Bernardo Grijalva Oakland Beautiful

A constant experiment in terms of its architectural environment, the city that
was once the land of pastoral orchards and farms as Gertrude Stein remembers
it is also the land of buildings. Having gone through a gold rush, postwar
industrial growth and in the midst of a shipping era, Oakland has changed its
built environment through out the 20th century to meet its civic needs. This is
evident in the city’s early transformation during the early 1900’s from its Victorian
country like aesthetic to the more worldly architectural styles during
our country’s modernization. From it’s emerald green Art Deco edifices to it’s
highly ornate theaters, Oakland, California is a menagerie of buildings that
exists as memories, in time as well as utilitarian domiciles and office buildings
that continue to serve its residents.

The Oakland Beautiful photographs whose title pays homage to the City Beautiful
or Beaux Art movement during the 1890’s and 1900’s, was a personal
journey through the urban landscape of downtown Oakland. Having been
raised in an urban setting much like Oakland, the opportunity to explore the
city with an almost tourist like curiosity during the night was an existential
exercise. The city’s rich architectural heritage and built environment served
as ideal subject matter for my preferred work method. Often working alone,
it is sometimes during the midnight hours that I find moments of solace. The
night time hours are perfect for observing details, undisturbed by the busyness
of city life it’s during the night that shapes, light and texture can be
photographed in a manner that show their progression in time.

The photographs are meant to show the viewer an intimate, almost dream
like vignette of Oakland’s architectural history. Through black and white
photographs, mostly soft and imperfect due to their traditional film format, it
is the viewer’s responsibility to connect the images to the different areas in
and around the city of Oakland through memories and past experiences.


Bernardo Grijalva is a commercial architectural photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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