Tag Archives: dead eyes

There once was a garden here…

I was in my old hood the other day and passed a fenced in triangle of property at the intersection of 32nd and Union streets. I’ve driven or biked past this spot hundreds of times over the years.

It’s right in front of a couple loft developments, an older converted building called West Clawson Lofts (the building once housed the Clawson Elementary School ) and a newer development called Magnolia Row, built from scratch on the neighboring empty lots in the early 2000’s.

There once was a community garden installed in the small lot. I thought it was wonderful. I never knew who installed it there, but it existed for a year, maybe more, and consisted of raised vegetable beds surrounded by more ornamental flowering plants. One of the cool features was the reuse of old bicycle wheels (without the tires) along the chain link fence. They were used as trellising to encourage climbing plants (like morning glory) to obscure the ugly fence. I thought it was a lovely addition to the neighborhood.

But soon after it was established it was removed. My information is only hearsay so I can’t verify its validity, but someone told me that there was a dispute over the ownership of the lot and that, apparently, the rightful owner was intent upon installing a coffee stand/shop there.

I thought, well it’s a shame the garden is gone. But a coffee stand could be cool too.

It never came.

Years went by, and at one point it seemed promising as a small wood shack was erected inside the fence. But nothing ever followed.

And so for years, we West Oakland neighbors were deprived of our pretty little community garden, and instead, were left with a ramshackle hut inside a weed and litter strewn lot locked inside a chain-link fence. sigh.

empty lot west oakland, vacant lot art installation, west oakland graffiti

But recently some artists have taken measures to reclaim the lot, repurposing the walls of the hut as outdoor gallery space for their art. It currently houses a number of pieces but it looks like the bulk of it was jointly installed by a number of artists working collaboratively: Ras Terms, Dead Eyes, and Safety First included. I’m not sure about other participants.

Ras Terms, Safety First, Dead Eyes, Turnip, empty lot art

collaborative art installation, west oakland graffiti art, empty lot 32nd street

safety first graffiti art, safety first west oakland art

I hope more artists follow suit.

And who knows… maybe one day we could have our garden back too. A peaceful green space to sit and reflect upon the art…

Vacation Recap: Ahhh Kaua’i….

So you may have noticed I didn’t have a whole lot to say last week. In fact, not one small peep. I was actually on vacation and set up the week long set of posts before leaving town. I meant to give a little intro but ran out of time, so I’ll do so now…

The last six posts highlighted a slew of stickers and wheatpastes found on the small retail stretch of Lakeshore Avenue near Lake Merritt. I was amazed at how many I spotted in just a few short minutes, and also the incredible variety of styles.

My favorite was the first one posted “Country First” which was a comic-book styled political satire piece hand-drawn on a USPS sticker. Other original works included a couple classic Koleo’s, and some hand painted and/or stenciled pieces. There were also a few reproduction stickers, and lastly, a funny little piece seemingly produced by a label-making machine, stating only “Spare Me.”

Since I was out of town through the weekend, I missed the big events of Outside Lands and Oakland’s Art & Soul Festival.  I’d be curious to hear details if folks went to these, especially the Oaktownfest.

It’ll probably take me a bit to get back into the swing of things so next few posts may be a bit sporadic, but in the meantime here’s a lovely mural spotted while on vacation.  Trying to hold on to that island vibe for just a bit longer…

Kauai Humpback Whale Mural, Time for Conservation, humpback whale

Whaling Wall XXVIII, art of wyland, kauai village murals

whaling wall, humpback whale mural, kauai village mural

Wyland Whaling Wall, kauai village whaling wall, art of wyland

This mural was spotted near the town of Kapa’a on the island of Kaua’i. It was produced by the artist Wyland in 1991 as part of his environmental mission to paint 100 Whaling Walls throughout the world. His goal is to educate and inform the world about the plight of marine life, and all the images he produces are life size and accurate to the last detail of the marine habitat.

Pictured in this mural is a humpback whale and its calf along Kauai’s Na Pali Coast. The whales migrate from their Alaskan summer residences to Hawai’i each fall to birth their calves in the warm Pacific Waters before returning north in the spring.

We didn’t see any whales on this trip as it’s not the right season, but we did see (and swim with!) the beautiful and gentle green sea turtles, also pictured.

“the stylistic confides of lowbrow art…”

What exactly does this mean?

If you went to the Stand Tall exhibit at Old Crow Tattoo & Gallery on Grand Ave. last Friday night, you might have an idea, as that was the essence of their 20-plus artists show.

old crow tattoo, old crow gallery, art show old crow

stand tall, old crow tattoo, old crow art show, old crow gallery oakland

Featuring approximately 20 artists – some local, some not – I expected the show to be primarily graffiti aerosol art, but was surprised to find a much wider range of mediums and styles.

