Tag Archives: oakland art

Chaos Without ~ Peace Within

This one’s just down Broadway a few blocks from the last one, towards downtown. It’s unsigned, and unfortunately a little tagged up, but looks like the work of the same artists who did yesterday’s post. I love it.

I’m going to type out some of the beautiful quotes in case people have difficulty reading them in the pics… also then the text is searchable.  Here’s the first:

Hatred ever kills…
Love never dies…
Such is the vast difference between the two
What is obtained by love
is retained for all Time…

oakland mural, chaos without mural, mural on broadway

oakland mural, mural on broadway, oakland mural art, peace within mural

What is obtained by hatred
proves a burden in reality
For it increases hatred.

chaos within, peace without, oakland mural art

The duty of a human being
is to diminish hatred…
and to promote Love

~ Mohandas K. Gandhi

mohandas k. gandhi, mahatma gandhi, mural art, oakland mural

I was surprised that the quotes were attributed to Mohandas K. Gandhi, rather than Mahatma Gandhi. In looking it up, I realized that Mahatma was just his nickname… a Sanskrit word meaning “Great Soul.” I tell ya, I learn something new every day doing this. It’s humbling and exhilarating at the same time.

Another great work by the folks at Community Rejuvenation Project.

May all the beings in all the worlds become Happy…

Ok kids… so I’m going to continue the focus on murals for the next few days because:

  1. I am swamped with work and this writing stuff takes time
  2. The murals are so amazing they speak for themselves, so I don’t have to say much
  3. There are bunch of ’em in the Broadway and 40th vicinity we’ve been exploring lately

Here’s the next… it’s at the corner of Broadway and 49th, right in my old hood.  It kind of reminds me of the one I featured a couple weeks ago next to Ghost Town Farm… similar message of peace & happiness between all peoples, and an interesting mix of iconography… the moon, the earth, the sun, egyptian pharaohs, and the buddha… not to mention the classic graffiti style writing.  It’s pretty cool.

Oakland Mural at Broadway and 49th

The left side of the mural reads “Lokah Samasah Sukhino Bhavantu” which apparently is Sanskrit.
How do I know this? Google. Thanks Google! The phrase translates to the title of this post, which you will also see painted on the far right side of the mural.

lokah samasah sukhino bhavantu, Oakland Mural

lokah samasah sukhino bhavantu Mural

egyptian, oakland mural, lokah samasah sukhino bhavantu

The buddha depicted in the center looks almost female to me, resting on her lotus flower, floating above the Earth. The words “Infinite Potential” are painted across.

oakland mural, Infinite Possibility

oakland mural, community rejuvination project, broadway and 49th

As you can see here, the mural was created as part of a Community Rejuvenation Project by Little Village MAS students: Abicus, Daz, Dési, Fact, Jinx, and Raven. Nice work kids!

Ella Baker Center Murals

Just a stone’s throw from Mama’s Royal Cafe is the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, an action center working for justice, opportunity, and peace in urban America.  There are some wonderful murals on the exterior of their space, depicting the themes and goals on which their organization is focused.

ella baker center building

Co-founded in 1996 by Diana Frappier and now famous Van Jones of Green for All, the Ella Baker Center has grown in a little over 10 years from a small-scale operation with only one full time staff person, to a “grassroots powerhouse” with 24 “world-class” human rights activists.  Their work is focused through four primary campaigns designed to promote positive alternatives to violence and incarceration:

  • Books not Bars works towards redirecting California resources away from youth incarceration facilities and towards youth opportunities
  • Green Collar Jobs works towards promoting California as a leader in creating a thriving and equitable green collar economy, strong enough to provide employment opportunities for all
  • Soul of the City “works to transform Oakland into a socially just, spiritually connected, ecologically sustainable city with shared prosperity for all”
  • Heal the Streets as an outgrowth of Silence the Violence, works to provide hands on training for future social justice leaders through a 10 month fellowship program for Oakland youth and young adults (ages 15 – 18)

Ella Baker, Oakland Icons

Ella Baker is pictured above. Born in 1903 in Norfolk, VA, she grew up listening to her grandmother, a previous slave, tell stories of slave revolts. She graduated valedictorian of her college class in 1927 in North Carolina, moved to New York, and became a leading African-American civil rights leader and human rights activist for over five decades. What an incredible woman!

