Category Archives: fruitvale

More Dimond Love

Forgive the focus on my immediate neighborhood these past few posts… I haven’t gotten out much lately! But this collaborative mosaic and paint mural is a stunner and well worth highlighting.

It’s another installment by the folks who brought us the lovely mural on the side of Farmer Joes on Fruitvale Ave. Created by local artist and teacher Debra Koppman, the mural is titled “I LOVE Dimond.” It features a tapestry of images woven together across three panels to portray the diverse and beautiful neighborhood that is the Dimond District. Left and right are elaborate mosaics installed by Martha Trujillo, Brad Holland, and Shardee Thomas, while the center panel features an intricate painting by Mandy Lockwood.

Wonder what this stretch of Mac Arthur used to look like? See further below…

Debbie Koppman, PGE Substation Mural

dimond district mural, mac arthur mural, mandy lockwood

debbie koppman, mosaic mural, mac arthur mural

I couldn’t find a shot of the whole wall pre-mural, but you can imagine from the snippet of dilapidated fence below. I love how you can still see the PG&E substation info in relief within the new mural.

PG&E substation

The project was funded through multiple sources:

  • Oakland Cultural Funding Program – supporting Oakland-based art and cultural activities that reflect the diversity of the city for citizens of and visitors to Oakland. (more on this below)
  • Dimond Night Out (Montclair Lions Club – Howard Neal)
  • Oakland Parks & Recreation (Karen Long)
  • Individual Donors – Edward Norton, Carrie Campbell, Kathleen Russell, John Olson
  • Dimond Improvement Association (DIA) – working on issues and projects ranging from streetscape improvements, business development and crime reduction to beautification and community celebrations.

I’d like to take this opportunity to briefly highlight the Oakland Cultural Funding Program, because it’s nearly that time of year again when they open the applications to their grant funding process. They provide support in three categories: general support to arts & cultural organizations, individual artist projects, and art in the schools.

I’m going to focus on the individual artists (others can visit the link above for more info). Do you have a community art project you’ve always dreamed of executing but couldn’t figure out how to fund? Well here’s a chance to secure some cold hard cash to help make your dream a reality. The individual artist grants max out at $5000 and do have a few requirements to qualify:

  • You must be a resident of Oakland.
  • You can’t have received one of these grants within the past two years.
  • Your project must take place in Oakland and should culminate in a local public outcome for the benefit of the community. Such activities may include, but are not limited to, performances of dance, music or theater, visual art and public art projects, classes and workshops, exhibitions, and literary activities.

It says on their website that the applications should open on April 1st, but I confirmed yesterday that they are not expected until May 1st. The deadline will likely be June 30th, but both dates are still tentative at this time.

If you are interested in applying for a grant, you can sign up for email notification regarding applications, review grant guidelines and recipients from last year, and see answers to frequently asked questions all here:  Oakland Cultural Funding Program.

Love Oakland – Make Art!

Ernest Doty in the Dimond

I’ve been a bit lax in posting this past week or so… I came down with a nasty cold/flu which has kept me moving at the pace of a three-toed sloth. Actually slower.

But the universe has an interesting way of providing when we need it most, and as a result, I’m excited to tell you that I’ve got a guest post coming up later this week. Please stay tuned.

In the meantime, here is a continuation of the focus on a cool multi-artist installation site in my local hood, with the foreground image below by street artist Ernest Doty. I’ve actually featured his work on this site before without realizing it (see Art Murmur is cool. And it’s tonight. which I now know includes one of his multi-eyed creatures, another regular theme in his work.)

I love this piece for its focus on the bird, more specifically a raven (at least that’s what it looks like to me).

The Bird

I recently completed a small body of photographic artworks that, while focused on various themes and settings, all had one feature in common: birds. In the process of developing this body I did a bit of research for an accompanying essay and discovered that throughout history, images of birds have been used to symbolize the link between the spiritual realm and the physical world.

A Raven

Just last week I read a short creative nonfiction work called The Raven by Barry Lopez. It’s an allegorical meditation on the differences between crows and ravens, but really its meaning is much deeper, exploring issues frequented in his works: the relationship of human culture to the physical landscape, identity, ethics, etc. Here is a short excerpt:

Finally there is this: one morning four ravens sat at the edge of the desert waiting for the sun to rise. They had been there all night and the dew was like beads of quicksilver on their wings. Their eyes were closed and they were as still as the cracks in the desert floor.

The wind came off the snow-capped peaks to the north and ruffled their breath feathers. Their talons arched in the white earth and they smoothed their wings with sleep, dark bills. At first light their bodies swelled and their eyes flashed purple. When the dew dried on their wings they lifted off from the desert floor and flew away in four directions. Crows would never have had the patience for this.

You can look up the PDF if you want to read the full piece (it’s quite short at just three pages). I found its beauty echoed in the imagery of this mural.

