Tag Archives: painting

Delightful and Disturbing

Wow… so yesterday was a bit controversial… on a couple levels.  That’s GOOD.

First, we got reprimanded for promoting illegal activity (and even making fun of the ways to not get caught… which I still think is hilarious).  Let me say here in public, what I also wrote directly to this commenter, who since, retracted his comment of critique and offered up a more positive response…

My goal here is to promote ART. Both the conventional (legal, publicly condoned/sanctioned) and the unconventional (which yes, at times, can be illegal).  I am not a proponent of altering or defacing private (or public for that matter) property without permission.  That’s ME… those are my values. For the most part, I believe the laws enacted by our representative government are designed for the benefit of society at large.  Though there have certainly been many mistakes along the way… we learn as we go.  I also said in a past post (see There Are Laws About These Things…) that I believe it’s up to each artist to decide for him/herself what is acceptable behavior, and what risks are willing to be undertaken.

We live in a society based upon liberty.  And the First Amendment to our Constitution (its position at the top of the list indicates its primary importance) guarantees us all the rights of free speech.  Yes, this can be interpreted in a mind boggling number of ways, exampled by the current legal challenges to campaign finance reform (who knew money was speech?!?)  But I would argue, and I’m sure others have too, that displays of art can be considered speech as well.

This doesn’t give the artist the right to deface another individual’s property… that person has guaranteed rights as well.  But it does guarantee the artist the right to display his message (his speech) somewhere.  And here is my beef… we’ve left few public spaces for the artists.

We’ve got plenty of abandoned, dilapidated properties in this city that certainly aren’t being tended to by their owners.  Artists take advantage of these sites because they have few other options if they want to display their art publicly, and I don’t think that’s such a bad thing.  If kids are running around w/ paint, chalk, posters, and wheatpaste in an effort to be creative, isn’t that a hell of a lot better than running around with guns and drugs?

Let’s find ways to support their creativity… channel it in positive ways, eh?  Some cities have designed skate parks for skateboarders… can’t we set aside Art parks for Artists? I personally think this would be way cool.  And a magnet, not just for artists, but art patrons and tourists alike.  My upcoming interview with Mark Bode talks about just such a project in San Francisco.  Check back soon for that…

The second controversy from yesterday’s post involved the content of the images.  A friend of mine said she found the newsprint photographs of what I assume are developmentally challenged individuals, disturbing.

I believe there is plenty of great art that can (and is designed to) delight us.  That’s one function. But there are other functions as well, and sometimes the best art, the kind that moves society forward in new ways of thinking, is, well… disturbing.

I’m not saying the wheat pastes from yesterday fall into that category… maybe they do, maybe they don’t.  What I am saying is that we can choose to live in a sanitized world where we are spared from disturbing imagery (think of the Bush era’s manipulation of the media to prevent us from seeing any of the deceased soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan).  Or we can live in a world where we confront reality… disturbing as it may be at times.

Having said all that, today I will delight you with something I think few would find controversial.  It’s another pet hospital mural by our friend Stefen from Land of the Sky Blue Waters.  It’s titled “Promenade at Lake Merrit” and was created in 2004, and dedicated to the protection of Lake Merritt in 2005.  Enjoy…

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Magic Bus

Hey everybody… so I don’t really have a theme this week. I think I’m just gonna go a little stream-of-consciousness on y’all. Free things up a bit. Get a little bit random…

Yesterday I was on my way back from a small photoshoot for Oakland magazine, when I spotted a couple graffiti murals out of the corner of my eye. I circled back to get a closer look and passed this wild ride on my way…

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I had just been thinking, literally the day before (while posting my modified truck w/ diamond plated flames), “where have all the art cars gone?” I feel like you used to be able to see them all the time, but lately I haven’t seen as many. Then, BOOM! This gem.

The universe provides, people.
Don’t forget it.

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This baby’s got it all… Yellow Submarine, Ziggy Stardust, My Little Pony, Mr. Potato Head, and more. And why the hell not?? Let’s all get a little bit random! (SOV)

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Nymphs

Or fairies if you prefer… but nymphs is far more fun to say.  Try it.

[nimfs]

See what I mean?

Here’s the finished product…  I think they did this all in one day.  Pretty cool, eh?

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I talked to Mark Bode for a few minutes while he worked. He hopes to produce more murals in the neighborhood by coordinating with local property owners, including the big recycling plant on Peralta (Custom Alloy). I’m hoping to do a more in depth interview with him in the future.

Until then, thank you Bode!

Bode

So yesterday I mentioned the lovely mural that seemingly popped up overnight near Hollis & Peralta… The sign read “Peralta Mural project coming soon…”

This got me to thinking.
About how art can transform, not only the passerby’s immediate experience in the world, but on a larger level, the whole look & feel of a neighborhood.

A couple months ago I shot some images for an article in Oakland Magazine about a puzzlemaker whose workshop/home is located in the Jingletown district of Oakland. This area is known for its profusion of artists and art spaces, re-purposing many of the industrial buildings that are no longer used for manufacturing and heavy industry.

I got a little lost and found myself wandering around a neighborhood in which nearly every large building’s walls had been beautified by some incredible piece of mosaic art… large murals constructed of tiny bits of glass and ceramics, installed by artists and community members working through Oakland’s Institute of Mosaic Arts (IMA). I’ll focus on the Institute and many of the pieces it’s installed in future posts.

But there is no denying that these works of art transformed this neighborhood, from streets confined by monolithic blank walls that seem to make us feel small, to streets framed by large works of art filled with color and sparkle, that not only invite the viewer’s attention, but dazzle with their beautiful spectacle.

And in seeing the notice on Hollis Street about the coming mural project, it seemed at least one artist had a similar vision for one little corner of West Oakland.  That artist is Mark Bode.  He’s a tattoo artist, comic book artist, muralist, and more.  And the other day I caught him in the act, adding the next installment to the Peralta Street Mural project.

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Check back tomorrow to see the finished product!