Tag Archives: oakland graffiti

Oakland Is… another installment by TDK Crew

This is a happy story. It’s a win-win. It’s a collaboration between art and business and it’s a boon for the local community and our beloved city. We’ll start at the beginning…

Wrist Ship Supply is the business. According to their website they are “the world’s largest ship supplier,” providing goods and services to support the shipping vessels & crews that transport goods around our planet. Pretty cool. About two years ago they acquired a new location in West Oakland on Peralta Street (between 16th & 17th) and it looked like this:

photo courtesy FGP

photo courtesy FGP

As you can see the building was a bit of a mess. Through a desire to be good stewards of their new neighborhood, they decided to invest in a building makeover that would honor the spirit and tradition of Oakland.

This is where Sage comes in. Sage is the founder of Fuming Guerilla Productions (FGP), a production company that specializes in “matchmaking” between artists and clients wishing to commission works. Sage was the middleman: developing the proposal, handling the budget, and managing the project so Wrist could rest easy knowing their makeover would come in on time and under budget, and, of course, finding the right artists for the job.

Meet Oakland graffiti artists and members of TDK Crew, Norman Chuck (aka “Vogue”) and Mike “Bam” Tyau. Vogue was the lead artist for the project and the mural concept and design is all his. A long time Oakland resident, he knew of the neighborhood’s important railway history, and chose that as the driving theme.

I wrote a bit about this here, but basically in the late 1800’s, Oakland was designated as the western terminus of the Transcontinental Railway. The trains ran all the way across the country to land in West Oakland, turning Oakland into a major transportation hub early in its development. Just blocks from Wrist’s building, the old 16th Street station was built in 1912 and served as the major disembarkation point for a large population of African Americans migrating from the South for jobs and better lives. It resulted in a major transformation of the city, and it’s that history that’s being honored here.

oaktownart_20140821_1The mural is huge, spanning three sides of the building, and has been several weeks in the making, with work still continuing. While Vogue and BAM are leading the effort, several guest artists and interns are contributing as well, adding a level of complexity to the project, as Vogue noted it’s important to assess each artists’ skill level and determine how best to put their talents to work. Additionally, this work is all done with aerosol spray paint which is typically applied to relatively smooth surfaces, so the building’s walls of textured brick and metal screened windows proved challenging. But the results are absolutely beautiful!

Here is the 17th Street side of the building which features a massive ship and the iconic Oakland shipping cranes as a nod to Wrist’s industry and Oakland’s importance as a major port. The top reads “Oakland is… ” which is a series the TDK Crew has begun in an effort to highlight the history and unique flavor of our great city. This is the third installment of the “Oakland is… ” series.

oaktownart_20140821_9 oaktownart_20140821_10

The first was painted across from Brown Sugar Kitchen on Mandela Parkway and is an homage to the old Cypress Freeway that once existed there before being damaged by the ’89 Loma Prieta Earthquake. It reads “Emerging from the rubble and dust clouds of tragedy is the spirit of Oakland: bright, abundant, and relentless!

oaktownart_20140821_11

The second was painted in Jack London square near Kimball’s as a tribute to the Oakland A’s and in an effort to sway the team to “STAY” here in Oakland, which thankfully, is now resolved. Go A’s!

photo courtesy TDK Crew

photo courtesy TDK Crew

These efforts are the TDK crew’s way of showing that graffiti isn’t just a nuisance. It really is Art (with a capital A) that can be used for positive purposes such as beautifying neighborhoods and building civic pride. Their goal is also to act as role models for young graffiti artists, showing that aerosol art can be used for much more than simple tagging.

And on that note, let’s see the rest of their latest homage to Oakland… The longest wall (running down Peralta) features a series of railcars, complete with graffiti tags for “authenticity”.

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Note: locomotive above only outlined. This wall still in progress. oaktownart_20140821_5 oaktownart_20140821_6 oaktownart_20140821_7

And here’s the 17th Street side:

oaktownart_20140821_8

These guys will be putting the finishing touches on the mural over the next couple of weeks. Stop by and check it out…

Also, there’s an event happening tomorrow called Dream Day 2014 to honor the life and legacy of Mike “Dream” Francisco, an original member of the TDK crew. There’ll be live painting, music performances, DJ’s, food, and more. Here’s the scoop:

Saturday, August 23rd from 2pm to 7pm
Greenpeace Yard
955 7th street, Oakland

the writing’s on the wall…

oakland graffiti, oakland graffiti writing

When I started this blog in 2009 my idea was to post a picture every day.  It soon became something else, but that was the start. And I’ve decided, at least for a bit, to try to get back to the start. Because frankly, I’m having a bit of a hard time re-starting where I left off, and I think what’s hanging me up is the writing.  So what the hell… Who needs words when pictures are worth thousands of ‘em?

Though I haven’t had the bandwidth for writing anything good or interesting, I have been taking pics here and there. So I think I’ll just start posting a few without saying so much, although I do want to say I think this is a pretty cool shot.

Express yourself…

So I know Friday is s’posed to be partyin’ partyin’ fun fun fun lookin’ forward to the weekend, but not for me. Not today.

