Tag Archives: dan fontes

Create for Yourselves…

The true title of this 7-story tall mural is “Mitzvah, the Jewish Cultural Experience.”

Located at 14th & Franklin – we passed it on our way from the Layover to Spice Monkey for dinner – the mural was created in 1985 by artist Keith Sklar, with Brooke Fancher and Dan Fontes.  Measuring nearly 100 feet wide and 150 feet tall, a large central banner reads “Create for Yourselves a New Heart a New Spirit,” surrounded by imagery representing significant historical individuals and events in Jewish history, including a portrait of a concentration camp victim.

The mural is a landmark in the recently dubbed Oaksterdam area of downtown Oakland, and as I snapped a few photos the other night, an attendant guarding the parking lot next door told my friend and I, “that mural’s been there as long as I can remember… It’s older than me!”

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mural by keith sklar, dan fontes,  brooke fancher, 14th and Franklin

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bay area multiculturalism

multicultural murals, downtown oakland murals, keith sklar

Despite being focused on Jewish historical figures and events, the mural also features a melting pot of characters exemplary of the multiculturalism that predominated Bay Area murals during that period. Another example we’ve seen is Street Tattoo, created by some of the same artists.

“Animurals” ~ aka The Zebras

So you knew I had to follow the giraffes with the zebras right?  Same artist… Dan Fontes.

These were originally produced in 1985 thanks to a public commission by the Oakland Office of Community Development.  Last updated in 2003, looks like they could use a new freshening as they’ve suffered some weathering and graffiti vandalism.  (Located under 580 freeway overpass on Broadway)

oakland murals, dan fontes, animurals

Zebra Murals Oakland, Oakland Freeway Murals

Broadway Murals, Oakland Animal Murals

580 Freeway Murals, Dan Fontes Muralist

Dan Fontes, Oakland Public Murals

580 Freeway Murals, Zebras Mural, Animurals, Dan Fontes

Fontes is a local artist and has produced numerous murals throughout the Bay Area. If curious, you can type his name into the search field at the top right of this page to see the ones I’ve covered so far. I’m curious to know if anyone ever uses that feature… it actually works pretty well.


Since posting the life-size humpback whale mural from Kauai last week,  I was reminded of these giraffes because it seems to me these have been proportioned to be life-size as well. Although, to be honest, I’ve been wanting to post these guys ever since I first started my blog, um, let’s see… how long ago? Anyone? Anyone? It’s hard to believe… but I started this thing a full twelve months ago. And so, with no further delay…

It’s official… today is Oaktown Art’s one year anniversary. Woo hoo!!  (Here’s my very first post from a year ago.  An interesting side note is that this mural is no longer visible thanks to the new Lanesplitter’s on San Pablo, so I’m happy to have documented its existence here.)

And though I can’t say I fulfilled my initial goal of posting something every day, I’m pretty proud of the 200+ posts I have done. Heaps of thanks to my readers.

And now back to the giraffes…

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large giraffe paintings, dan fontes, giraphics

giraffe paintings, oakland public art

giraffes under 580, freeway giraffe paintings, oakland public art on freeways

580 freeway giraffes, giraffes by dan fontes

dan fontes, oakland office of community development, public art oakland

These were painted over 25 years ago! It’s amazing they’re still so vibrantly intact. I love them and am grateful for their existence. (Located at intersection of MacArthur & Harrison, under 580 Freeway)

Street Tattoo Mural ~ San Pablo

I’ve passed this mural probably hundreds of times…  Despite its dilapidated state, I’ve always loved it.  It’s not a stretch of San Pablo I typically walk –  under the freeway overpass near the Greyhound Bus Station – so I’m either whizzing by in my car or on my bike.  Today I got out and walked its full length so I could snap these shots.

Created in 1982 (nearly 30 years ago!) by Daniel Galvez with many others (see below), it’s titled “STREET TATTOO”.

oakland mural art, oakland mural san pablo

oakland residents mural art, oakland residents portraits san pablo

daniel galvez, street tattoo mural, oakland mural art

daniel galvez, san pablo mural oakland, street tattoo mural

The mural presents a wonderful portrait of Oakland’s diversity, and what I love about it is how happy everyone looks in all of their active and creative pursuits.  You don’t have to walk far down this stretch of San Pablo to see that most real-life folks aren’t singing, laughing, dancing, or juggling.  I wish they were.

But it certainly paints an idyllic picture.  I hope they’ll both be restored one day… the mural, and the “picture.”

daniel galvez, street tattoo mural, oakland mural by bus station

You can’t see because the type is too small, but the number 2 tag on the man in the wheelchair reads “1981 Oakland Marathon”.

oakland resident portraits, daniel galvez

The female firefighter rocks! Oh, and I zoomed in on this man’s t-shirt because I think it’s simply fabulous. It reads “Oakland – The Center of Western Civilization”. I can’t quite make out the design… it looks like Atlas holding a portion of the Bay Bridge, but I’m not sure what else. Anyone?

mural by daniel galvez, oakland mural art

daniel galvez muralist, mural art oakland, mural on san pablo

oakland mural art, street tattoo mural

My understanding is that all the subjects portrayed here were real people
, and I believe he worked from photographs, as in later murals produced (see below).  In fact a friend of mine met a woman recently who claimed to be girl on the tire swing.  She, too, hopes the mural will be restored.

Daniel Galvez, who received his undergrad at California College of Arts & Crafts (now CCA) and Master of Arts and Painting at the San Francisco Art Institute, was a powerhouse muralist in Oakland in the early eighties.  He later achieved national recognition, producing his most famous murals for the Department of the Interior in Washington D.C. (Guardians of the Past, Stewards of the Future), and New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs (Homage to Malcom X), among many many others throughout the U.S.

He was also one of the primary artists on the amazing “Grand Performance” mural by the Grand Lake Theater.  I’m saving that one for a rainy day…

Other artists include: Jamie Morgan, Dan Fontes, Keith Sklar, Eduardo Pineda, Warren NG, Marilyn Gaines, Linda Wolfe, Brian Thiele, Debbie Simpson, and Reynaldo Carranza

Sponsors include: California Arts Council, City of Oakland, Chinatown/Central Community Development, Cal Trans, and others.