THIS IS OAKLAND ~ Gondola Servizio, Shift Local and a book signing…

“True belonging is born of relationships not only to one another but to a place of shared responsibilities and benefits.

We love not so much what we have acquired as what we have made and whom we have made it with.”
—Robert Finch

flamenco-114342_LI love the beginnings of things.. and the beginning of my friendship with April Quinn of Gondola Servizio on Oakland’s Lake Merritt was when I was in grad school at CAL in the late 90s and I had become obsessed with Flamenco ~ the sound of heals clicking, the color red. That’s how we met ~ dancing on stage, in cascading voluminous ruffled skirts, classical guitar guiding our feet. Fast forward 14 years and April contacting me to buy one of my dresses for an Art Deco event, I invite her and her husband Angelino to a salon dinner that weekend, and soon after we decided to collaborate on an event that celebrates Oakland, the town in which we both have chosen to raise our families.

Our other overlapping love is Italy, in particular Venice, where I worked in the art world in my mid-20s and eventually got married, sunrise, Dogana in September of 2000. We knew of this Venice connection years ago when we met dancing, but since then April and her husband Angelino opened “Gondola Servizio” with an accompanying gift shop next to Lake Chalet and we thought it would be fun to install my “Wings of the Dove” collection in the intimate space. My arrival at Gondola Servizio a couple weeks ago brought me back to the months I lived in Venice, the low ceilinged shops, the sculptural masks, colorful mosaic~ed Venetian glass and of course the water that loomed everywhere. The clothes filled the space perfectly. I was taken back to that “La Serenissima” world, and I realized the potency of craftsmanship, Old World-Style, and all that I missed in Venice, which surprisingly has sprouted around us now in an Oakland Renaissance that can be found in the farmers markets, brick and mortar shops, care to detail in the things made locally, but most of all the communities that have emerged in different neighborhoods throughout the city.Below a few thoughts from April, and Marc and Mari of Shift Local, on WHY Oakland, the business each of them has in here, and the event (one of many) that brings it all together…

Wings of A dove0539016_46348_MC_Tx360     1233459_10151930549255815_155093680_n

Above, left ~ 1997 Wings of the Dove, based on Henry James 1902 novel. Center ~ the Charles and Patricia Lester dress that inspired my SNOW 2013 collection gown, pictured below. Right ~ with Lloyd Bernberg, sunrise, dogana, Venice, September 14th 2000.


photo 7

THIS IS OAKLAND book signing and PIC Oakland reception, with gondola rides all night long

THIS IS OAKLAND: A Guide to the City’s Most Interesting Places
by Melissa Davis, Photography by Kristen Loken

PIC Oakland ~ submit your favorite image of Oakland to the competition by August 31st 2014 HERE


September 4th 2014, 5:30pm to 8pm
at Gondola Servizio, 1520 Lakeside Drive, Oakland, on the Lake Chalet docks…

Come sip prosecco, enjoy appetizers overlooking Lake Merritt; and get your THIS IS OAKLAND book signed, meet the 10 finalists from the PIC Oakland competition, take a gondola ride, check out cari borja/clothesmaker’s WINGS OF THE DOVE collection, Lorna Moglia’s glass jewelery and other beautiful Venetian and local finds in the the gift shop … because THIS IS OAKLAND…


INTERVIEW #46 / April Quinn and Marc Angelo Callado, at Lake Chalet, Lake Merritt, Oakland

APRIL QUINN ~ On how Gondola Servizio came to be in OAKLAND ~ “We started it in 1999, before the Renaissance of Oakland. We decided to take the risk. People would ask why why why, and I said why not? Oakland had so much bad publicity but has totally transformed. No one asks me that question any more. We really rode the wave and feel that we were one of the first entrepreneurs who invested in Oakland’s Renaissance…

A20…Angelino grew up in Canada. His dad was a professor at Waterloo, and then in Austria. He was an international kid that didn’t belong anywhere. He started doing bicycle tours in Italy; and when he had a month off he would spend it in Venice. He had a Masters in Theater and Italian Renaissance Literature. He is also a musician and a singer ~ so what do you do with that? Gondola Servizio was an extension of Venetian history, rowing and authenticity. We were passionate about both the artisan and the authenticity aspect of the boats and Venetian history. I started with importing Venetian masks and glass, but what has been even more inspiring is featuring several local designers in the gift shop. Locally made and Italian-inspired glass art jewelry by Lorna Moglia, clothing, books, art, and even an animated DVD Leonardo by Pixar animator Jim Capobianco can be found at the gift shop at the Lake Chalet. And you, Cari Borja, who I have been buying designer clothing from for years, is even featured in our gift shop!

