Best Artist

Monica Canilao

Oakland artist Monica Canilao creates the kind of distinctive art that is so enrapturing in its aesthetic that it kind of makes you wish the real world could look the way she must view it: a world where wispy-limbed women wear small swaying houses like turtle shells, geometric shapes oversee cityscapes, and every discarded scrap of fabric, wood, and paper is repurposed into some whimsical edifice. Canilao, who earned her BFA from California College of the Arts, churns out a fervent assortment of skillful drawings, paintings, collages, and installations that are inarguably East Bay-influenced, in part because much of her work is composed of found materials that she carefully combs and culls from city streets. In recent years her talent has been widely recognized in glossy magazines and at faraway galleries — recently she's been in Michigan using discarded goods to transform a dilapidated Detroit house into a sort of walk-in wonderland — but the heart behind her art remains in Oakland.

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