Initated and curated by Slobodan Dan Paich, Jan. 1991–July 2005 Windows Project. Since its inception in 1991, Windows Project had showcased over 5,000 artists in vacant storefronts on Broadway and in Jack London Square in downtown Oakland.
The Windows Project was an ongoing series of public visual art exhibitions, from 1990 to 2004, using empty storefront windows in downtown Oakland, California. Its purposes were to showcase new and emerging artists, to bring this art to as many people as possible through free 24/7 sidewalk art galleries, and to contribute interest and vitality to the urban streetscape. Artists at every level of mastery participated, including children and seniors. The curatorial input was the sequence of pieces and the novel ways they were exhibited. Behind the scenes, artists received technical help in assembling the exhibition and even in creating exhibitions "from scratch." In practical terms, The Windows Project became an informal "art school," where "doing and making" took place. It also was a successful experiment in adding value to a community through art and culture.
"Filling the windows with art proved to be a hit not only among passers-by, but also for the owners of the commercial spaces, who found it much easier to rent their vacant stores once their windows were filled with art displays." (Oakland Tribune article, March 2, 1997 by Jolene Thym). In addition to revitalizing downtown Oakland and helping artists exhibit their work, the Windows Project addresses "audiences who wouldn't usually set foot in some haughty gallery." ( Oakland Tribune, 10/14/93). The ARTSHIP Foundation supervises the Windows Project in the sense that it offers artists a place to expose their work and plans the arrangement of the exhibits. However, any artist who wants to exhibit in the Windows Project may do so. The project introduces Oakland residents to art in a novel manner: "doing what armies of real estate agents couldn't make the center appealing…" Cheryl Belaer, A Paradoxical Exhibit, 1993 article.
Numerous economic development, urban planning and commercial studies have concluded that the Windows Project was a major catalyst for down town commercial development. ARTSHIP Foundation grew out of the Windows Project which along with its performing arts company forms the current core of ARTSHIP's programs.
1992 WINDOWS AT THE WATERFRONT Exhibition was honored by the Mayor of Oakland Elihue Harris with an official proclamation of a Day.
- More than 5,000 artists exhibited their work over 14 years.
- An estimated 1 million people each year were able to see the exhibitions.
- And economic development experts credit The Windows Project as a major factor in revitalizing the Jack London Square and Broadway corridor districts of downtown Oakland .
Windows Project Credits
The Windows Project was initiated by Slobodan Dan Paich and exhibited with the following co-curators: Augusto Ferriols (1991 – 2001), Daniel Harris ( 2001 – 2003) and Tom Franco (2003 – 2005). TheArthur Wright, Jakob Bokulich, Heath B Winer and Nathaniel Bolton also assisted with installing exhibitions during these years.
Other Windows Project Credits
The Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, after awarding an "OBA" (Oakland Business Arts) Award to Slobodan Dan Paich for his Flag Pole Project, invited him to submit ideas for "art as collateral" for urban economic development. The project that emerged as most achievable was the idea of exhibiting art in vacant storefront windows, of which there were many at the time in downtown Oakland . Mary Lou Weggenmann and Admiral Robert Tony were primary supporters of the project among Chamber officers, along with Margaret Bertrand who served as chair of its Arts and Culture Committee.
Joan Gibb, owner of the Waterfront Plaza Hotel in Jack London Square and Vice President of Chamber's Community Affairs approached the Port of Oakland (property owner) for permission to display art work in approximately 200 vacant storefront windows at then-deserted Jack London Square.
The Port granted permission, and also set up marketing and leasing offices, hiring as key consultant the real estate development firm, Terranomics now Metrovation, under leadership of Merritt Sher who embraced the Windows Project.
Slobodan worked closely, almost daily, with the marketing office headed by Kappi Hommert and later with Jim MacIlvane.
After five years of the Windows Project, Jack London Square was becoming more alive and vibrant. Oakland City Council Member At Large, Henry Chang, invited Slobodan and the Artship team to extend the Windows Project to the Broadway corridor, from 14 th to 20 th Streets along Broadway. After several months of art exhibitions on Broadway, more and more of the vacant properties began to be rented commercially. Now nearly all of the properties, which the Windows Project enhanced by art exhibitions, are rented commercially.
Behind the Scenes at the Windows Project
ARTSHIP Foundation has assembled over the years a large, permanent collection of original works of art, artifacts, folk art, costumes, a small library of art and reference books, and materials and equipment used for exhibitions and performances.
Before being located on the vessel Artship, which was moored at the historic 9 th Avenue Terminal in Oakland from 1999 to 2004, the collection was housed at the following East Bay locations where Windows Project exhibitions were created and staged.
- Jack London Square, Oakland: Two locations on Water Street, along the Oakland Estuary, now occupied by major restaurants.
- Oakland Yacht Club, 51 Jack London Square: In the unused areas of the historic Yacht Club now demolished. Some photographs on this page are from that space.
- Vintage WWII-era Fire House: Middle Harbor Road, Oakland.
Currently the permanent collection is housed in an office building on San Pablo Avenue, Emeryville, in space generously donated by Artship patron Lottie Rose.
The unique exhibitions and installations of the Windows Project were made possible by the synergy of art and artifacts, large and small, from the wildly eclectic Artship collection, together with raw materials, space and technical know-how donated by so many.
The first exhibitions of the Windows Project were called "People and Cloth" and provided the widest possible interpretations of body coverings and enhancements imaginable. Artists used bottle caps, pins, window screens, broken mirrors, eyeglass frames, as well as the usual medium of fabrics, to create works for this exhibition. Some of the photographs on these pages are from that period.
The Windows Project showcased both art organizations and individual artists.
Views of the Windows Project on Broadway in Downtown Oakland. Photos by Heath Winer