Kerri Lee Johnson, an Oakland based artist, arts administrator, and curator, opened Marion and Rose's Workshop in Old Oakland's Pop-up Hood as a way to showcase unique, high quality items by artisans and craftspeople from all over the world. Focusing on uncommon home goods and special art pieces, Marion and Rose has opened new doors for small production vendors and artists. With everything from sea salt soap to hand made totem poles that serve as storage, Marion and Rose offers those interesting pieces that provide both style and function. Kerri's passion for art and the artist is what drives the force behind this beautiful, vintage inspired shop. We love taking a trek over to Marion and Rose to browse through all of her interesting new findings! Kerri's deep understanding of her artists processes and pieces is simply inspiring. Pop in and find that conversation piece that's sure to turn a few heads at your next gathering, and check out our interview with Kerri below to get to know our awesome neighbor!
Q. What made you want to move from having a gallery space to starting Marion and Rose's Workshop?
A. When my husband and I first opened Blankspace, we showed predominantly site-specific installations, so we would have artists create small works or ephemera related to the exhibit to have to sell as a way for them to be able to recoup the cost of their installations. Over time the front space began to naturally turn into a small shop of artist made products. Also, during the holidays I would turn the gallery into a popup shop, inviting local vendors to be a part of the "Holidayland" sale that would run through December. Since closing the gallery I have been wanting to open a shop featuring artisan products...when this opportunity presented itself I jumped at the chance.
Q. Being an artist yourself, do you have an overall aesthetic or theme that you like to stick to when finding pieces? Do you have any current fall favorites?
A. My aesthetic tends to lean towards objects with modern clean lines and bold colors. I am always looking for well crafted, uncommon functional items. My current fall favorites are the handcrafted wood pepper mills made from upcycled and reclaimed wood from buildings in Oakland. Beautiful, well-made and functional. I am also loving the new pottery from local designer Whitney Smith.
Q. How has being a part of pop-up hood changed your perspective on Oakland?
A. With the pop-up hood project being in the national and international spotlight, I am acutely aware that other cities are looking at Oakland for inspiration, ideas, and hope to bring back to their residents and neighborhoods. With this attention I feel an even stronger sense of responsibility to be an ambassador to the city - helping to inform and represent Oakland in a positive way. When I talk to customers I am reminded just how fiercely loyal people are to this city and how proud they are to support small businesses. I am proud to have my business in Oakland!
Check out the Marion and Rose Website for upcoming events and products!