Tag Archives: west oakland graffiti

ART INTERVIEW: Few & Far Mural Project Oaktown

“R-E-S-P-E-C-T.”

Here’s the latest mural installment in West Oakland… it spans two huge warehouse walls along Mandela Parkway, was produced by 17 graffiti artists from around the country, and check this… they’re all women!

The event happened over the course of a few unusually cold & rainy days earlier this month, so props to these ladies for busting out some beautiful work in less than ideal circumstances. One of the artists, Meme, organized the event under the moniker Few and Far, and it will include future mural installations in various cities around the country (and possibly world). Check out my interview with Meme and photos of their amazing work…

seattle graffiti artist 179, 179 graffiti

179

few and far mural project

INTERVIEW with Meme

The graffiti art and street art scenes definitely seem to be male dominated.  But the new walls you and your crew painted on June 4th were done exclusively by women! That’s amazing. Can you talk a little bit about that? Like why you wanted to do a project with just women?

Well like most hardcore things, most men are more likely down to what ever it is. As being a female into “male dominated” things you seem to find other females that sometimes want to build a bond cuz there are fewer of us… I am that type that loves all people and has love for women doing hardcore things! So I decided with help from KSRA/Mags that we would put together a jam.

Beth Emmerich artist, Beth Emmerich mural

Beth Emmerich

Are the women & girls you worked with from Oakland? Or from all over?

Hahaha well, I think four girls are either from here or now live in the Bay area. Mags, Dime, Agana and Muse. Three of them I didn’t invite or know before, they just showed up. I liked them, so I let them paint. Very happy they came!

Here’s a list of the rest of the crew and where they’re from: Toofly (NYC), Myla (Australia/LA), Acet (NJ), Reds (Miami), KSRA (Seattle), Hops (Seattle), 179 (Seattle), Meme (Nor Cal), Beth Emmerich(SD), Rachel Pelican (Grass Valley)

mandela parkway murals, few and far murals, oakland murals

Rachel Pelican

I see that your project “Few & Far” is going be traveling to a number of cities throughout the world to do similar projects.  What’s next on the agenda?

Yes, we will be!! Watch out fellas! In Miami we will be doing a smaller F&F production during Art Basel. (Oaktown Art here:  For those who haven’t heard of it, Art Basel Miami bills itself as “the most important art show in the United States, a cultural and social highlight for the Americas… [and] the sister event of Switzerland’s Art Basel, the most prestigious art show worldwide for the past 41 years.”)

And will you pick up different artists in different locations?

Basically, we only want to surround ourselves with dedicated ladies that work well together, and aren’t competitive with each other, which happens a lot with other females. I don’t have time for that princess shit! Really any girl/women can join our collective, if their attitude is right.

siloe mural, siloette graffiti

siloette

myla graffiti, myla oakland mural, myla few and far

Myla

How did you get into graffiti art?

Long story.. All I can say is it’s a long, bumpy, rough road that you can’t get off!! lol

Are there many female role models for girls who want to get into graffiti art and street art?

YES!! I think that there are more and more every year!! And I feel we are not hiding anymore. There are some heavy hitting ladies out there world-wide, those who paved the way for us are still killin’ it, and the up and comers that are killin’ it too!

The women I admire, just to name a few are: Miss Van, Swoon, Ursala young, faith 47, Lady Pink, MadC, The Stick Up Girlz, the F&F women and so many more, too many to name! The ladies in Few and Far are very well known for being female artists. There are female gatherings like B GIRL B, and zines like C-O-P magazine, plus “Graffiti Women”the book.  Not sure there is much more than that out there…. kinda lame.

muse graffiti, women graffiti artists, mural by muse

Muse & Acet

Toofly mural oakland, Toofly few and far project

Toofly & Dime

Do you think that the themes explored are different for female artists than for men/boys?

Sometimes males tend to do perverted, macho, tough, gross stuff, which I love cuz if everything was flowery it wouldn’t be realistic. But being a female, I love pretty things just as much! But this is not true for everyone, just the majority.

Maybe you could talk about a few of the specific pieces on the Mandela Parkway murals…

Oakland has tons of graffiti right now its crazy!! Mandela pkwy has lots of murals right now which is beautiful!! Such a change from the same ol’ grey wash walls. Don’t you agree? (I do!)

meme few and far, few and far project

Meme & Hops & 179

mandela parkway murals, mandela pkwy murals

Lady Mags & Hops & Myla

It looks like each artist got their own stretch of wall.  Were any of the pieces collaborative? (I didn’t see a signature on the dragon)

The dragon was by this amazing woman 179! The Seattle girls drove 16 hours straight, got out of the car and started painting like mad women!! 179 did multiple characters and a piece as well as the cute bunny & bacon’n’eggs which spelled out 2011. We ALL worked very hard on the wall!! Reds, Beth, Rachel, Agana and I stayed out there so long I wondered if the hotel was a waste of money! We were straight camping out there!

I feel we all worked equally hard to move the ladders, scaffolding, clean up every night… we were a solid team. It took us 3 days with heavy rains and cold weather, there was definitely no little girl shit here!

179 2011, women graffiti artists, girl graffiti

179

girl graffiti murals, west oakland graffiti, oakland graffiti art

KSRA & 179

Lastly, why do you make art? And more specifically, public art?

