Ted Purves and Susanne Cockrell, and the Temescal Merchants Association collaborated to create The Temescal Amity Works, a community art project located in a storefront off Telegraph Avenue in Oakland and on the web. Over a year’s time, the artists maintained a community crop sharing program called The Big Backyard and hosted an open space, called Reading Room. They also produced a host of printed materials that documented various aspects of the neighborhood’s social economy and environment.
Temescal, the neighborhood where the project was based was planned as an “orchard” suburb in the 1920s and 30s and many houses still have citrus trees in their front and back yards, blackberry bushes line the creek, and plum trees stain the sidewalks. Today Temescal is a compact and diverse neighborhood near downtown Oakland. Its Merchants Association is composed of neighborhood business and property owners who reflect its diversity.
Ted Purves’s writing and curatorial focus examines the social roles of the artist and viewer as co-participants in active exchange. In 2002, he organized Generosity Projects, a weekend symposium and three commissioned public projects that examined the emergence of the transfer of useful goods and services as a contemporary medium for art. Susanne Cockrell’s performance and public work focuses on creating experiences that elevate the everyday into something full of possibility. Over the last few years she has generated increasingly interactive projects, connecting with her audience through use of knitting, shared story-telling, and conversational events.