike” the space was. “I’ve always been passionate about galleries,” says Watten, who grew up helping out at her mother’s gallery and always wanted her own. At that moment she decided, “I’m going to do it!” Gray Loft Gallery opened its doors in February 2012 with “The Love Show,” with plans to hold four or five shows a year.
Her building is known as the “gray lofts” because of the color of its facade, but Watten took the name for her gallery partly because, she says, “Gray is also symbolic and neutral. It’s a neutral environment for lots of different kinds of art.”
“I’m very open to almost any kind of art,” Watten says, including painting, photography, mixed media and installations. An accomplished and award-winning photographer herself, she may include her own work from time to time, but her priority is helping emerging artists. “I love the idea of being able to give someone that opportunity, because the gallery world, the gallery model, is very hard to get in to,” she says.
Less than half a mile from Bridgehead Studios and Rhythmix Cultural Works in Alameda, Watten hopes to tap into and boost their second Friday art walk, Estuary Art Attack. Jingletown has long been a nexus of artist studios. With Gray Loft joining neighboring 4:20 Gallery and newcomer Apples and Oranges, it is becoming a destination for gallery-hopping as well.
Gray Loft Gallery (2889 Ford St., No. 32, 510-499-3445, www.grayloftgallery.blogspot.com) is open 6–9 p.m. on second Fridays, noon–5 p.m. Saturdays and by appointment Sundays. (Not wheelchair accessible).