Tag Archives: west oakland murals

the wild wild west…

I’ve said it before… the thing I love about West Oakland is that you never know what you are going to find. On a recent sunny stretch down the Mandela Parkway, I came across this muraled building on an empty lot (determined to be an environmental clean up site upon closer inspection of the posted sign and related fine print), next to what appeared to be a small chicken farm… beautiful birds with their own fancy red house and a huge yard in which to strut their stuff.

west oakland, environmental clean up site, mandela parkway

For those too young to “get” the reference in the mural above… see the original photograph and a brief description in my post Diversity is the one thing we all have in common.

rooster in the hen house, red hen house, west oakland chicken farm

west oakland rooster, cockadoodle doo, west oakland chicken farm

west oakland art, mandela parkway mural,

west oakland mural, west oakland pink building with green robot, power salute

ART INTERVIEW: Few & Far Mural Project Oaktown

“R-E-S-P-E-C-T.”

Here’s the latest mural installment in West Oakland… it spans two huge warehouse walls along Mandela Parkway, was produced by 17 graffiti artists from around the country, and check this… they’re all women!

The event happened over the course of a few unusually cold & rainy days earlier this month, so props to these ladies for busting out some beautiful work in less than ideal circumstances. One of the artists, Meme, organized the event under the moniker Few and Far, and it will include future mural installations in various cities around the country (and possibly world). Check out my interview with Meme and photos of their amazing work…

seattle graffiti artist 179, 179 graffiti

179

few and far mural project

INTERVIEW with Meme

The graffiti art and street art scenes definitely seem to be male dominated.  But the new walls you and your crew painted on June 4th were done exclusively by women! That’s amazing. Can you talk a little bit about that? Like why you wanted to do a project with just women?

Well like most hardcore things, most men are more likely down to what ever it is. As being a female into “male dominated” things you seem to find other females that sometimes want to build a bond cuz there are fewer of us… I am that type that loves all people and has love for women doing hardcore things! So I decided with help from KSRA/Mags that we would put together a jam.

Beth Emmerich artist, Beth Emmerich mural

Beth Emmerich

Are the women & girls you worked with from Oakland? Or from all over?

Hahaha well, I think four girls are either from here or now live in the Bay area. Mags, Dime, Agana and Muse. Three of them I didn’t invite or know before, they just showed up. I liked them, so I let them paint. Very happy they came!

Here’s a list of the rest of the crew and where they’re from: Toofly (NYC), Myla (Australia/LA), Acet (NJ), Reds (Miami), KSRA (Seattle), Hops (Seattle), 179 (Seattle), Meme (Nor Cal), Beth Emmerich(SD), Rachel Pelican (Grass Valley)

mandela parkway murals, few and far murals, oakland murals

Rachel Pelican

I see that your project “Few & Far” is going be traveling to a number of cities throughout the world to do similar projects.  What’s next on the agenda?

Yes, we will be!! Watch out fellas! In Miami we will be doing a smaller F&F production during Art Basel. (Oaktown Art here:  For those who haven’t heard of it, Art Basel Miami bills itself as “the most important art show in the United States, a cultural and social highlight for the Americas… [and] the sister event of Switzerland’s Art Basel, the most prestigious art show worldwide for the past 41 years.”)

And will you pick up different artists in different locations?

Basically, we only want to surround ourselves with dedicated ladies that work well together, and aren’t competitive with each other, which happens a lot with other females. I don’t have time for that princess shit! Really any girl/women can join our collective, if their attitude is right.

siloe mural, siloette graffiti

siloette

myla graffiti, myla oakland mural, myla few and far

Myla

How did you get into graffiti art?

Long story.. All I can say is it’s a long, bumpy, rough road that you can’t get off!! lol

Are there many female role models for girls who want to get into graffiti art and street art?

YES!! I think that there are more and more every year!! And I feel we are not hiding anymore. There are some heavy hitting ladies out there world-wide, those who paved the way for us are still killin’ it, and the up and comers that are killin’ it too!

The women I admire, just to name a few are: Miss Van, Swoon, Ursala young, faith 47, Lady Pink, MadC, The Stick Up Girlz, the F&F women and so many more, too many to name! The ladies in Few and Far are very well known for being female artists. There are female gatherings like B GIRL B, and zines like C-O-P magazine, plus “Graffiti Women”the book.  Not sure there is much more than that out there…. kinda lame.

muse graffiti, women graffiti artists, mural by muse

Muse & Acet

Toofly mural oakland, Toofly few and far project

Toofly & Dime

Do you think that the themes explored are different for female artists than for men/boys?

Sometimes males tend to do perverted, macho, tough, gross stuff, which I love cuz if everything was flowery it wouldn’t be realistic. But being a female, I love pretty things just as much! But this is not true for everyone, just the majority.