Ernest Doty, Dimond Murals, Bird Murals, Ernest Doty Mural, MacArthur Murals, Dimond Murals

Many of Doty’s works incorporate bird imagery (see another below, from West Oakland) and since his Facebook profile describes him as “a mystic”, I have to believe he’s got some similar intent at work with this symbolism. Very cool.

bird mural, ernest doty, bird graffiti

Photo by Graff Hunter

Oakland Treehouse by Griffin One

There’s been a hubbub of art activity in my Dimond neighborhood in the past few months… new murals and mosaics popping up along our little stretch of MacArthur. This was one of the early installments.

It went in late last year and I simply love it–love how the large canvas of this building is used as a portal to transport us from the urban “hectivity” of this busy boulevard to the peaceful pastoral delight of northern California farmland surrounded by gentle foothills.

Mural is by Griffin One, Oakland-based muralist, fine artist, illustrator and digital designer.
dimond district, dimond murals, macarthur murals, griffinone, griffin one

Laurel Summer Solstice Music Festival!

Tomorrow marks the 7th annual Laurel District Summer Solstice Music Festival.  It’s an all day event featuring 25 bands, DJ’s, artists, and kids activities, focused truly on the cultural & artistic microcosm that is the Laurel District.

Festivities begin as early as 9am (enjoy your morning coffee from World Ground Café over the acoustic bluegrass and bluesy/folksy stylings of the Clusterpluckers – you’ve gotta love that name!), and will run well past the official 8pm close of the festival as a few special acts move indoors (“King” Sunny Ade’s band will be featured at West African restaurant Miliki, and one of Todd Huth’s current outfits, The Knuckles, will perform at Lounge 3411, which gets nearly 5 stars on Yelp, and according to one Yelper, is “a secret magical place in the hood.”)

The festival is being hosted by the Laurel Village Association (LVA) with a great deal of support from Acme House of Music – a veritable institution to local musicians (check out my post from last year’s festival for a short download on Acme:  Support Local Music in Oaktown – bring your lawn chairs and dancing shoes!).

According to the LVA…

Unbeknownst to many, our neighborhood is represented by some of the world’s most well respected artist/bands within a myriad of musical genres including rock, electronic, soul, jazz, hip-hop, punk, metal, experimental, blues and beyond.  And so, this year the festival has a line-up composed solely of talent from our diverse microcosm of Oakland.  Believe it or not, the outstanding entertainment showcased this year is being provided by your neighbors!

From Carl Lockett (Bay Area legendary jazz/rock/funk guitarist), to Matt Payne of chiptune band The Glowing Stars (for those who don’t know, chiptune is a genre of music created using limited sound cards, usually from retro gaming machines such as the NES, Atari ST, and the original Game boys) to surf-rockabilly outfit Trivalve, to the alt-country stylings of The Rogers… the list goes on and on.  See full list of musicians here.

I’m not sure what else to say, except Go!

laurel district, summer music festival, laurel music festival

Exploring Fruitvale one mural at a time ~ St. Elizabeth High School

Oakland’s Fruitvale District, home to a large portion of the city’s Latino residents, is famous for its awesome annual cultural events – the Cinco de Mayo parade and Dios de los Muertos Festival – as well as its incredible profusion of colorful public murals, among other things.

These artworks portray the very fabric of the community in all its cultural history and diversity. Here is one…

Created by the 2005 Senior Art Class taught by David Burke at St. Elizabeth Catholic High School, the mural depicts St. Elizabeth of Hungary – a symbol of Christian charity, and a pelican – a symbol Christian compassion.
St. Elizabeth of Hungary, pelican mural, fruitvale murals

symbol of Christian compassion, pelican symbolism

fruitvale mural, east oakland murals, st. elizabeth high school mural

PS – This is the third assignment from my June blogging e-course… “Write a bite-sized blog post. See if you can say everything you want to say in 100 words. Actually, I couldn’t! (My post is 100 words short, but there was much more I wanted to say.)

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”…

Fruitvale Village ~ teeming with mosaics

I don’t have much to say about the mosaics at Fruitvale Village, other than, if you have not been there, you should go.  My pictures do not do them justice, as they must be examined in person to truly appreciate the number, size, and breadth of designs incorporated.

fruitvale village mosaics, large scale stone mosaics

round bench in plaza ~ approx 20 feet across

fruitvale arches, fruitvale mosaic arches, mosaic gateways

mosaic gateway to the plaza

Fruitvale Pedestrian Plaza Art, fruitvale plaza mosaics

large scale stone & tile mosaic

oakland public mosaic art

more sidewalk/pedestrian mosaics

fruitvale mosaic arches

traditional Roman technique using uniform stone squares

woman with spear, stone mosaics, fruitvale transit village art

designs incorporate culturally diverse references

large scale stone mosaics, fruitvale village

a subtle and consistent palette is achieved using natural stone tiles

fruitvale arches, fruitvale plaza mosaics

these too are crafted from natural stone tiles

tree in hands mosaic

I love the image of the tree cradled by human hands.