Fire Season Hits Home



We wake to a Friday after five days of fire in the North Bay.  With more than 100 acres scorched, dozens dead, and fires still going.  A “hellish” week for those who have had to feel the heat in the flesh.

The ominous smell of smoke lingers over our heads reminding of the loss already had and the impending loss that sparking embers fly with.  I know I’m not the only praying that tonight’s cold air helps the firefight.

May tomorrow bring extinguished flames and cleaner air to our region.


Shutting Down Hate: Right-wing Nationalists Retreat in the 2nd Battle of Berkeley

On Sunday, August 27th a right-wing nationalist rally was scheduled to happen at Martin Luther King Jr. Park, in Berkeley’s civic center.  The planned hate party was cancelled last minute over “safety” concerns from its organizers.   The same predicament had played out the day before in San Francisco, where the organized response to a similar planned rally prompted thousands to march and openly denounce bigotry, racism, and organized hate in their city.  What was sensationalized and projected to be a violent weekend of clashes with white nationalists and a left of center responses became an overwhelming, unified response against the hate espoused by neo-Nazis, white Nationalists, and  conservative xenophobes from the San Francisco and East Bay community.

Given the outcome of the first battle in Berkeley on April 26th earlier this year and the rage prompted by Charlottesville a few weeks ago, I anticipated a strong response from the Antifa factions that were humiliated as they were punched, kicked, and run out of the  civic center last April.  Numerous response rallies marched to what many might have imagined was going to be a Berkeley civic center crawling with hate-groups and angry far-Right wingers by late afternoon.  What they found was the remnants of a loud, and often volatile debate on hate.  Although hate-groups passed on showing up, individuals whose Right-wing, racist convictions are strong enough to risk the public ridicule made their presence known.  Just like in Charlottesville, those who came defending far-Right ideas and Trump’s hate mongering agenda were debated, shouted at, and ultimately run out of the grounds.

Exiting the park I had heavy feeling in my heart that had me thinking of Dr. King.  Although the rage and indignity arises from love, I couldn’t help but to feel the ruse of power among us.  I felt no one won that day.  That’s the tragedy of it all. The powder keg was lit in Charlottesville, the clown President gave the flame oxygen, and now we have more tragedy ahead of us.

Interesting times for my camera’s lens, but such a sad state of affairs in the nation.

RIP Heather Heyer.

— JMG, Berkley CA





Birth of a Dynasty: A Camera’s Victory Lap Around Lake Merritt on Parade Day

On Thursday, June 15th the city of Oakland gathered to salute the team that won its second championship trophy in three seasons.  Looking to document the dynamic spirit of the city in a critical year of transition, I took a celebratory lap along with the team around Oakland’s Lake Merritt.

There’s much art in the spirit of a city.  I hope the selections give visitors to the site a taste of the color, joy, and breadth of diversity that Oakland breaths at this moment.  I also hope the photographs succeed in showing how the city identifies with this team and vice versa.

This championship comes with inevitable change looming for those hanging on by a string to stay in a community they know and love and those instigating the class and race shifts that are palpable.  One literally cannot ignore the way change is floating in the air.  As you will see this is not hyperbole but written across the sky for all to read. Those who follow my blog know my ongoing project is taking up gentrification as the subject of my photography.  These selection are part of a larger project coming together this year. I’m glad to anticipate this set in honor of an exemplary team and a great city.







Homes for the Homeless


Gentrification in the East Bay has prompted a rise in homelessness across the region. Outcrops of camps have lined freeway underpasses, abandoned lots, and city corners with enough space to pitch tents. The shots in this series depict the struggle for affordable housing and the manner in which life gravitates around this homeless camp on the Berkley/Oakland border. What in days past has been called the he invisible face of homelessness has become more and more visible and familiar to us as a surge of people around us fall from the grace of stability and are forced to live in tents.

This is the first installment of a series that seeks to invite the public to stop, take a closer look, and prompt viewers to begin an internal or public dialogue about the crisis in homelessness Oakland is currently experiencing.



The Glow Of Sublimating Truth

Not quite in view is a dry ice sculpture by Judy Chicago, executed at the SF MOMA on April 26, 2017. The sculpture spelled out the word TRUTH, then it was lit up with road flares to precipitate the sublimation of the dry ice. The piece is a metaphor for the way “truth” is treated in the current political landscape. From “alternative facts” to “fake news,” the weight and reliability of facts seem to be fleeting more and more. I like the way this picture communicates that nothing but a pink haze is left behind when truth is obliterated.

I’m keeping photos of the actual sculpture in the vault. This sort of documentary photography usually carries more artistic value years after the fact. It was great to work with Judy, Donald, and their crew on this once in a lifetime experience. It was a total honor to touch history with my lens.


Oakland by Night: A Photographic Profile of Oakland’s First Friday Art Walk

My love for low light photography and street photography draws me into the night, camera in hand, consistently.  The aim is always to brush up with Brassai and show Oakland’s nocturnal aura. Paris isn’t Oakland and Oakland isn’t Paris. The sleepy romantic secrets of Brassaï’s Paris are far from Oakland’s open air creative culture, its “on fleek” style, and its hyphee movements.

Hyphee in Motion: The Art of “Tut” & “Turf” Reflects the Vitality of Oakland Arts Cutting Edge

Oakland’s First Friday art walk continues to demonstrate that this city might be second to none when it comes to incubating and generating unique visionaries that push content and form in the arts.  This set was shot at First Friday, an event most think of as a showcase for the East Bay’s creative communities.  Turf (referring to the foot work) and Tut (referring to the arm work) take show case to another level as it’s energy is infectious and exalts the amazing beauty of the human form in movement.

Photographing the performing arts in lowlight without flash helps me record and show motion.  Shooting under these setting also limit the sharpness of the shots.  A fact I can live with in order to show in photographs the fleeting energy of innovative youth at the top of their game.