This sticker pretty much sums up how I feel, so I’m just puttin’ it out there.  It’s healthy, right?

oakland sticker art, graffiti stickers east bay, street art stickers

And why am I such an oscar-the-grouch this morning? Little things really. Insignificant if you think about it, but I’d rather vent for a minute and be done with it.

  • First, my little survey yesterday was an utter failure. Only 4 responses, two of which were pathetically un-helpful (“Oaktown Art” and “vagina” – thanks B!) The two more serious answers were “street art” (here you go!) and “new art in Oakland I haven’t seen” – hmmm, that’s a toughie since I’m not you, but I’ll work on it…
  • Next, because I am a Luddite and am late to the Twitfest, I’ve just discovered that someone’s already using my handle (oaktownart). The nerve! I actually tweeted him (my first tweet ever) to ask if he’d consider changing his name, and he replied NO, despite the fact that until yesterday, he had only 1 tweet under his belt. (sigh) What to do dear readers? Do we launch a Colbert-style assault to humiliate him into changing? Or do I change? And if so, please tell… what should my twitter handle be?

There.  I feel a bit better.  Now on with the “Gettin’ down on Friday”…

Wall St. F&*ked Us!

This is a little piece of street art I found in downtown Oakland a few weeks ago… actually framed and mounted (epoxied?) to a corner trash receptacle.

wall street, nite owl, greed, wall street greed

I love this on so many levels… the fact that the artist actually framed it as a piece of fine art; the symbolism conveying greed, and unthinking robotic behavior; and of course, the title, which is sadly sooo true.

I *think* (notice I did not say “assume,” for which I was lambasted last time) it’s by the same artist who does the Nite Owl stickers, one of which I featured ages ago on a pole outside my West Oakland loft (Put on a Happy Face). Note the same owl stencil in the lower left and a modified version on the jacket pocket.

It looks like the artist signed the piece in the upper right hand corner, but I’m too square to be able to read it.  Anyone?

I can’t help but cringe when conservative Republicans chant the disparaging mantra of “Class Warfare” whenever talk of raising tax rates on the rich is proposed.  The disparity between the rich and poor, not to mention the middle class who are far closer to the poor than the rich, has been growing for decades, and most Americans aren’t even aware of it. (Americans Underestimate U.S. Wealth Inequality)

The current distribution of U.S. wealth is about 85% to the top 10 percent of people, with the bottom 40-50 percent of the nation holding virtually no wealth at all.

CEO salaries as a percentage of worker salaries have exponentially increased over the last several decades, while average workers’ incomes have actually declined, once adjusted for inflation. (15 Mind-Blowing Facts About Wealth And Inequality In America).

And while millions of Americans saw their life savings evaporate (or at least shrink substantially) in the wake of the recent banking crisis, Wall Street executives made out with multi-million dollar bonus packages.

Yeah, they f&*ked us alright…

WHEATPASTES!!

Well, I was gearing up to move on from the whole street art thing I’ve been doing for the past week or so, but then I watched Exit Through the Gift Shop.  I know it came out like a year ago, but lamely I had yet to see it…

All I can say was it was fascinating. Both from the perspective of traveling along with the likes of Shephard Fairey, Banksy, and others during their nighttime escapades… the sheer scale of which, at times, are mind-boggling.  But also following the invention of Mr. Brainwash and his ability to completely infiltrate the conventional art scene with a little PR and a lot of hype, ultimately duping collectors into paying sh*t-tons of money for his seemingly inane pieces of rehashed pop-street-“art,” if you can call it that.  I can’t figure out if the guy’s an idiot or a genius.  But this article in the Economist (Con or can do) poses that his real success may lie in ability as a performance artist above all else…

In any case, right after watching the movie, I came across these large wheatpastes by three different artists…

I love this sleepy owl! The scale of it is quite impressive… I’m assuming it was a smaller sketch that was blown up during reproduction.  The girl below seems to be the same artist.

large wheatpaste, bart tracks, oakland graffiti, east bay wheat paste

oakland graffiti wheatpaste, owl wheatpaste, burl wheatpaste

Here’s a new one by Get Up I hadn’t seen yet…  It’s hard to tell from these pics but this one is larger than life… maybe 10 ft tall?

Get Up, Bart Track wheat paste, guy with phonograph wheatpaste

The one below looks to be a hand-drawn original and includes the words (and image) “Get on the Good Foot”. Makes me wonder if this artist has any relation to the KALX DJ The Good Foot who starts off every set list with James Brown’s “Get on the Good Foot.” Good stuff…

The Good Foot, Get on the Good Foot, oakland graffiti

Let the music move you…

Here’s another stencil by Get Up.  This one’s been up for a few months… I shot it back in October and thought it would be buffed immediately.  It’s on one of the BART track supports along MLK Jr Drive and these tend to aggressively monitored for graffiti.  I drove past this just a few days ago and it was still there.  Perhaps they’ve deemed it worthy of staying… or maybe they’re just out of money.

In any case, I love it. If you like it too, check out Get Up’s Facebook page.

Get Up Graffiti, Get Up Boom Box

Get Up, Boom Box Stencil, Get Up Graffiti Artist