The Joyce Gordon Gallery, located in the historic Athenian-Nile Building in downtown Oakland, is celebrating 10 years of culturally diverse shows, exhibits and performances with a holiday art show.
The gallery will be showing works of art for sale, and a selection of greeting cards, prints, jewelry and books by local artists will also be available for purchase.
Since opening her gallery in early 2003, Gordon has built upon her background as a graduate of the California College of the Arts and on her connection to local artists to mount over 200 exhibitions. Her openings on the first Friday of the month made her a pioneer in the Art Murmur scene, said Eric Murphy, the gallery's director as well as a photographer and independent curator who has been supporting Oakland arts organizations since 1999.
The historic building where the gallery is located -- on the corner of 14th and Franklin streets -- is among the oldest still standing downtown.
Finished in 1902, it's four stories with a distinctive corner bay window above the commercial ground floor level. The gallery space fronts 14th Street, with other spaces facing Franklin.
A canopy-covered entry next door leads to the foyer and stairway to upper floors that house what were once an exclusive gentlemen's meeting rooms and a lounge. Movers and shakers such as California Gov. George Pardee and Joseph R. Knowland, publisher of the Oakland Tribune, gathered there in the '20s and '30s with fellow members of the Athenian-Nile Club. In those days, the upstairs rooms were off-limits to the women, prompting the establishment of several women-only clubs during the same era.
In 1996, the building was acquired by its current owner, entertainment promoter Geoffrey Pete. He worked with Oakland's facade improvement grants program and rehabilitated the century-old structure. The building's architect was Walter J. Mathews (1850-1947), the son of a builder responsible for many of 19th-century downtown Oakland buildings.
Mathews' career was long and illustrious as well. Among his many commissions was the First Unitarian Church located several blocks west, on 14th and Castro streets. Mathews received many commissions to design the homes for the bank presidents and executives who belonged to Athenian- Nile.
The Athenian-Nile Club Building is a primary contributor to the Downtown Historic District and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Landmark files point to its association with early Oakland town founders as well as its architectural integrity as reasons for its designation.
Murphy said the gallery is available for rental for corporate meetings, special occasions and weddings. It features high ceilings and hardwood floors, 1,500 square feet of space and an alcove. And it's just steps away from BART's 12th Street entrance.
For more about the Joyce Gordon Holiday A.R.T. Salon Exhibit, visit www.joycegordongallery.com or call 510-465-8928.
Learn more about the movers and shakers of Oakland's historic Athenian-Nile Club era by arranging a downtown walking tour with the Oakland Tours Program, 510-238-3234, www.oaklandnet.com/walkingtours.