We had 2 locations for Gondola Servizio ~ one in Napa at the Napa River Inn and Angelino works in the Italian wine import business too. But that space is being renovated. The one on Lake Merritt was historically built for boating and a restaurant, and they brought it back to the original function. Oakland was actually designed to be the countryside of SF, but with the railroad system, African Americans came and there was a population change. The rest of the world thinks it’s a battleground, but now what we see are all kinds of young investors with hot ideas opening shops in Oakland. Artists following our belief that Oakland is where to be, and taking the risk is really what is changing the climate of Oakland. And for this reason, Marc and Mari’s movement of Shift Local and Oakland Grown is so important. I totally support what they are doing. Buy local and support local artisans, restaurants, and cafes. Buying locally made and grown is an important message -it’s what will keep Oakland cool and vital!

Our event and Photography contest is really just our way of celebrating Oakland, and the locals who have something unique and positive to say about the city. Shift Local and Gondola Servizio basically want to send the message to support Oakland’s revitalization by patronizing local artists. It’s really simple, but really important!

A40  A60


A12   A11  A10

Above, left ~  Gondola Servizio’s cabin covered gondola, or Felze, with Autumn from San Francisco’s Dark Garden.
Center ~ On the Napa river with the Shakespeare company doing Othello. Right ~ Venetian leather masks sold in the giftshop.



Marc Angelo Callado and Mari Dani Porciuncula Bandoma on WHY OAKLAND ~ “SHIFT LOCAL collaborates with indie businesses in implementing fun and rewarding social campaigns, contests and events to encourage the SF Bay Area to shift spending from big box stores and national chains to supporting indie, locally-owned businesses…Oakland represents diversity, forward-thinking and open-mindedness. There are so many men & women entrepreneurs that live and do business here who would rather help find a solution to problems than maximize their profit potential. Mari and I have reached out to businesses from Dublin to SF but Oakland business owners are the most accessible and willing to take time out of their busy day to speak with you on how to make the community better. April is a perfect example of this. I grew up in an environment where the hosts of the Filipino parties or visiting Filipino homes in general, greet you with big genuine smiles and keep reminding you to keep eating (even when you’re full). They just want you to have a great time and be extremely satisfied for being a guest at their home. They are all about making guests feel like they’re at home. It’s this kind of hospitality I expect and have come to love about visiting indie locally-owned businesses. It’s amazing when you walk in to a store and have the owner welcome you as if you are stepping into their second home. You can tell that these business owners see you more than just another business opportunity but a member of the community.”

A61   A62   A65

Above ~ Mari, Lorna and I wearing some of my Wings of the Dove-inspired dresses, with gondolier Angelino. Photos by Marc Angelo Callado.


From Venice to Oakland and back again… it’s the love of the local, the intimacy of exchange and the connections we make both past and present ~ that brought us together once again to celebrate and take a moment to reflect on how far this city has come… How we tell that story is important and Melissa Davis’s brilliant book THIS IS OAKLAND is the beginning of that story, encompassing the vision of an idea of a community of people inspired by their surroundings. And Shift Local, which actively creates events around the city’s brick and mortar spaces, highlights how little shifts in the way we purchase and spend our dollars have real changes in the larger economy and our movements through culture and ultimately the world in which we live.


photo: Tony Moglia

“Some people think they are in community, but they are only in proximity. True community requires commitment
and openness. It is a willingness to extend yourself to encounter and know the other.” ~ David Spangler


Venice, collage, by Lloyd Bernberg

Be first to comment