Oakland welcomes new art gallery

Derek Macario

The first group show at Good Mother gallery, Tired Hands, brought out the largest crowd for an art reception I’ve ever seen in SF or Oakland. As I approached the gallery I could see from the end of the block that the crowd was stretching past the neighboring storefronts and off of the sidewalk.

On Friday, January 29th, Oakland welcomed the newest edition of art spaces in the downtown cluster of art galleries. The grand opening reception of Good Mother gallery featured the work of over 50 artists in the Bay Area and beyond.

The crowd inside felt like a packed club or bar, with a live DJ playing from the second floor balcony and drinks being handed out at the front desk. Behind the front desk were shelves with zines, prints, tee shirts for sale, resembling a kiosk. Wall to wall was arranged with art, from paintings, illustrations, photographs, prints, and sculptures. The crowd slowing made their way through the first floor seeing both walls of work and up the staircase featuring a mural to the second floor to find more prints and paintings.  The crowd was buzzing. People were taking photos of themselves and their friends. Featured artists and their supporters were chatting about the work and Good Mother Gallery.

A crowd fills Good Mother gallery at the reception of 'Tired Hands' on Friday January 29, 2015. (Derek Macario/Xpress Magazine)
A crowd fills Good Mother gallery at the reception of ‘Tired Hands’ on Friday January 29, 2015. (Derek Macario/Xpress Magazine)

In the past fews years the Oakland art scene has been growing rapidly, particularly around 15th street near the downtown area. As with Le QuiVive gallery establishing a growing following and drawing in large crowds. Other galleries that have opened last year include Mary Weather Apparel and Naming Gallery, and have been magnetic to the community. These galleries have been spaces for the public to come together, and have been attracting much of the younger crowd that has been scarcer in San Francisco.

Owners of Good Mother gallery, Ian Jethmal, Calvin Wong, and Jared Jethmal before the inaugural reception and grand opening , on Friday January 29, 2015. (Photo courtesy of Brock Brake)
Owners of Good Mother gallery, Ian Jethmal, Calvin Wong, and Jared Jethmal before the inaugural reception and grand opening , on Friday January 29, 2015. (Photo courtesy of Brock Brake)

The Jethmal Brothers, Jared and Ian, and a friend, Calvin Wong, are the owners of Good Mother Gallery. They have been working in the San Francisco and Oakland art scene for the last few years while also attending art schools, at Academy of the Arts and SFAI.

Today is the last day to view ‘Tired Hands’ at Good Mother Gallery and they will be having having a closing reception starting at 7pm with music by Divisions and Laureen Zouai.

I spoke with The Jethmal Brothers about their experience so far with Good Mother.  I’ll be referring to myself, Derek, as D, Jared as J, and Ian as I.

Derek: Opening a gallery in Oakland has been on your radar for some time now, what attracts you to Oakland as a place for art. Were you guys ever really considering SF, or not?

Jared: Oakland is an epicenter for art right now in my eyes, its just lucky that we happen to live here. People travel here from all over the world to here specifically for the art scene. The shit is everywhere, from inside gallery walls to directly in your face all over the Oakland streets and pretty much everywhere in between. Opening in San Francisco was considered but just not a possibility due to high rent prices, and more strict city codes and what not.

SFSU senior printmaking student, Ryan Whelan, next to his work at the reception of 'Tired Hands' at Good Mother, on  January 29, 2015. (Derek Macario/ Xpress Magazine)
SFSU senior printmaking student, Ryan Whelan, next to his work at the reception of ‘Tired Hands’ at Good Mother, on January 29, 2015. (Derek Macario/ Xpress Magazine)

D: You have a good relationship with the other galleries nearby, do yo wish you were closer or it doesn’t make that big a different to not be on 15th?

J: The few block difference doesn’t really affect us in anyway but stretches out the ‘art walk’ I guess you could say. The block we are currently on has a ton of rad stuff going on, and they’ve been more than welcoming. So we’re more than happy where we are.

D: What has the support been like from your network of relationships with artists, other galleries and your neighbors? What kind of help and advice have really worked for Good Mother?

J: All of our homies, our families, and homies of homies have been incredibly helpful. There’s a huge web of people I could list and it would probably take hours. Everyone on the 15th St block and our entire neighborhood in general has been super supportive from the very gate. They’ve been super welcoming and ultimately were just hyped to be a part of that community.

