Art on the (Other) Avenue: Deco Art

Monday, March 9, 2015

Among a short string of businesses on the northwest side of Claremont Avenue just before it passes under the Grove-Shafter Freeway toward Temescal, Deco Art's stylized green sign stands out. In a location where the Bay Printmakers Society originally made its home in the mid-'50s, a neighborhood artmaking tradition carries on. Caroline Stern, owner of Deco Art, is a graduate of CCAC (California College of Arts and Crafts, now California College of the Arts, or CCA) and has used the business for the last 20 years as a base for work in fine art, murals, faux finish, furniture finishing, stenciling, color consultation, and interior and exterior painting.

With such an enterprising range of interests and services, it is fitting that Deco Art is also used as a space in multiple dimensions. As a gallery, Deco Art hosts 2-4 solo or group exhibitions a year for emerging community artists. The next show, "Modern Iconoclasm," will feature stained glass artwork by Dani Robinson paired with paintings and drawings from CCA MFA student Nate Petterson. An opening is scheduled for April 17 (6-9pm). In addition to exhibition space, Stern teaches classes for adults and children at Deco Art, with a new series of classes planned for the spring.

Looking toward a "renaissance for art" in Rockridge, Stern has a vision for more public murals and decorative adornment for everything from utility boxes to business interiors. In 2013, her collaborative mural work was featured in the Oakland Tribune by columnist Tammerlin Drummond. And while she sees the potential in Rockridge's future, she is also connected to the neighborhood's past and present: "Rockridge has been my gateway to Oakland and the Bay. I have found a community of artists in the neighborhood. I enjoy the diversity and have known a lot of the original Italian residents and I continue to try and engage my neighbors in city politics by hosting gatherings and art shows for people to meet their community."

Deco Art, 5495-C Claremont Avenue, is open for art exhibitions and classes. Proprietor Caroline Stern has a portfolio of work online at, and can be contacted at or 510/593-4574.

Carl Schmitz is Art Research Librarian at the Richard Diebenkorn Foundation. He was in the last UC Santa Cruz class taught by Magic Humanist muralist Eduardo Carrillo, and can be reached at