Tag Archives: guerilla art

I got nothing. Well… a little.

You may have noticed I was nearly MIA last week… and I’m afraid this week may not be much better.  I missed Art Murmur on Friday, again.  It’s been crazy busy with work, home improvement, weddings, housewarmings, and more.  And I have to be honest, I don’t have a lot of material right now, nor much time to generate new stuff.  So this is my guilt-ridden disclaimer… near future will be sporadic.  But hopefully I can come up with some interesting photos if nothing else.

And if any dear readers out there have something to share, well… now is the time!

In the meantime, here are some photos from a guerilla art show anonymously installed on a boarded up building on San Pablo Avenue in West Oakland… who needs a gallery, eh?

public art installation, anonymous paintings san pablo ave

san pablo paintings, guerilla art installation, oakland public art

yellow green paintings, painting of boat, painting of trees, guerilla art

abstract primary paintings, abstract landscape paintings, oakland guerilla art

No Killing Anytime

These images speak for themselves… a pretty amazing piece of guerilla graffiti art, if you ask me.

oakland graffiti, no killing signs, no killing anytime

oakland graffiti, no killing signs

oakland graffiti, no killing signs

oakland graffiti, no killing signs, modified parking signs

oakland graffiti, no killing signs, modified parking signs

oakland graffiti, no killing signs, modified parking signs

All images provided by friend of Oaktown Art. Which reminds me… if folks have something they’d like to contribute, please contact me through a comment. I’ll be setting up a more formal contact page in the near future for content suggestions and guest bloggers…

Friday the 13th – Mystery Mojo

Ok… so I had no idea what I was going to write about today. I was racking my brain last night… another mural? an essay on gentrification? I was stumped.

And then out of nowhere… I found THIS. I saw it from the corner of my eye and thought “What’s that?” As I stepped closer I found this lovely little creature in red with his/her fantastic aura of twigs & sticks… then I noticed the inscription in stone underneath. West Oakland Home. Which I found fascinating, because West Oakland is my home, however I did not find this in West Oakland. Very strange.

Mystery Mojo

Check out the magic charm at his base… a stone with four screws (presumably representing North, South, East, and West) all meticulously wrapped in blood red thread. This was some serious mojo.

stone with red thread and screws

I walked past the creature and came upon the weirdest and most fantastic pile of stuff… it was only then that I realized I was standing in the middle of a very deliberately created sacred space. The centerpiece is below… constructed out of a hundred or more hand sewn dolls with beautiful individual beads for eyes and mouths, all laid out in a circle.

Voodoo Magic

Voodoo Magic

Mystery Mojo

Inside this circle was an interior circle constructed out of chunks of wood, and inside this two guardians flanked an intricate metal lantern, a red-feathered arrow stuck into the ground, and a dish of offerings. The “dish” was constructed out of a knarled piece of wood… resting in it, a necklace of the cross, beads, kernels of corn, and tobacco leaves.

African Statues

red feathered arrow

Spiritual Offerings

I was fascinated! The fact that someone would create such an elaborate display in a public place. And then leave it. I was also a little bit nervous. Was it ok to be standing inside this space? Would I somehow be desecrating it by walking upon it? I have no idea how this voodoo magic stuff works. I tried to be respectful and appreciative.

It was then that I noticed the masks. The installation was set in a large rectangular plot of land… the red creature from the first photo marked the entrance. At each corner of the plot was a unique and unbelievably beautiful mask. One had a tag that said it was handcrafted in Ghana, carved out of a single piece of wood, and designed to “radiate the magic of Africa.” These two were my favorites…

North and South

This one was West…

African Mask

South…

African Mask from Ghana

East…

African Mask

And North…

African Mask

I gave a nod of gratitude to each of these masks and to the four corners of our planet. It seemed like the thing to do. If anyone knows anything about casting spells or spiritual rituals of this sort, I would love more information. I am in awe of this beautiful gift of art.

Happy Friday the 13th everyone. May the mojo move you!

Ghost Town Farm

The mural that I highlighted yesterday (May Peace Prevail on Earth) is located just a block off 27th Street, a street I drive weekly. In the nine years I’ve lived in West Oakland, I’ve probably cruised past this spot hundreds of times and yet only noticed the mural just recently…

I decided to get out of my car (hurray!) and walk the neighborhood a bit…. it’s hard to really see things when you’re cruising by at 30 miles per hour. I found a lovely little elementary school with wonderful murals of its own (to be featured at a later date), a sweet pocket park next door, the gorgeous and historic Calou building (also to be featured another day), and this gem… the Ghost Town Farm.

What was so exciting about finding this spot is I had literally heard a full-length radio interview with the creator of the farm just days before on KQED’s Forum program… you can listen to the archive here.  Her name is Novella Carpenter and she is practically a local celeb – as a student of Michael Pollan at Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism she has her own book: Farm City – The Education of an Urban Farmer, her own blog: Ghost Town Farm, and her own agenda to share stories about “people who follow unconventional paths,” herself most definitely included.

What’s largely unconventional about Novella’s farm is that she’s literally homesteading on someone else’s land.  It’s a large vacant & abandoned lot next door to her house that she simply decided to adopt and care for as her own.  As she says in her blog, “it all started with a few chickens, then some bees…” but what she has cultivated over the last ten years is a real working farm with rabbits, goats, pigs, fruit trees, and tons and tons of vegetables.

One of the things I found interesting in her interview on KQED was her discussion of the difference between a “garden” and a “farm.”  She said gardens tend to produce for an individual or one family… if someone picks your tomatoes, you might feel slighted or offended. On the contrary, farms produce for the community… when she sees someone picking her tomatoes she feels proud that they can enjoy food that she has grown. She maintains an open door policy and community members are welcome to view the farm, pick produce, meet the goats (though the day I stopped by they were secured behind the house for safety), and learn about sustainable urban farming.  This girl is cool!

During the interview with Dave Iverson, there was also a fascinating discussion of the legality and appropriateness of commandeering someone else’s property… do check out the audio archive.  Or better yet, check out Ghost Town Farm.  As far as I’m concerned, this is an act of guerilla art at its finest.

Ghost Town Farm Entrance

Ghost Town Farm Welcome

Ghost Town Farm

Ghost Town Farm Bees

Ghost Town Farm

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.

Time’ll Tell

I was at a party last weekend and a friend was talking philosophically about how the rate of change is continually accelerating. What once might have taken a century in terms of transformation, now takes a decade. In the future, maybe just a year.

This not-so-little piece of graffiti art seems to touch on that…

oaktownart20091027_2

It’s actually a giant wheat paste! The bicycle rack gives a sense of scale… needless to say, it’s large. The buffalo probably measures a good 10 ft in length and nearly 7 ft in height, and seems to be a reproduction of a smaller drawing. It was printed out onto 5 large sheets of poster paper, then cut out into pieces and pasted up onto this shuttered Wolf’s camera drive-thru. There is no artist’s signature.

I’m not sure what it means… a clash between eras, and the conflicts that result? Man’s domination of nature? The title lends a clue, I suppose. What do you think it’s about?

It’s technically in Berkeley, at the intersection of Ashby & Telegraph, but it’s only about 6 blocks from the Oakland border, and cool enough to warrant the border crossing.

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.

oaktownart_20091022_1

oaktownart_20091022_2

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.

oaktownart_20091022_3