The organization Oakland Art Murmur partners with but is separate from the organization Oakland First Fridays. The Oakland Art Murmur is an organization of art galleries that are open to the public on the First Friday evening of each month and for the Saturday Stroll afternoon. Galleries on 25th Street between Broadway and Telegraph are open on the Third Thursday evening of each month as well. Oakland First Fridays adds the street fair with performers, local culinary artisans, musicians, dancers, DJ’s, and poets on the First Friday of each month. Even if the street fair is canceled because of rain, the galleries are still open on First Friday for the Art Walk.
Oakland Art Murmur (OAM) started with the cooperative effort of eight arts spaces to promote the their efforts in the Northgate and Temescal neighborhoods, and to attract more visitors to their individual art programs. This led to the First Friday Art Walk in January 2006. Participating venues included 21 Grand, 33 Grand, Auto 3321, Boontling Gallery, Buzz Gallery, Ego Park, Front Gallery, and Rock Paper Scissors Collective. They held concurrent First Friday receptions. Oakopolis joined the OAM with its alternative gallery in 2007. In 2014 the OAM membership of galleries continues to grow to include spaces throughout the City of Oakland.
Oakland Art Murmur (OAM) is a non-profit California public-benefit corporation, run by a volunteer Board of Directors. It is fiscally-sponsored by receives tax-deductible donations through Fractured Atlas. OAM’s day-to-day operations are managed by a part-time Director of Operations, who is supported by the President of OAM, Membership, Gallery Liaison, Designer, and a team of energetic volunteers.
The street festival that came to be known as Oakland First Fridays began with food trucks and musicians informally setting up on 23rd, 24th, and 25th street during the First Friday Art Walk. In 2012 the City of Oakland stepped in to give the growing street fair a permitted space, closing off Telegraph Avenue between West Grand and 27th Street on the first Friday of each month.
Oakland First Fridays evolved with the fiscal sponsorship of Koreatown Northgate Community Benefit District, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The new group added numbers to the Oakland Art Murmur audience, bringing in street performances, art installations, food vending, and craft sales, as well as receptions and exhibitions at art spaces that are not associated with OAM.
Together the galleries of Oakland Art Murmur and the street fair of Oakland First Fridays attract 20,000 visitors from California, with people coming from out-of-state and other countries as well.