Black Panthers, Green Jobs Not Jails, Ella Baker Center Murals

The Ella Baker Center continues her important work into the 21st century. Please check them out… They’ve got a blog, multi-media page with music, videos, and podcasts, volunteer opportunities, and could really put your tax-deductible donations to fantastic work here in Oakland.

Ella Baker Center Mural

Green Jobs Mural in Oakland

The murals were created in 2007 through the Precita Eyes Mural Arts Center based in San Francisco, with funding from the Oakland Redevelopment Agency. Artists include: Fred Alvarado, Eli Lipppert, Gerry Chow, Anna Szumowski, Ronnie Freeman, and others.

Ella Baker Center Mural Artists

Mmmm… Mama’s

I said it was deserving of its own post, so here it is: Mama’s Royal Cafe!

outside Mama's Royal Cafe

Located on the border of the Temescal and Piedmont neighborhood’s in Oakland at Broadway and 40th, Mama’s is an Oakland institution. They opened their doors over 35 years ago in this same spot and have been going strong ever since.

I went Saturday morning after a brief discussion with a friend who lives close by:

“Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!” I said. “There are already folks lining up outside.”

He said, “Well maybe we should go somewhere else…”

And I replied, “I want my Mama’s!!!

End of discussion. And so we walked, and we waited, and as I’ve said before, it’s always worth it!

mama's royal cafe art

The thing that makes Mama’s unique is their combo of vintage eclectic decor with today’s fancy farm-fresh local produce. You’re in this classic diner-feeling establishment, eating Niman Ranch meats, Petaluma eggs, Acme bread (which is out of this world… when they ask you what kind of toast you want, the correct answer is “Acme”), and amazing seasonal fruits and veggies, typically featured in their specials of the day.

I had one of their specials on this visit: a roasted fennel frittata with carmelized onions, parmesan cheese and a few other yummy ingredients. Served with perfect potatoes crispy-cooked  (it amazes me how many breakfast places have mediocre potatoes), and that incredible Acme toast. I made my way through my entire platter of food and was munching on my last piece of toast when my friend said, “That bread is the best!” I only had three bites left, slathered in butter and jam, but I offered it to him. I was already over-stuffed, and in general, am working on being a better sharer. He was grateful.

One of my favorite Summer Specials is their fresh fruit crepes. They only serve this when the most amazing berries, mangoes, nectarines, and kiwis are available, all tucked into delectable crepes with a créme fraîche sauce to die for. If you’re like me – you have a hard time deciding between sweet and savory and are always trying to talk your friends into getting both and splitting them – this is a great one to get. Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait about 8 months before it’s available again. It’s worth the wait!

The restaurant has 3 rooms… the main entrance leads you into the sign-up area, coffee station, counter seating, and small tables near the window. Next over is a narrow room filled with wooden bench booths… this is a cool spot if you want a little privacy. Each booth has possesses one of these quaint little jukeboxes (unfortunately now inoperable) which back in the day, played two songs for a nickel… “the equivalent of two complete records!

mama's royal cafe, mixmaster vintage advertisement

vintage aprons at mama's royal cafe

The farthest room is the largest… ideal for bigger groups and great people watching.

The entire restaurant is filled with quirky art… vintage aprons and teacups galore, boomer era advertising (I love the Mixmaster poster above – “it even polishes silverware!”), Poodle with a Mohawk, and of course, the wonderful napkin art.


Every spring, Mama’s hosts their annual Napkin Art Contest with real cash prizes… this is no joke! Top napkin takes four hundred smackerooos, second and third get $200 and $100 respectively, plus more complimentary breakfasts and kids prizes too. Only requirement is that a paper napkin must be used. 2010 entries due March 31st… prizes distributed April 15th. You can see original winning entries displayed at the restaurant, and photos of winners in Mama’s online photo gallery. This stuff is amazing!

sign at mama's royal cafe