Walking the Lake today with a friend, we got our exercise while having a retail adventure. First off, we noticed a sandwich board on the path to the Lake Chalet Seafood Bar & Grill for a cute little shop, Bottega Veneziana.
This little boutique is part of Gondola Servizio’s business and is run by co-owner April Quinn. She and Angelo Sandri met on a Venetian gondola ride and are determined to share their romance with all things Venetian and Oakland with us.
The shop features both Italian specialties including foodstuffs and artisan items-jewelry, purses, etc- made in Oakland. They will also provide an Egg Hunt for the children on Easter Sunday, April 24th, at the Servizio.
We strolled some more and enjoyed the sun and fabulous folk walking and running along with us. My friend had never seen the inside of Oakland’s church by the Lake, Cathedral of Christ the Light, so we went in to check it out.
It is a soaring minimalist structure whose spare insides are warmed by the beauty of Douglas fir mullions, louvers, and benches that envelope you with their honey- colored curves. I had been there before and had visited the charming gift shop. Besides inspirational books and sacred art, there is a wide range of folk art from around the world.
I love nativity scenes and variations on the mother and child theme which you can find rendered in pottery, metals, and wood. They are made by crafts people from Haiti to El Salvador, Peru to Indonesia and Viet Nam. There are also many charming skeleton figurines from Mexico. You don’t have to be Catholic or even particularly religious to appreciate the variety of craftsmanship and culture they offer.
The volunteers who run it told us that they were participating in World Fair Trade Day events that will take place between May 1st and May 15th. If you want to know more about this event, visit FTRN.org which is “aiming to gather over 100,000 North American citizens, businesspeople, faith advocates, students, consumers, and activists to celebrate the people who grow our food and produce our goods.”
We met a family with their very tiny Chihuaha (I think) and her puppy before running into former Lakeshore business owner, entrepreneur, and nationally renowned musician, D’Wayne Wiggin. He’ll have an exciting announcement for Oakland’s entertainment scene soon, can’t wait.
On our last leg around the Lake we couldn’t help but make one more stop at Sacred Well with its charming windows full of art, crystals and candlelight. It had been a floral shop before this Oakland boutique moved in a few years ago
There we met Rha Bowden who designed this wonderful motif of a city that represents the best of urban life to me. Rha started out studying engineering at the dual program that Morehouse College and Georgia Tech offer in Atlanta. (He had left Morehouse just as my son matriculated there.) We found out that he finished up at the Atlanta Art Institute after deciding to follow the path of an artist. Many of his ink drawings are available at the shop and well worth a visit.
I will definitely be returning to all of these Oakland businesses in search of the worldwide craftsmanship and locally made wares they feature, but especially to learn more about what inspired these entrepreneurs to bring their unique styles to our town.
By the way, we started our jaunt with an afternoon coffee and a scone at Arizmendi’s on Lakeshore which was bustling and has, thankfully, just expanded its Sunday hours to 6 PM. Hope to see you by the Lake soon.