Project Space

The Project Space is Pro Arts’ storefront, window gallery. This public-facing exhibition space is accessible to passersby and art audiences 24/7.



Anita Sulimanovic, The Exclusion Zone (detail) 2013 

Anita Sulimanovic: The Exclusion Zone – Dystopia or utopia?

Jan 11- Feb 15, 2019

Opening Reception: Friday, October 11, 6-9PM, 2019

Severe events could cause the extinction of all human life on the planet Earth. The age of the Earth is about 4.5 billion years and billions of species have gone extinct throughout our planet’s history. The rapid loss of species we are seeing today is estimated by experts to be between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate.

Nature is powerful, it consumes everything. As we can see decades after the nuclear Chernobyl disaster in Eastern Europe, wildlife in that area defies radiation. Even though it contains some of the most contaminated land in the world, it has become a haven for wildlife. The exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear power station is teeming with life. There may be plutonium in the zone, but there is no herbicide or pesticide, no industry, no traffic, no people. There is nothing to disturb the nature.

The nature takes over the abandoned buildings inside the Exclusion Zone. The benefits to wildlife of removing people from the zone have far outweighed any harm from radiation.

The site specific installation “The Exclusion Zone – Dystopia or utopia?” is taking place in the unique, confined window space of the Pro Arts Gallery Project Space. The work represents a hypothetical catastrophe (nuclear, tsunami, earthquake, or else caused by global warming or political conflicts) that happened at the site. After some time, nature will take over the space. Eventually, we might ask ourselves whether the scene looks more like a utopian of a dystopian landscape.

Anita Sulimanovic is a visual artist known for her site-specific sculptures and installations made with recycled materials and found objects. Born in Croatia, she completed her BFA studies in sculpture at the Zagreb Academy of Fine Arts during the Yugoslav Wars. In 2002 she moved to Scotland to pursue an MFA in Sculpture at the Edinburgh College of Art, graduating in 2004. At the time she won the competition to design the “Planet Award” sculpture for the “BBC World Music Awards”. She had solo and group shows in Croatia, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Poland, South Korea, the UK, and the US. She uses a broad range of art processes from photography, sculpture, and site-specific art, to performance, video, and sound pieces. The materials she uses are always strictly subordinate to the idea, whether it is socio-political or about the symbolism of organic life. Upon immigrating to the US in 2008, Anita has shown her work in California, Hawaii, and Pennsylvania. In 2014 she moved permanently to the San Francisco Bay Area and founded Studio 1.6 Art School where she teaches studio art disciplines and continues her art practice. In 2018, Sulimanovic has been selected to be part of NYFA Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program: Oakland.


Gregory Montreuil: Why Not?


Students from the Pro Arts’ Youth Fellows program have taken a critical eye to the way messages constantly speak to them from glowing screens to billboards to lines painted on pavement. These messages from both advertisements and the built environment transmit direct messages to students to behave like this, look like that, be more successful, more hot, more compliant. These students are talking back. They have something to say.

Pro Arts’ Youth Fellows program integrates arts education, exhibition opportunities, professional arts training and youth development in four Oakland High Schools. The 2017 Youth Fellows program ran for twelve weeks from January through May 2017. This year 40 students participated in the program, led by Pro Arts’ Teaching Artist, Christopher White.


Opening Reception: Saturday, May 13, 2 -4pm

Pro Arts’ Youth Fellows Program and their final exhibition BackTalk is generously funded by The City of Oakland’s Cultural Funding Program, the Walter & Elise Haas Fund, and Arts for Oakland Kids.


Iterations of the KitchenOUSD Transitional Kindergarten + Kindergarten Students

Facilitated by Paula Hansen, Pro Arts Teaching Artist

February 3 – 24, 2017 

Inspired by the exhibition in our main gallery Technologies of the Kitchen (Lasse Lau & Flo Maak), Pro Arts teaching artist, Paula Hansen organized an exhibition for Pro Arts’ Project Space, in which OUSD TK-K students expressed their ideas about identity through art.