Stand Tall references the tall, but narrow, space that each artist had to work with. The two main gallery walls were each divided into 10 equal segments, 3 feet wide by 9 feet tall, providing 20 slim slates to be adorned however each artist saw fit. Some hung traditional canvases (easier for the out of town artists), some painted directly onto the wall, and some created elaborate mixed media installations incorporating, paint, wood, paper, found objects, smaller framed works, and more.

It was almost too much to take in. And while there wasn’t much cohesion between the individual artists’ pieces (everything from classic expressionism to modern graffiti lettering to flat abstract blocks of color to collaged interactive sculpture), the confines of their equally sized individual spaces marching repetitively along the walls did provide a layer of unity.

old crow tattoo & gallery, graffiti art show at old crow

old crow tattoo and gallery, art show at old crow oakland

old crow tattoo & gallery, stand tall art show, graffiti art show at old crow

stand tall art show, old crow gallery oakland

Several of the pieces were collaborative efforts. I was able to speak briefly with one of the artists, Dead Eyes, who had worked on one with his co-creator Safety First. He explained that collaboration is frequent in this genre, as local street artists are a close-knit group who all know each other and interact with each others’ work.

I asked how much of the collage was put together from already existing works. He said only a small percentage, and that about 80 percent was created originally for this show, focused on themes similar to those exhibited in their street art… visible throughout Oakland.

I also spoke briefly with Desi W.O.M.E. whose piece was one of my friend’s favorites. Though created within the span of a single day, and simple in layout – spray painted directly on the wall with no mixed media or multiple pieces – it was complex in its content. Layers of imagery overlap each other… a man’s face, seemingly in agony, an aztec-styled skull, a graffiti-writing mask over the two – all obscuring, revealing, and interacting with parts of each other. I don’t know what it means, but it seems… deep.

I could probably do a whole post on each of these panels, but you should just go check it out for yourself…
Show remains up until May 5th. I believe gallery hours are by appointment only.

PS – you can get tattoos there too. duh.

Slap. Smack. Stick. Stuck.

So I came across a slew of stickers last weekend while shooting some buildings downtown for my upcoming Art Deco Days (please stay tuned). I’m throwing a bunch up while I collect my thoughts on deco architecture.  Most of these are one of a kind, hand-drawn or painted works. Enjoy…

sticker art, oakland stickers, graffiti stickers

stickers on newspaper racks, oakland sticker art

dead eyes stickers, ras terms stickers, wheat pastes

chris moon, chris moon sticker, sticker art, oakland sticker art, radioactive man sticker

organ guy stickers, xray man stickers, x-ray man stickers, oakland sticker art

I’m particularly fond of these little x-ray men, where various organs and body parts are displayed in a see-through man portrayed in various colors and positions. They’re all over town, and I’m not quite sure why, but they always make me smile.

organ guy stickers, xray man stickers, x-ray man stickers

organ guy stickers, xray man stickers, x-ray man stickers

Crude & Gats

So I’m a little late getting this one up… always so hard to catch up after the long holiday weekends… busy busy busy. And even though this is a new week, it’s the last day of the month and I really wanted to finish up the graffiti focus of last week with the stellar and ubiquitous work of a couple of local artists

“Dead Eyes” is the tag you’ll see on much of one guys work, but he’s a West Oakland artist who actually goes by the moniker “Crude”. I know this because my graf friends tell me these things. Thanks Endless Canvas!

He’s enough of an entity that KQED actually did a brief feature on him as part of their arts program Spark… you can check out the clip here.

I’ve featured his works before… I think the first one was a hand-drawn USPS sticker right outside my home. You can use the search feature to find all the other posts if you’re curious… He does lots of faces with a wide flat nose and thick lips. He embellishes many of them with more ornate elements reminiscent of African masks.

Crude, graffiti art, sticker art, dead eyes sticker

In the shot below, the smaller sticker top right is his… it says “Dead Eyes”… duh. The sticker below and slightly left (with the beard) is the work of another artist named Gats (short for Graffiti Against the System). This is one of his simpler pieces… You’ll see a developing trend…

Gats, gats sticker, gats graffiti art, west oakland graffiti

Here’s another pair… Crude on the left (Army of One) and Gats on the right… This face with the beard seems to be his trademark.

crude sticker art, stickers by crude, dead eyes stickers, dead eyes graffiti, graffit art oakland

A lot of these works seem to be unique hand drawn stickers (rather than mass produced)… maybe that’s why one was ripped off below….

Dead Eyes Stickers, Crude stickers, West Oakland Sticker art, west oakland graffiti

This one below is the most detailed of Gat’s images that I’ve seen…. it’s incredible.

solidarity forever poster, poster art by crude, dead eyes graffiti art, wheat paste

Another Dead Eyes with a handful of other folks…

sticker art by crude, dead eyes stickers

And two more Gats…

wheat paste by gats, gats wheat paste

gats wheat paste, sticker art west oakland, wheat paste by gats