‘FEELS’ Elevates Bay Area Artists, An Interview with Founder Max Gibson

The Oakland art and music scene will be heading to Richmond on June 16th for the sixth edition of FEELS, a music and art exhibition celebrating the creativity of the Bay Area and beyond. Filling 45,000 square feet of the Craneway Pavilion, FEELS6 is sure to be an event not to be missed, with over a dozen musical performances, including Kelis, Princess Nokia, Mykki Blanco and more. Plus visual artwork from more than a few of the most cutting-edge artists in the Bay, including Lonnie Holley, Chaz Bear, Kesh, Jeffrey Cheung, Yetunde Olagbaju and Muzae Sesay.

The FEELS6 season was opened back in April at the Berkeley Museum & Pacific Film Archive with a one-night-only film exhibition along with live performances. This was a perfect accompaniment to BAMPFA’s current exhibition Way Bay, which showcases work from Bay Area artists spanning the last two centuries. Stemming from this historical tableau of our local geography, FEELS6 highlights the artists working here and now–no matter their medium.

We sat down with FEELS founder, Max Gibson, to find out more about the event and its hosting organization, Wine & Bowties.

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All images courtesy of Max Gibson

Well, I just feel old and dumb for not knowing about FEELS – it sounds like an incredible event. Where did the idea come from for the first version?

Originally, FEELS was born in a warehouse in West Oakland. It was a small group art show, with about ten artists and a few DJs, hosted by Wine & Bowties. We had played around with a bunch of different concepts for experiences from art shows and parties, to speaker panels and concerts, and the first FEELS was an amalgamation of many of those early experiences.

How did you form a partnership with BAMPFA?

We feel really lucky to work with the museum, and honestly, I think both parties saw it as a natural connection to make. The museum has some really incredible art and film programming that we knew our audience, and lots of young creative folks in Oakland would be into—we figured we could be helpful in making that introduction. In terms of FEELS, BAMPFA offered us their space and some creative resources that I think will help us take the experience to a new level.

It seems there is a focus on radical expression and imagination. What does that mean to you and why put such a focus on it?

Celebrating creative expression lies at the foundation of a lot of our work. Through Wine & Bowties, we’ve built a platform to highlight the creative works of people that may or may not always see themselves as artists. At FEELS we’re looking to explore these boundaries to their fullest extent by working with world-class artists who embody the creative spirit our work is founded upon.

With a name like FEELS, you’re obviously trying to evoke something out of attendees. With world-class music and art, it’s going to be hard not to feel at least something at the Craneway Pavilion. How are you feeling? Are you expecting any sort of experience yourself?

We’re feeling good—but yes, it’s a lot of work. But when it’s something you’re passionate about it doesn’t quite feel like work. We’re excited to show our community what we’ve been working on and excited to use our platform to celebrate these incredible artists.

Who is/are Wine & Bowties? You have a beautiful site highlighting art, music, culture, business, and more—all with the focus being on the Oakland community rather than your own promotion. What are your goals with the organization?

Wine & Bowties is an art and culture platform founded by two friends from the Bay Area, Max [Gibson] and Will [Bundy]. Over time, the operation has expanded, as we work with dozens of talented creatives from various disciplines to run the site and produce our events. Again, we’re building platforms that can celebrate the creative work of people our community champions and believes in. And so, from the jump, the strategy has always been to help ourselves by helping elevate the dreams of others.

The goals of Wine & Bowties are pretty broad, but the common goal is to have fun making a living supporting the artists and creative people we believe in.

Saturday, June 16, 3PM – 2AM
Craneway Pavilion, Richmond, CA
$30-$100, Tickets