Through an unconventional use of kitchen materials, students created a collective work that represents and visually conveys personal and shared identities. Art materials included kitchen twine, muslin, tea bags (of multiple origins), as well as markers. Each student was given a swath of muslin on which to craft a personal flag, using color, line, and pattern to visually express one’s feelings.

Classrooms included students from Community United Elementary (Dana Parsons, Teacher), Reach Academy (Carmina Portea, Teacher) and Bridges Academy at Melrose (Bernadette Zermeno, Teacher).


Paula Malesardi Hansen’s work resides at the interstice of art, design and education. Paula moved from New York, where she was born and raised, to San Francisco in 1998, after receiving her Bachelor of Fine Arts from School of Visual Arts. Her work has been featured in exhibitions and events at galleries and alternative spaces including Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Adobe Books Backroom Gallery, Southern Exposure and New Image Art. Paula is currently earning her Integrated Learning Specialist Certificate through the Alameda County Office of Education.


Opening Reception: Friday, February 3, 2017, 6 – 9pm.

Iterations of the Kitchen is generously funded by The City of Oakland’s Cultural Funding Program, the Walter & Elise Haas Fund, and Arts for Oakland Kids.


Chin Study, 2015 (Drawings & Animation) &  Smoke Stack Castle, 2016 (Animation) 

by @traymedia (Tatiana Ray)

January 6 – January 27, 2017

Tatiana Ray is a multidisciplinary artist from the Bay Area. She received a Bachelor’s in Performance and Anthropology from Saint Mary’s College in 2012.  A mixture of traditional performance training and self-taught visual techniques pronounces her subjects as expressive characters. Growing up onstage fostered a fascination for character.  Her use of visual work helped as a coping technique for documenting and surviving the performance industry. Later her visual and performance work became a support in tandem. She produces work in a multitude of mediums to explore the emotional, surreal and political. She has exhibited through BASEarts, The Art and Culture Commission and Studio Morey. She has been featured in many group shows including The Dreams of Yesterday, and the Dreams of Today and Experimental Film. Her most recent project, a series of colorful portraits, has toured the Bay Area since June 2015. Tatiana lives and works in Martinez, CA.


Opening Reception: Friday, January 6, 2017, 6 – 9pm


$148,475.59 by James David Lee

December 2 – December 21, 2016 

James Lee

$148,475.59 is an installation that presents the paper documentation of James David Lee’s student loan debt, which includes his loan application, promissory note, bank correspondence, and debt management materials from the lender. These are all evidence of the $148,475.59 that the artist must repay.

Lee’s installation explores the personal, political, and economic dimensions of debt. Debt often arises from individual aspirations (getting a certain degree, owning a home in a certain place), yet financial institutions, when they transform this debt into financial products, aggregate, average, and anonymize these singular, human characteristics. By doing this, financial institutions look to quantify and reduce risk, but that risk is wily and unpredictable with unique circumstances at play. Credit risk is inextricable from societal factors of class and race, ultimately raising questions about debt as an instrument of structural injustice.


Opening Reception: Friday, December 2, 2016, 6 – 9pm


She Breathes by Bre Gipson 

October 8 – November 12, 2016


She Breathes offers a peak into a possible new world, hidden within our own. For this installation, Gipson creates life-size sculptures of crystallized globs and dripping forms to place the viewer in an environment between fantasy and reality. To create these new landscapes, Gipson uses a variety of materials including foam, latex paint, glass, synthetic hair, salt, sugar, crystals, plastic, drinking straws, and bouncy balls. Gipson aims to explore the unknown and exploit our understanding of what is real by constructing new environments from disregarded materials.


Opening Reception: Friday, October 8, 2016, 6 – 9pm


Musical Chairs by Warith Taha

September 2 – September 30, 2016 

Warith Taha

Pro Arts Project Space presents Musical Chairs by Warith Taha that incorporates assemblage-altered chairs to explore the gentrification process and its impact on the Bay Area art scene, local artists, and long-time residents. As a metaphor for the displacement and movement of populations, Musical Chairs examines the way housing development works, and fails, in low-income communities—where when the music ends, there is always someone left, without a place to sit. The chairs used in the exhibition Musical Chairs thus act as functional signifiers for the processes of gentrification, displacement and dislocation—all prevalent in our local neighborhoods today.


