Tag Archives: oakland mural art

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”.

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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.”

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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?

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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.

Sea Turtle Swims on 880

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One of three murals commissioned through the Coliseum redevelopment area’s Tough on Blight program… “Emergent Sea” by Dan Fontes, painted with Caroline Stern and James Swinson.

Elements of Power ~ Voices of Change

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I love this mural, despite its dilapidated state. Painted 10 years ago by folks from Laney College, the East Bay Institute of Urban Arts, and Pat McElroy on the corner of 31st and MLK, it’s definitely showing its years, not to mention the heap of dump-destined-junk dumped in front of it. I thought about going back to snap another shot without the pile of junk, but then decided it was more authentic to just show you how I saw it when I first came across it.

This is typical in West Oakland, and the symbolism does not escape me.

Here you have symbols of power and change for people of color – activists, political leaders, artists, musicians, migrant workers, athletes, and more – all stitched together into a positive tapestry of, dare I say, “hope”, and some thoughtless person obscures it with a bunch of trash they’re too lazy or cheap to dispose of properly. It makes me mad. Trash gets dumped here daily, and I don’t just mean kids throwing their candy wrappers on the sidewalk as they walk home from school (which also happens). I mean large trucks advertising dumping & hauling, who likely charge folks to take their trash away, and then come dump it in my neighborhood so they don’t have to pay the city dump fees. Argh. The city still ends up paying for it, through blight clean up crews, and even more so, reduced property taxes.

It sometimes feels like a losing battle… which reminds me of this essay I read yesterday. It’s a breakup letter to the city of Oakland, from a resident who, after many years of struggling to make this city a better place, has given up. She’s movin’ to the country. Check it out… Ode to Oakland.

I’m not there… yet.

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Directed by: Edythe Boone and Meera Desai (if that name rings a bell it’s because she was also involved in the Martin Luther King Jr. mural I covered when I first started this blog – To Ignore Evil…)

Buddha & Ganesh

I thought I’d stay in the neighborhood since we’ve been here all week… here’s another mural produced by the folks at Community Rejuvenation Project. This one’s located at 21st and Mandela Parkway, right around the corner from Bee Aware – Connected Worlds

These guys are busy. I haven’t even scratched the surface in terms of the murals they’ve produced over the last few years and intend to take a field trip down Foothill Blvd. in the near future to photograph many more.

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I’m not sure when this one was produced… maybe my friend Desi can chime in and give us a bit more information. In the meantime I’ll tell you that CRP worked with 30 kids during a 6-week grant-funded program last summer to produce positive mural art in various neighborhoods in Oakland. The youth were actually paid for their time (jobs people!), as were the four artist instructors: Desi, Mr. E, Mike360, and Raven.

In addition to learning how to paint, the kids learned basic art concepts, promotional & marketing skills to interact with the local community around the project, documentation & surveying techniques, and even basic job skills like showing up on time and finishing a job through to completion. The unveiling of each mural was typically accompanied by a community block party.

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At the end of the summer program they held a week-long workshop to produce the printed magazine S.W.E.A.R. documenting their efforts. SWEAR stands for Street Warriors Enacting Artistic Revolution, and the full 24 page piece was entirely produced by the youth, excluding printing.

It’s a gorgeous glossy full of wonderful vignettes about the projects and participants… poetry, artist bio’s, essays, etc. Here’s a snippet of one student’s essay:

“The CRP program is almost complete; we are still developing and exploring who we are and how art can change our world. During our first week, we dove into training and challenged ourselves to learn something completely new. Some of us had experience in painting, surveying, clean up, or promotion, but besides the lead artists, we were teaching each other.”

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They’ve just finished their grant applications for 2010 and are planning for several more murals to be painted in the coming year. A couple locations have been picked in my neighborhood (the 30’s at San Pablo) and I, for one, am very excited!

Dreaming of Blue Skies…

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I spotted this mural a couple weeks ago in West Oakland, at 26th and Magnolia…. not far from my home, but amazingly I had somehow never seen it before. I thought it might be new, but the inscription says it was painted by M. S. Hove (aka Scott Hove) in 2003. It’s amazing what you can find if you abandon your regular routines and explore a bit…

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This is actually only half of the mural but I wanted to focus on the lovely blue skies during these dreary days of rain and drizzle, so I’ll have to show you the fiery side another day (or you can always check it out on his website if you don’t want to wait).

This one, at least the trees side, has a little bit of that Van Gogh Starry Night quality, don’t you think? He just did a new piece on Telegraph near Berkeley that feels a bit more Miró to me… I’ll feature that another day too.

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Hove is another Bay Area native who attended the California College of Arts and Crafts (CCAC, now renamed CCA – sans crafts), though he considers himself primarily a self-taught artist. He works in a variety of mediums, his work typically “reflect[ing] on the relationship between the natural world and mechanical civilization, and the drama that occurs during this interaction.”

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One of the unusual mediums he works in is light. He actually draws with light, with the help of photographer Bruce Lynn. He has a whole series on his website, and I think this one is one of my favorites. Pretty cool, eh?