Berkeley Neighborhoods Council


Dedicated to improving the quality of life for all
by creating a unified neighborhood voice
for promoting livability and resolving problems


The Cultural Corner

BNC will select a neighborhood cultural treasure to feature in each issue of our eNEWS.  The business or activity selected is nominated by a resident without the knowledge of the business, event or activity that he/she is nominating.  The Newsletter Committee will make the selection if there is more than one nomination and publish it anonymously.  People can send in nominations to  BNC will notify the selected treasure.

Our selection for the August issue is Expressions Gallery, 2035 Ashby Avenue, Berkeley.

Expressions Gallery is a very special place for fun, socializing and learning which opened July 8, 2006.  It's located on Ashby Avenue, just a few feet east of Adeline across the street from the AME Church and just a short distance from the Ashby BART Station.  It's an important part of the Ashby Arts District along with three small theater venues - the Ashby Stage (Shotgun Players), the Black Repertory Theater just down the street on Adeline, and La Peña, a few blocks away on Shattuck.

The art gallery shows at Expressions are always diverse, with each one having a theme.  Some of the recent themes have been “Love, Unity, and Freedom” (last winter, visual poetry and readings), “All in Bloom” (last spring with a floral motif), and “Our Many Cultures” (just ended).  The current show, “Playful, Funny, Wild, and Wacky” opened August 3 and will run until October 13.  Full of vibrant colors and enthusiastic talent, their website says it all when it describes the show as including “many different mediums; Painting in acrylic, water color, and oil; photography, weavings, collage, glass works, digital arts, ceramics, floral art and more.”!!!!!!

Each show brings together many artists around a theme, painting, drawing and sculpting in a wide variety of traditions - realist, abstract, expressionist and impressionist - working in many different media - painting, drawing, textiles, ceramics, sculpture in stone and metals, and flowers.  The organization of the artworks throughout the gallery's many rooms and hallways is always tasteful and placed so that each piece doesn't feel crowded.  There is a large sculpture garden in the back, with space for live music and for each show opening there is always live music (frequently jazz) in the front of the gallery.  Rinna Flohr, the gallery owner, is a singer who will at times join in the entertainment for her guests.

However, Expressions is more than a gallery.  It's a community arts center which offers a variety of classes in printmaking, drawing, bookmaking and floral design.  Special classes are given for people with disabilities and for children.  Poetry readings occur on third Friday evenings and there are other literary events as well.  In addition, Expressions sponsors special events off-site in the community.

According to their website they “periodically hold an Art Auction at the Gallery or a Flea Market sale as the Ashby Bart Station Flea Market held on Saturdays or Sundays.  You may donate artwork you no longer need or you may buy art for very reasonable prices.  Art sales benefit and help support the Gallery.  Art Auctions support various local charities and non-profit groups who work with us.”

Hours of the gallery are Wednesday - Saturday, noon to 5 p.m., Sunday 12 to 3 p.m.  and by appointment.  Look to the website, for more details.