One of the new pleasures of living in our area of Berkeley is visiting the Art House Gallery
Located near Shattuck and Russell (just a short walk to Ashby BART,) it's a peaceful retreat from the world with a great poetry reading series every month. I actually came across the place on my walks to and from downtown Berkeley during the Spring school session and house hunting.
After spotting a poster taped to a light pole advertising an event hosted by Art House Gallery for the Anniversary of People's Park, I finally went to check them out in late April. The Art House Gallery and Cultural Center is an art and photography gallery owned and operated by noted Berkeley photographer Harold Adler.. The space also functions as a small event venue for local writers and performers. Mostly run on donations, it's become a gathering place of community to share ideas and creativity in the South Berkeley area these past five years.
I wasn't sure what the place was.. As most the events occur on weekends, it's closed during the week and daytime hours.Come the weekend, there's open mic events, live music, and poetry! One of the key event series is Poetry Unbound, a three hour evening event featuring spoken word, poetry and sometimes other performance art if the muse strikes someone. These events feature different noted area poets, as well a brief open mic for locals to read, perform.. whatever.. For about 3 minutes, you can have a live audience to test your latest poem(s).
Last night (Sunday) Poetry Unbound celebrated its one year anniversary of monthly readings.. Featuring readings by Kayla Sussell, who writes poetry with music themes (Jazz especially!) She shared that she's been writing poetry for about the last five years, but they are all quite polished and refined. Featured poet Charles Curtis Blackwell, reading his poem "Cousin Alice" was a super treat to the ears, and my personal favorite of his set.
Afterwards "jazz/world" inspired ensemble band COPUS performed a strong set to close out the event. COPUS is a 5-piece performance group of rap, fusion, jazz and world music.. Formed in 1998, this San Francisco-based band has great flow. Led by Royal Kent,(whose lyrical and well-timed word and song stylings seemed to transcend rap or spoken word poetry at times).. Other current members: Monica Williams on flute, Patrick Mahon on bass and electric guitar, Greg McCray on percussion/drums and composer Wendy Loomis rounding it out on piano.
Last night was a special night, but you can still come to Art House and enjoy the next Poetry Unbound.. They're usually the first Sunday of the month.. hosted by writer/poets Richard Loranger and Clive Matson, the open mic signup starts at 5pm sharp, with readings beginning around quarter after/530 pm... Don't quote me on that but instead check out the Art House Gallery Website where Poetry Unbound and the various live events are posted, as well their facebook page.. There's many other events that go on here.. but I've been having such a great time attending these poetry readings.. so many creative and talented people!
Art House Gallery and Cultural Center
2905 Shattuck Ave
FRI-SUN evenings (check their website or facebook page)