Tag Archives: paint

Ella Baker Center Murals

Just a stone’s throw from Mama’s Royal Cafe is the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, an action center working for justice, opportunity, and peace in urban America.  There are some wonderful murals on the exterior of their space, depicting the themes and goals on which their organization is focused.

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Co-founded in 1996 by Diana Frappier and now famous Van Jones of Green for All, the Ella Baker Center has grown in a little over 10 years from a small-scale operation with only one full time staff person, to a “grassroots powerhouse” with 24 “world-class” human rights activists.  Their work is focused through four primary campaigns designed to promote positive alternatives to violence and incarceration:

  • Books not Bars works towards redirecting California resources away from youth incarceration facilities and towards youth opportunities
  • Green Collar Jobs works towards promoting California as a leader in creating a thriving and equitable green collar economy, strong enough to provide employment opportunities for all
  • Soul of the City “works to transform Oakland into a socially just, spiritually connected, ecologically sustainable city with shared prosperity for all”
  • Heal the Streets as an outgrowth of Silence the Violence, works to provide hands on training for future social justice leaders through a 10 month fellowship program for Oakland youth and young adults (ages 15 – 18)

Ella Baker, Oakland Icons

Ella Baker is pictured above. Born in 1903 in Norfolk, VA, she grew up listening to her grandmother, a previous slave, tell stories of slave revolts. She graduated valedictorian of her college class in 1927 in North Carolina, moved to New York, and became a leading African-American civil rights leader and human rights activist for over five decades. What an incredible woman!

Black Panthers, Green Jobs Not Jails, Ella Baker Center Murals

The Ella Baker Center continues her important work into the 21st century. Please check them out… They’ve got a blog, multi-media page with music, videos, and podcasts, volunteer opportunities, and could really put your tax-deductible donations to fantastic work here in Oakland.

Ella Baker Center Mural

Green Jobs Mural in Oakland

The murals were created in 2007 through the Precita Eyes Mural Arts Center based in San Francisco, with funding from the Oakland Redevelopment Agency. Artists include: Fred Alvarado, Eli Lipppert, Gerry Chow, Anna Szumowski, Ronnie Freeman, and others.

Ella Baker Center Mural Artists

Bee Aware – Connected Worlds

Save the Honeybees…

After yesterday’s visit to Ghost Town farm and Novella’s bees, I thought I’d highlight this “bee conscious” mural along the Mandela Parkway. Though this area has seen a small amount of “greening” with the redevelopment of the parkway to a greenbelt including an extension of the Bay Trail, this is predominantly a heavy industry area. I love the fact that someone here is speaking for the bees.

BEE AWARE - CONNECTED WORLDS Mural

This piece is located at the same art compound where the giant human sculptures from my post Have you heard of this thing called Burning Man? reside. You can see a sliver of one on the left side of the shot above, which gives you a sense of scale. The mural is installed on a huge piece of curved concrete that is literally chained to the fence behind it. I’m curious if this piece was fabricated specifically for this art installation, or if it’s a salvage from something else that’s been re-purposed. Either way it’s unbelievably cool.

Honeybee Mural

Bee Aware - Save the Honeybees Mural

Below are the signatures of the artists…

Bee Aware Mural

Bee Aware Mural

May Peace Prevail on Earth

The traditional Aztec dancers from the Día de los Muertos festival reminded me of this mural I saw a few weeks ago with its blend of cultural imagery, including what appear to be various gods or goddesses.

It’s on an old boarded-up apartment building at the corner of 28th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. I wasn’t able to locate any artists’ signatures, but I did discover that the writing running along the top of the mural, which spans two sides of the building, says “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in several different languages. How beautiful is that? And how beautiful is this mural?!! The artistry is amazing.

Oakland Mural Art

The circle of black, red, and white above reminds me of some of the art I saw at the Museum of Anthropology at UBC in Vancouver, much of its collection focused on the art of the native peoples of the northwest coast. The figure of the raven is featured predominantly… legend has it that the first men were born out of a clamshell overseen by the raven (A Haida legend of the Raven and the First Men).

I wish I knew who the figure below surrounded by flames represents. Please send me some info if you happen to know.

Oakland Mural Art

Oakland Mural Art

I also love the incorporation of modern comic book characters (explorers above & warriors below) in between the dieties.

Oakland Mural Art

Oakland Mural Art

This last one looks Tibetan to me… but I really do not know. Anyone?

Oakland Mural Art

Note: later learned this to be another work by the folks at Community Rejuvenation Project.

Adam5100 & Rowan Morrison

Remember the hand stencil from SF Shout Out! the other day? Here’s the Oaktown version…

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It’s actually two hands… can you see that?