I don’t consider myself as an artist really, I just paint graffiti. Now I’m at the age where I want to fine tune things, explore everything that interests me. I also don’t like painting in front of people, it makes me very nervous. But I’m learning that painting with positive people makes all the anxiety go away. The community in some cases loves what we are doing, so that makes me feel proud of all the years and millions of hours I put into it…

I feel art is like music, ever flowing… no one knows why, what or where it comes from, it’s this force that you can’t stop. I just wish cities were more open to art, music, youth, etc. Free for everyone to experience, no matter what age, sex, race, religion. Our society as a whole, has a lot of growing to do. We all have so much to learn from each other. So get ready… Few and Far is here! Thank you from the bottom of my heart, to every single person who helped and showed us love!! I appreciate you all and couldn’t have done it alone! ~ MEME F&F

Reds mural oakland, girl graffiti, female graffiti artists

Anagan & Reds

Anagan mural oakland

Anagan

More reading:

And lastly, if you want to get involved, contact Meme at FewAndFarEvent@gmail.com or the blog Few and Far.

Get Up et al

So here’s another installment of what, in the past, I’ve called “E-ville Wheaties.” This boarded up building on San Pablo at the Oakland/Emeryville border is a frequent spot for artist installations. See older posts here:

I just shot these on Friday, but unfortunately a drive by yesterday on my way to work showed they’d already been “buffed.”

My favorite pieces are the stencils by Get Up, and I plan to show another one of his excellent pieces tomorrow. Then hopefully, if I can get my act together, I’ll feature a short how-to on making your own stencils. So please stay tuned…
get up graffiti, get up shopping cart guy, get up graffiti art

This shopping cart guy is particularly relevant in this neighborhood. I’ve written frequently about the ubiquitous shopping carts in this part of West Oakland. Folks use them to collect recyclables to exchange for cash, some carry all their worldly possessions (ie my friend James who has been homeless for as long as I’ve known him), and some get even more creative than that (see below). The fact that this character is portrayed schlepping his phonograph and stacks of vinyl with great effort is particularly interesting.
West Oakland shopping carts, shopping cart people oakland
Here are a few other artists’ work, and the final image is another by Get Up (we’ve seen this one before too… Meaty Wheaties)

fox news tank graffiti, san pablo wheatpastes, oakland graffiti artists

West Oakland graffiti art, Emeryville Wheatpastes, oakland graffiti

San Pablo Wheatpastes, Emeryville Wheatpastes

Get Up Graffiti, Get Up Wheatpaste

Creature

I haven’t posted much street art lately so I thought for the next few days I’d focus on some new pieces I’ve seen recently.  Here’s the first…

oakland murals, west oakland graffiti art

west oakland mural, west oakland graffiti art, oakland murals

I don’t know who the artist is. If you can decipher the lettering between the two gargoyle figures, that is likely the artist’s name (or moniker). I think I can make out an ‘A’ in the middle, but that’s about it. Anyone good at reading these tags?

west oakland creatures mural, oakland murals, oakland graffiti art

It caught my eye last Friday as I was running errands in West Oakland/Emeryville. I’m pretty sure it’s fairly recent because I’ve been over there a bunch lately and this is the first I’ve seen of this. Located on 35th street (a prime dumping spot despite the cameras and signs that say dumpers will be prosecuted), I think it’s pretty excellent.

west oakland graffiti art, west oakland creatures mural, 35th street mural

Maybe with these guys keeping watch over the street, things will be kept a bit tidier, eh?

This is not Art.

Ok… I’m a little peeved, so please excuse.

There was a big warehouse party in my neighborhood Friday night to celebrate the birthdays of several graffiti artists. The flyer was super-cool and the party was right around the corner from me so I was kind of excited to check it out.

There were DJs, live bands, an outdoor firepit, and tons and tons of kids (what I call “kids”… I think I was the second oldest person there!) It surely seemed like a great time for everyone else, but I ducked out early as tall PBR’s aren’t really my cup of tea (did you see my post on The Trappist? – that’s more my style). Walking back around the block we spotted numerous kids (aka young men) tearing up and down the street… the rattling sound of shaking spray-paint cans echoing against the concrete and brick. They were tagging anything and everything, in a neighborhood they don’t live in.  Would they do this on the block where they live??!

The next morning I surveyed the damage.

Here are just a few pictures of my neighbor’s building…

tags, tagging, spraypaint, lame graffiti

graffiti, spray paint, lame graffiti, tagging, tags

graffiti, spray paint, lame graffiti, tagging, tags

graffiti, spray paint, lame graffiti, tagging, tags

graffiti, spray paint, lame graffiti, tagging, tags

I’m sorry, but this is not cool. In fact, it’s incredibly LAME.

You heard me… I don’t care if I sound like a stodgy old fart. That brick building is home to people who actually live in this neighborhood… working artists and interesting people. Do they deserve to have their property disrespected like this?

And what’s worse is that I know some of the people who did this are actually talented artists. There was a collection of wonderful poster art inside the party, with interesting and thought-provoking messages. This is Art…

graffiti art, graffiti artists, poster art, oscar grant art

It’s too bad these kids didn’t collaborate, and actually do something interesting, something that might be considered a complement to the neighborhood that would live on and inspire others. Instead, they created a bunch of eyesores that we’ll all have to spend money to remove. Thanks a lot guys. Pretty lame.

Challenge Everything.

So this is a re-purposed USPS sticker on a re-purposed stop sign… kinda cool. Unless of course that stop sign was still performing an important function. Safety first peeps!

challenge everything, usps, usps sticker,

I do like this message though… the handcuffs are “ignorance,” and the key to unlock them “education.”

ignorance, education, challenge everything, usps sticker, oakland graffit