New York native Tayleur Crenshaw moved to Oakland to pursue a corporate job at Banana Republic. Through her search for community and a love for the arts, Gold Beams’ Second Mondays event was born.
Four years ago, Crenshaw invited a few friends that she met at an open mic night to her apartment. Seven showed up, and they spent the night enjoying one another’s company and sharing their art over snacks. There were poems, journal entries and more. Because everyone wanted to do it again, Crenshaw planned to host next month.
A few months later, the open mic on every second Monday had outgrown Crenshaw’s apartment. Fifty people zigzagged up her staircase, making her loft look like its very own opera house. People came for the open mic, but they stayed for the growing community of like-minded Black artists.
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“It was just the ultimate ecosystem,” Crenshaw said. “If you were an author, you could find someone who published a book before. If you were looking for a studio, you found people that owned space.”
Today, Crenshaw is the founder of Gold Beams, an event brand that hosts its Second Mondays as its primary event. Held at Oakstop, a Black-owned coworking and event space in Downtown Oakland, the open mic night has continued to grow and now includes vendors and a production team of DJs, sound engineers, photographers and more.
When Crenshaw took the stage on July 11, she outlined the Second Mondays mission. First, the events strive to create a space that celebrates and incubates Black culture. Second, they encourage Black creatives to pursue careers in the arts.
“You like to draw?”, Crenshaw asked the crowd. “Well, so did the animators of ‘Frozen.’”
During the event, most people showed up alone. Attendees sat politely and waited for the show to start while the DJ played house music and hip-hop over the speakers.
By the end of the night, the awkwardness subsided revealing a bright and warm collective of strangers interacting with the familiarity of old friends. People were comfortable.
Dorean Raye is the Second Mondays resident photographer. She met Crenshaw on a panel for entrepreneurs and responded to their shared values in community and mental health.
“I enjoy being a small part of telling the story of what goes on here,” Raye said. “Tayleur is really a big part the intentionality here. She greets and treats everybody as if they’re family to her, and she wants everybody to have a good time and to leave here feeling like they’ve left with new friends. She will make sure to be that friend if you don’t leave with anybody else.”
Bay Area native Janae Nikole was a vendor at the July 11 event. As she set up her table covered in handmade and crystal jewelry, she explained that it was her second time at Second Mondays but she expects to continue attending.
“It’s such a great place for spoken word,” Nikole said. “You don’t find a lot of places like that these days. And I love how Black it is. Black artists, Black vendors, Black owned!”
Among the night’s performers were poets, musicians, authors and magicians. Author and local English teacher Jonathan Rice performed a short story entitled “Ebony and Ivory” from his book “I Was, Am, Will Be.” The collection of short stories is inspired by his international travels. Rice has attended Second Mondays since February, and he keeps coming back with the hopes of getting recognition for his work.
Crenshaw has plans to expand Second Mondays and has already taken steps forward through the Second Mondays-inspired concert that took place during its anniversary last October. She expects to continue with the concert series and has hopes for a festival in the future. She is even considering expanding to other cities.
In October, Second Mondays will start giving cash prizes to performers. Through grants from the California Arts Council, Gold Beams will give away $2,000 at each event for six months. The first-place winner will win $1,000, second place will win $500 and third place will get $250. The winner of the freestyle cypher at the end of night will also win $250.
Gold Beams has grown quickly, which has been a challenge for Crenshaw, but the joy that attendees radiate makes Gold Beams an “easy baby,” she said.
“The most difficult part internally has been building my capacity because this was by accident,” Crenshaw said. “I was working at Oakland School for the Arts [as a] teacher, and I taught a spoken word class. I worked with the events production team at the Oakland Museum. I didn’t know how we were going to make money with Gold Beams at first.”
More information about Gold Beams, and tickets for its Second Mondays events, can be found through its website, https://www.goldbeams.org/.