Swarm gallery will be closing it’s doors this summer after 8 long years of providing progressive programming of exhibitions and affordable artist studios in Oakland’s Jack London Square district. Swarm has been owned and operated by Svea Lin Soll who always seems to emit positive energy which is clearly seen in her artistic endeavors at Swarm. Soll has managed to keep her doors open in an area desolate of artistic spaces and it is sad to see Swarm closing it’s doors this year, but she will continue curating exhibitions at spaces in the greater Bay Area. Currently she has curated a show at Hatch Gallery in Oakland, which is now on view titled “WHAT ARE I?”. Below are some words by Svea Lin Soll summing up her experiences at Swarm and her future projects. We will truly miss Swarm Gallery, but it will be exciting to see what Lin Sol has in store for us in the near future.
In early 2005, I went gallery gazing in LA to find some ideas for my build out. I was opening Swarm Gallery in a huge, vaulted, vacuous, and bright storefront owned by Merritt Sher, a down-to-earth developer who wanted to shake things up in one of his buildings. I had no idea what to do. The back of the space as I found it was a stockpiled storage area for the neighboring tenant, Bed, Bath & Beyond. It was filled with metro wire shelving, plastic linen storage bags, old shopping carts, and cardboard. After some inspiration, I borrowed an architectural ruler from a friend, learned how to use it, and went to town designing the space. It was novel, ambitious, and nerve-wracking. The only predictable thing about opening a gallery in Oakland at that time was that it would be a challenge (or “bonkers,” as my friend Masako noted). I didn’t care, though. I had been working in Oakland’s art scene for six years already and felt driven to accept a new challenge, and as an idealist, super optimistic. All I had was that commitment and a rapport with Merritt, who expressed a sincere desire to see Swarm thrive. This would ultimately benefit his building and surrounds. Artist studios and art spaces are generally the tip of the arrow for developing neighborhoods destined for human habitat. The creative folks establish a desirable place to be, then restaurants, cafes, corner stores, and bike shops follow. It is an old story for the shifting cultural maps of cities, so in many ways, Swarm’s seven-year run is drawing to a natural close. I opened the same year the Oakland Art Murmur began, and started generating national attention for the city’s art scene. In May 2013, a real estate blog voted Oakland as the top most exciting cities to live in. (http://www.movoto.com/blog/top-ten/10-most-exciting-cities/). A lot has changed in seven years, and I feel proud of what I built in that waterfront corner of this town. It was a beautiful space to be in, to experience art in, to work in. It served its purpose well. I will miss the space, but intend to remain close to the Oakland art scene and continue working with the amazing artists I’ve supported over the years, and staying on the edge of emerging and experimental work. I’m excited to be collaborating with Adam Hatch of Hatch Gallery (formerly Ego Park, run by Kevin Slagle, 2001-2008). It’ll be nice to experiment with this new location for me, which is in the heart of the gallery district at 23rd and Telegraph. On Thursday, June 6, 6-8, we have a preview reception for “WHAT ARE I?”, a solo show with artist Mathew Zefeldt and a project by Chris Pew. We’ll be open Fridays and Saturdays 1-5, and of course first Fridays, 5-8 through July 20, 2013. Please stay tuned for more curatorial projects from Swarm.
-Svea Lin Soll
Below are selected images from Swarms archive of exhibitions. Enjoy.