It was a jarring sensation Saturday night: From the vigil at Ghost Ship, the burned-out warehouse in Oakland’s Fruitvale where dozens died, I could walk to an art party, just a block away. It was open studios weekend in Jingletown, a tiny Oakland neighborhood between BART and the Nimitz, where new condos mix with old warehouses filled with artists.
“This is a tip jar at the bar,” said Walter Craven, the owner of Norton Factory Studios. “And we’re going to donate every dollar we make tonight to help out the people affected by the fire."
Photos of the Ghost Ship warehouse depict extravagantly decorated and cluttered rooms, and survivors described a homemade staircase to the second floor, where many were trapped. Oakland city inspectors had opened an investigation into the safety of Ghost Ship, where there were no sprinklers. At Craven’s building nearby, the studios and common spaces are clean and well lit, with backup lighting at exits in case of a fire.
“It’s up to code,” Craven said, “because we’ve engaged the city. I do know of a lot of other places, that I cannot mention, that don’t engage the city."
But artists say they often put up with unsafe conditions to secure a bigger space, or because they fear getting priced out of the Bay Area.