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Best Shops To Buy Affordable Art In The East Bay

(credit: Oakland Museum of California)


Are you looking for a change of scenery, filling up blank walls or have you moved? Decorating with affordable art is a great way to refresh your environment. And if you have a brand new interior, celebrate your move. Once the headache of packing and unpacking is done, you can enjoy the fun aspects of moving. Settling into a new place in a new neighborhood is always a daunting experience. But once the fundamentals are in place, from toothbrush to mattress to Wi-Fi, it's time to bring some color into your new home with affordable art. Find it at these East Bay shops.

2950 College Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94705
(510) 647-9355

Your pocketbook and your community spirit will thank you. Owners Christina and Skye have created a hub of activity featuring eight rotating artists' works hung every month and a monthly gallery reception on the second Friday. "We make certain that 80 percent of our original pieces are priced at $200 or less. Budget-minded students are among those who walk away really pleased with a great buy, often after personally meeting the artist," said Christina Begley. Take note renters; this gallery offers advice on displaying, including QuakeHold putty and museum wax. Ceramics, oils, unframed charcoal drawings, black and white photographs, limited edition linocuts and screen prints are among the curated collection featuring mostly local artists.

2361 Ashby Ave., Suite A
Berkeley, CA 94705
(510) 665-8900

Prints at Trickster run from $5 to $150 and graphic novels from $299. Find this high-ceilinged, natural light-flooded space at the rear of the building. This shop offers a wide variety of drool-worthy art that makes a trip to this 'hood so special. "We specialize in creator-owned illustrative and graphic art," Anita Coulter commented on the unique display of comics, animation, original fine art and collectible vinyl toys. Some of the area's most influential artists and designers are represented. Trickster is also a launchpad for new talent in this well-curated collection run by a quartet of experts.

Oakland Museum of California Store
1000 Oak St.
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 318-8510

Savvy affordable art shoppers do not overlook museum stores. A museum gift shop provides a curated look at the most famous and popular highlights of the permanent and visiting exhibitions. Always a treasure trove for prints, many are priced under $20. Address concerns about damage to walls by buying an easel on which to display unframed art. What you save on framing can go towards an easel that you can always take with you whenever you move again. Check out last year's art calendars, often under $15, when you visit sale shelves. Each one offers 12 pages that can be mounted in plexiglass frames from Ikea. Museum memberships attract further discounts.

Studio Seven Arts
400 Main St.
Pleasanton, CA 94566
(925) 846-4322

In the heart of downtown Pleasanton, what could be more pleasant than browsing among the original and limited editions by local and national artists, especially when it's all for sale? See dozens of talented artists representing multiple medias and approaches from abstract to landscape. Fall in love with the up-to-the-minute sense of the whimsical in the still lifes by Christopher Stott. "We can start at a modest pice range that suits families," says Jan Mahood. "Children set out their paper and crayons on the floor at our events. We have a really inclusive community feel." Each time you visit, expect to find something new and thought-provoking, leaving you feeling more complete than when you arrived. Remembering that the frame is part of your art, custom framing and solid advice is on hand, too.

Vessel Gallery
471 25th St.
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 893-8800

In a wonderful historic warehouse transformed from horse livery to art gallery, Lonnie Lee has breathed new life into the space. She says, "It's near and dear to me to present artists with a love of nature and a commitment to it. I'm able to surprise and delight audiences month-to-month with a changing exhibition of local and international artists, all of whom have distinctive and authentic voices." Look at original items under $1,000 from exhibiting artists who may have small edition prints starting from $150, art which will appreciate in value in coming years. Likewise, that same artist may be exhibiting works of museum quality for serious art collectors. Winner of several best art gallery awards, Vessel is certainly the people's choice.

Laurie JM Farr is a freelance writer covering all things in her adopted San Francisco. A dedicated urbanite, she's a transplanted New Yorker by way of a couple of decades in London as a hotel sales and marketing manager. Follow her work on @ReferencePlease, USA Today, Yahoo! and on

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