D: For Ian, you are still in school right now, how are you handling that on top of all the work getting the gallery ready and running? And how does that even feel, to have a gallery but still be in school?

Ian: I actually just graduated from the Academy of Art about a week before the shows opening. Balancing school, work, and renovations were hectic to say the least. Even though it was tough, but I pretty much knew the major goal I was striving for was opening this space, so the majority of my time went in that direction. As far as my thoughts on owning a gallery right now… I couldn’t really tell you how I feel about it. I wanna say stoked but thats a huge understatement. I’m just grateful in so many ways and to so many people and I’m just still in awe of all this work we’ve been putting in finally coming together.

D: Jared, you were doing some curating last year, how do go about your selection. What are some of the things you look at in work that you like? And why?

J: I guess I have a weird curating style, I love doing group shows. More specifically I love doing group shows without themes. I like giving artists full creative freedom. I choose the artist, being a fan of their work, and knowing fully what they bring to the table will be sick. Art is so subjective though, that I am a fan of what I am a fan of, and thats who I choose to exhibit. That may not come across the same to some people.

D: Tired Hands is featuring works from some well known established and emerging artists from the Bay Area, like APEX, Meryl Pataky, Chad Hasegawa, Aaron Kai, among others who you’ve worked with before in different ways. But what about some other artists many people haven’t heard much about, like Michelle Fleck and Ryan Whelan, how did you come across some of these artists and decide to include them?

J: We chose the artists that we are all huge fans of, whether they are ‘established’ or not was not so much a factor in curating the show. And that is kind of the intention with our gallery, to show artists with notoriety paired with artists with maybe lesser notoriety, who are just as talented and deserve the attention. That was the idea behind that and what well continue to do in future exhibits.

SFSU alumni, Michelle Fleck, next to her painting at the reception of 'Tired Hands' at Good Mother, on January 29, 2015. (Derek Macario/ Xpress Magazine)
SFSU alumni, Michelle Fleck, next to her painting at the reception of ‘Tired Hands’ at Good Mother, on January 29, 2015. (Derek Macario/ Xpress Magazine)

D: 50 plus artists is a big line up, I sometimes feel when group shows get too big I don’t get to really see the art, but instead just skip over either artists I’m not familiar with or art that doesn’t stand out. Especially if a majority of the works are small. How do you guys feel about other big group shows you’ve seen and what will be in Tired Hands?

J:  I can see that, when there’s a ton of work up you tend to skip over things that don’t immediately catch your eye. With Tired Hands we tried to touch on a lot of different styles, from fine art, to illustration, to graffiti, etc. So that there is something for fans of each genre. In my opinion, all the work is so good that you won’t want to skip over anything.

Art work featured in 'Tired Hands' at Good Mother gallery, on Friday January 29, 2015. (Derek Macario/Xpress Magazine)
Art work featured in ‘Tired Hands’ at Good Mother gallery, on Friday January 29, 2015. (Derek Macario/Xpress Magazine)

D: Oakland seems to be a place where there is a lot of room, and I feel like that allows for different communities come together and interact. How do you guys like the community out there? What are some moments you’ve really enjoyed in Oakland?

J: Yeah, definitely, Oakland is a very diverse place and that allows for a lot of different crowds to interact. Thats what makes Oakland so sick. It’s has a very, very communal vibe which I think is kind of the main difference between it and San Francisco. As far as moments I enjoy in Oakland, uhm, the late night taco truck sesh on the other side of the lake was a frequent.

Guests check out the art  featured in 'Tired Hands' at Good Mother gallery, on Friday January 29, 2015. (Derek Macario/Xpress Magazine)
Guests check out the art featured in ‘Tired Hands’ at Good Mother gallery, on Friday January 29, 2015. (Derek Macario/Xpress Magazine)

D: What else does Good Mother have planned for the near future?

J: Good Mother’s future plans are pretty much keep pumping out good shows for people to look forward to. Show the community a lot of really good art. That’s our main goal right now so that’s what you can expect for the next couple years. Who know’s what’ll happen. We got a couple pop up shows (music shows, a zine fest, etc)  coming through the month of February while ‘Tired Hands’ is on display. After that we will be having another big group show on the First Friday of March so stay posted for that.

Good Mother’s next opening is on Friday March 6 for the group show ‘2’.

Good Mother gallery is located at 408 13 St, Oakland.

@goodmothergallery