Gathering for the Arts Pops Up in the East Bay

Alamedan showcases local artists in salon-style setting.


Puppeteer Allison Daniel poses with Gonzalez

Terry Woodward


Alameda resident Yollanda Gonzales started hosting an art salon in her apartment every month last year until her audience outgrew her space. Now she holds her salon in various places around the East Bay, as a pop-up venue that may move its location but doesn’t lose its vibe.

“I’m focused on supporting artists in the community, because artists don’t have much support, and artists, generally speaking, aren’t very good at marketing themselves,” Gonzales said. She took a business marketing and planning course and set about showcasing a variety of artists in a once-a-month gig to spread the word about the variety of talent and vision that surrounds this part of the Bay.

Recent salons have featured internationally acclaimed performers and little-known artisans. “It’s the whole gamut,” she said. “If you have an art, you can be hosted in the salon. It’s all-encompassing.” That includes dancers, musicians, poets, storytellers, actors, fashion designers, painters, jewelers, puppeteers, authors, and singers.

Gonzales, who hails from Michigan by way of New York, where she danced ballet professionally and as a street artist, stresses the importance of multiculturalism, native and foreign, in her salons. “America is rich with cultures. We are promoting cultural awareness through the arts.” That means a Cajun actor, a Chicago jazz and reggae musician, a Chinese lute player, a violinist from Denmark, to cite a recent salon. The October arts salon will feature a dancer, a fashion designer, a jeweler, and more. Each event, which takes place the last Sunday of the month, 1 to 4 p.m., offers five artists in an up-close and get-to-know-you experience, with a short performance and a follow-up Q&A for each featured artist.

Gonzales has lived in Alameda for the past three years, moving to the Island from Oakland. She’s a licensed therapist. She is also writing romantic erotica, using Facebook as her platform, and is working on a short film using BART as the stage for a dance/rap piece. With this passion for the arts, it’s no surprise that this little movement has become a success.  “I don’t advertise; they just come,” said Gonzales, and her salons keep growing. Recent salons have taken place in the fabulous Arabian Nights atmosphere of the Sahara Moroccan Lounge in Berkeley. Future salons’ locations will be posted on the website.  Find Yollanda Gonzales online at Facebook/BeyondanceYollandaGonzales and Facebook/SalonforArts.

October’s Salon for Arts takes place Sunday, Oct. 26, 1 to 4 p.m., Sahara Moroccan Lounge, at 2110 Ashby Avenue, Berkeley. Call 510-383-0717 for information. $15 sliding scale.

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