Opening Reception, Friday, September 2, 2016, 6 – 9pm


2 x 2 Solos by Dimitra Skandali

July 7, 2016 – August 28, 2016

Dimitra Skandali 2 x 2

Dimitra Skandali’s site-specific installation of found, natural and manmade materials exploring the desire for connectivity, the fragility of networks and the effects of displacement in relationship to the body.

2 x 2 Solos is a series of solo exhibitions featuring new work from four accomplished emerging artists based in the Oakland/Bay Area. The program recognizes artistic excellence and supports the freedom to create challenging and noncommercial work. The July pairing features artist Dimitra Skandali in now the weakening shadow remains, and its cracked confidence…, curated by Samantha Reynolds.


Opening Reception: Friday, July 7, 2016, 6 – 9pm


Home by Jessica Wassil & Mads Vind Ludvigsen

May 6, 2016 – June 27, 2016


In connection to the exhibition Home, Pro Arts Project Space presents an installation by artists Jessica Wassil and Mads Vind Ludvigsen. 


Opening Reception: Friday, May 6, 2016, 6 – 9pm


Posters for Imaginary Events by Shapes Collective

April 13, 2016 – April 27, 2016

Posters for Imaginary Events

Posters for Imaginary Events uses interviews and personal ephemera to generate a series of fictional and actual event posters. Shapes Collective (Dana Dart-McLean and Amanda N. Simons) interviewed community members at SAHA (Satellite Affordable Housing Associate) to generate text and gather images for a series of 5 collaboratively produced with those community members original art posters.


Opening Reception: Friday, April 13, 2016, 6 – 9pm


Sense Memories by Elisabeth Nicula

March 4, 2016 – April 9, 2016


Pro Arts Project Space presents Sense Memories, Elisabeth Nicula’s exploration into image and experience. Nicula’s projects begin with repetitive mark-making. For the past few years she has been engaged with real and implied movement across several media—woodcuts, GIFs, videos, websites—and has been developing narrative within what is fundamentally a process-driven work. For Sense Memories, Nicula searched through her hard drive and phone for snapshots that she had forgotten, treating her digital cache as a source of found objects that are discrete moments from her life, remembered by machinery. Human memories are imperfect, exaggerated, or conflated, but exist in the fullness of an inner life, here she conveys an impression of these abstracted memories via the GIF animations.


Opening Reception: Friday, March 4, 2016, 6 – 9pm


I Got You, Babe by Oskar Lawrence Brent Malone

February 9, 2016 – March 6, 2016


Oskar Lawrence Brent Malone utilizes media outlets, video, performance, sculpture, and crossed medias to explore identities rooted from deeply diverse demographical & fantasy-realities”. His films and sculptures expose and challenge stereotypes, bigotry, and cognitive dissonance with humor and plot twists. Malone lives and works in Oakland, CA.


Opening Reception: Friday, February 9, 2016, 6 – 9pm


From Me to You by Valerio Figuccio

January 6, 2016 – February 7, 2016


In February 2015, Valerio Figuccio traveled to Ginostra, a village on the volcanic island of “Stromboli”. Stromboli is one of the archipelagos of the Aeolian Islands, which are located north of Sicily, Italy. The volcano on the island is still active. After the last major eruption in 1930, about 80% of the residents left the island. Inspired by the movie “Stromboli” by Roberto Rossellini (1950), Figuccio visited the island for the first time in summer 2014. The video installation is a portrait of the island, the people and their everyday life. Figuccio looked for people who have already experienced eruptions and asked them about their relationship with the island, the village and the volcano. The protagonists live and work in Ginostra in constant certainty that any time another eruption could happen. 


Opening Reception: Friday, January 6, 2016, 6 – 9pm