Maybe you could talk about a few of the specific pieces on the Mandela Parkway murals…

Oakland has tons of graffiti right now its crazy!! Mandela pkwy has lots of murals right now which is beautiful!! Such a change from the same ol’ grey wash walls. Don’t you agree? (I do!)

meme few and far, few and far project

Meme & Hops & 179

mandela parkway murals, mandela pkwy murals

Lady Mags & Hops & Myla

It looks like each artist got their own stretch of wall.  Were any of the pieces collaborative? (I didn’t see a signature on the dragon)

The dragon was by this amazing woman 179! The Seattle girls drove 16 hours straight, got out of the car and started painting like mad women!! 179 did multiple characters and a piece as well as the cute bunny & bacon’n’eggs which spelled out 2011. We ALL worked very hard on the wall!! Reds, Beth, Rachel, Agana and I stayed out there so long I wondered if the hotel was a waste of money! We were straight camping out there!

I feel we all worked equally hard to move the ladders, scaffolding, clean up every night… we were a solid team. It took us 3 days with heavy rains and cold weather, there was definitely no little girl shit here!

179 2011, women graffiti artists, girl graffiti

179

girl graffiti murals, west oakland graffiti, oakland graffiti art

KSRA & 179

Lastly, why do you make art? And more specifically, public art?

I don’t consider myself as an artist really, I just paint graffiti. Now I’m at the age where I want to fine tune things, explore everything that interests me. I also don’t like painting in front of people, it makes me very nervous. But I’m learning that painting with positive people makes all the anxiety go away. The community in some cases loves what we are doing, so that makes me feel proud of all the years and millions of hours I put into it…

I feel art is like music, ever flowing… no one knows why, what or where it comes from, it’s this force that you can’t stop. I just wish cities were more open to art, music, youth, etc. Free for everyone to experience, no matter what age, sex, race, religion. Our society as a whole, has a lot of growing to do. We all have so much to learn from each other. So get ready… Few and Far is here! Thank you from the bottom of my heart, to every single person who helped and showed us love!! I appreciate you all and couldn’t have done it alone! ~ MEME F&F

Reds mural oakland, girl graffiti, female graffiti artists

Anagan & Reds

Anagan mural oakland

Anagan

More reading:

And lastly, if you want to get involved, contact Meme at FewAndFarEvent@gmail.com or the blog Few and Far.

Bode Strikes Again!

Just a few blocks from yesterday’s mural I came across something even more magnificent, if only for it’s sheer size. Looks like Bode and friends have been busy since we interviewed him a couple months ago… (ART INTERVIEW: Bode)

This mural, or series of murals, stretches a huge city block between 26th and 28th streets on Peralta… it’s probably two football fields long! Check it out next time you head over to the delectable Brown Sugar Kitchen, just around the corner on Mandela Parkway…

bode mural, west oakland mural, peralta street murals, oakland mural art

Bode, bode west oakland murals, west oakland murals

poseidon mural, bode mural, oakland mural art, west oakland murals

bode mural art, bode murals on peralta, murals on peralta, oakland murals

bode mural, murals on peralta, west oakland murals, mural art oakland

mural art in oakland, bode murals, west oakland murals

bode mural, bode mural art, murals on peralta, oakland mural art

bode murals, west oakland murals, oakland murals

Bode

So yesterday I mentioned the lovely mural that seemingly popped up overnight near Hollis & Peralta… The sign read “Peralta Mural project coming soon…”

This got me to thinking.
About how art can transform, not only the passerby’s immediate experience in the world, but on a larger level, the whole look & feel of a neighborhood.

A couple months ago I shot some images for an article in Oakland Magazine about a puzzlemaker whose workshop/home is located in the Jingletown district of Oakland. This area is known for its profusion of artists and art spaces, re-purposing many of the industrial buildings that are no longer used for manufacturing and heavy industry.

I got a little lost and found myself wandering around a neighborhood in which nearly every large building’s walls had been beautified by some incredible piece of mosaic art… large murals constructed of tiny bits of glass and ceramics, installed by artists and community members working through Oakland’s Institute of Mosaic Arts (IMA). I’ll focus on the Institute and many of the pieces it’s installed in future posts.

But there is no denying that these works of art transformed this neighborhood, from streets confined by monolithic blank walls that seem to make us feel small, to streets framed by large works of art filled with color and sparkle, that not only invite the viewer’s attention, but dazzle with their beautiful spectacle.

And in seeing the notice on Hollis Street about the coming mural project, it seemed at least one artist had a similar vision for one little corner of West Oakland.  That artist is Mark Bode.  He’s a tattoo artist, comic book artist, muralist, and more.  And the other day I caught him in the act, adding the next installment to the Peralta Street Mural project.

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Check back tomorrow to see the finished product!