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I did a little research and found out (thanks to the gracious folks at Rowan Morrison, exterior pictured below) that the artist responsible is Adam5100. He’s a CCAC (now CCA) graduate who channeled his graffiti skills into more formal printmaking techniques there. He’s known for his use of complex multi-layered stencils, typically applied on canvas rather than concrete. If you check out his website, you’ll get the idea… it’s amazing these images are created with stencils! Here are a couple of my favs:
http://www.adam5100.com/display_image.php?image=36
http://www.adam5100.com/display_image.php?image=35

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He installed “the hand” on the side of Rowan Morrison’s building in June of 2008 in conjunction with a solo show there, entitled “The Heart Vs. The Mind in a Fight to the Finish”. I love that! Here are a couple snaps of the process, provided by Rowan Morrison (more on them further down this post… )

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He currently is exhibiting at White Walls in San Francisco for their exhibit, The Stencil Show which is up until 11/7, and also has a piece in London’s Stolen Space Gallery as part of local boys Green Day‘s commissioned pieces designated to accompany their new album 21st Century Breakdown. This guy is prolific!

And I found this great video of him doing a tiny stencil… basically a trailer for the solo show at RM. It’s only a minute long… you have to check this out!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAsqQWNkTTo

Now to Rowan Morrison… I hope you’re still with me, because this is a cool space. They’re located on 40th street near Broadway and have limited hours, but you can check them out on Fridays & Saturdays between 11am-6pm, or by special appointment. Run by husband and wife artists Pete Glover & Narangkar Glover (also CCA graduates), RM is a gallery/bookstore specializing in artist books, home grown ‘zines and special edition prints. They’ve got a great space for perusing these items in person, but if you’re more virtually inclined, they have an online store and a great blog about art books.  Please check them out.

And if you happen to make your way there… you can grab a bite to eat at Mama’s Royal Cafe just around the corner on Broadway.  I’ll probably do a whole post about Mama’s sometime in the future because it’s certainly worthy (full of funky art and fantastic food) and is simply one of my all-time oakland favs…  In the meantime, I’ll simply say, “It’s the best!

Oh… one last thing.  We’re headed to the cemetery tomorrow… mwa ha ha haaaa!

SF Shout Out!

I zipped into San Francisco early Saturday morning to pick up my new Canon G11 from Calumet.  Have you guys been there?  It’s a great professional photography store with really just about everything… cameras (of course), studio & lighting equipment, seamless supplies, printers with a wide assortment of papers, a fantastic equipment rental department, and an art gallery upstairs.

The G11 is the first camera I’ve bought in over three years since buying my 5D (except for my Holga), and I am very excited! Nearly all of the photos I’ve posted on this blog were taken either with a 8 year old camera (which isn’t particularly pocket-sized) or with my iPhone, because I am too lazy to carry my big camera everywhere. With this new smaller camera, I plan to take my photo-documentarianism to the next level! (And yes, I do believe I made up that word.)

While waiting for the camera store to open, I spotted CELLspace across the street. I haven’t been there in a few years (sadly), and I definitely don’t remember it being quite this amazingly cool outside…

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Recognize the hand above? The same stencil exists in Oakland… have you seen it? Check back for the Oaktown version, and hopefully a bit more info about the artist who created it.

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The one above reminds me of a cool poster slapped up in multiple parts by Ashby and Telegraph. It’s Berkeley, not Oakland, but peeps keep mentioning it to me so I think I’ll throw that up later this week too. Please visit again. We’ll be headed to the cemetery at the end of the week for a properly spooky Halloween!

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stay punk

So I’ve been wed to my bike these last few days because it just so happens that someone made off with my car in the wee hours of the night Sunday night (yes, Oakland does have some problems… but I prefer to focus on the positive).  It hasn’t yet turned up, and may not (sorry Mom!) so in the meantime, I continue to ride.  Which to be honest, when appropriate, is a far superior way to travel.  It’s healthy, non-polluting, low-cost, and helps connect residents with their communities by getting them out of the cars that separate them from the world around them.  Remember Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance? I do.

It’s kind of ironic because I was just blathering on and on about all the bicyclists and cycle commuting in Amsterdam and how fantastic it is, and then I come home and someone makes off with my car.  Hmmm.  I said that the universe provides (see Magic Bus post)… what I forgot to say, is be careful what you ask for.

In any case, the City of Oakland is taking great strides to make our city more bicycle friendly, and it is all happening now.  In the past ten years the city has added over 900 bike racks and 87 miles of bicycle lanes and routes.  What’s the difference between a lane and a route you ask? Or a bicycle “path” for that matter (which is another unique designation).  Check out Oakland Public Works’ website where you can read all about them.

And there’s a great little newsletter that comes out quarterly called “I [bicycle] Oakland” which provides the latest information about all things bike related, and how the city is doing with respect to implementing the objectives of its Bicycle Master Plan (2007), which include more than doubling the total current mileage of bicycle friendly byways within the city.

According to this document, 85% of all Oakland residents live within two miles of downtown or a major transit station… which basically equates to a relatively short trip on the bike.  The thing that holds most people back is the lack of safe bikeways…. so that’s where Oakland is putting most of its focus.

As I was riding yesterday, I spotted this piece…  I never would have seen it if I was in my car.

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I recognized the work because this artist had done a similar piece on a building in my neighborhood. The owner promptly painted over it, but not before I got the pic below…
Kind of creepy, but kind of cool. And definitely punk.

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