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Rethinking the Abatement Industrial Complex from a Public Art Policy Framework

Since its founding in 2007, the Community Rejuvenation Project has sought to transform communities with holistic, vibrant, and uplifting murals which engage and inspire viewers. A large part of our work, however, has been overcoming negative perceptions of street art, which is often linked to vandalism and youth crime. We have also seen the need for sounder, saner, and more sensible policy around public art and graffiti abatement, as well as for more communication and better cooperation between all stakeholders…

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Ken Houston and the Fallacy of the Abatement-Industrial Complex

Fourteen months ago, in January 2014, self-proclaimed “community advocate” and wanna-be Oakland Mayoral candidate Ken Houston addressed a roomful of business owners, mass transit corporate executives, high-ranking police officers, journalists and a sprinkling of local and state elected officials or their representatives, invited on behalf of the East Oakland Beautification Council, a community initiative developed under the auspices of the Turner Construction Group (on whose website the group’s minutes appear), a major developer whose past projects include the Fox Theater and…

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CRP Announces Block Party to Celebrate Completion of Alice St. Mural

For Immediate Release – May 6, 2015 (Oakland, CA) – The Community Rejuvenation Project (CRP), an Oakland-based non-profit whose mission is to uphold and uplift community through holistic murals, has announced a block party to celebrate the completion of Phase II of its historic Alice St. Mural. The event will be held in the parking lot at 14th and Alice Sts. in downtown Oakland (1443 Alice St.) from 12-4pm on Saturday, June 6. Phase I of the project, completed in…

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Oakland Tribune Reports: City Council Has Only Spent a Fraction of Abatement Mural Allotment

  As CRP previously reported , Councilmember Desley Brooks (D6) is on record as telling KPFA’s Davey D, “Neighborhoods in West Oakland and East Oakland need to have public art.” Yet in an Oakland Tribune article published on Sunday, April 26, it was revealed that Brooks and her fellow Councilmembers have dragged their feet in allocating funds set aside in 2013 for abatement murals. As reporter Mike Blasky noted, “Of the $400,000 the council approved, only $14,100 has been formally allocated,…

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Alice St Mural Project Phase II Underway

Following an eight-month delay, Oakland-based muralist organization the Community Rejuvenation Project (CRP) has begun work on Phase II of the Alice St. Mural Project.  On April 3rd 2015, a contract was finally signed with property owner Mark Borsuk, allowing the project to proceed as planned. Councilmember Lynette Gibson-McElhaney’s office, who assisted with contract negotiations, was invaluable during this protracted process.  “We couldn’t have moved forward without [D3 staff],” Executive Director Desi Mundo said. Though the delay altered the project’s original…

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Why Are Representatives of Oakland’s Blight-Challenged Districts Reluctant to Commission Abatement Murals?

On March 18, District 6 Councilmember Desley Brooks told Hard Knock Radio’s Davey-D, “Neighborhoods in West Oakland and East Oakland need to have public art.” The Community Rejuvenation Project (CRP) couldn’t agree more. In fact, as part of the Oakland Community Art Coalition, our efforts in 2012 led to the creation of a $400,000 budget line item for abatement murals in the city’s budget – 50k per Council district (plus the at-large seat). But those murals have been slow to…

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New CRP Mural: “Welcome to Afrikatown”

The Community Rejuvenation Project (CRP) was blessed and fortunate to have been involved with the creation of a new  mural, “Welcome to Afrikatown,” painted in solidarity with community organizing space Qilombo, community advocacy group the Black Angels, non-profit organization Planting Justice, and educator Denae Martinez, who teaches at San Francisco State, Laney College, Merritt College and Fremont High School. The mural came about after CRP was suggested for the project by Planting Justice, a frequent collaborator. For CRP founder and…

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The Privatization of Public Art

Last November, then-Councilmember Libby Schaff proposed a new ordinance which required a percentage of new development–.5% for residential property, and 1% for private development—for “public art.” The ordinance further codified an existing public art program, which provides 1.5% of capital improvement projects to “commission and acquire public art.”  Yet while the existing public art fund is administered by the city’s Cultural Arts dept., the new ordinance “provides developers with the option of commissioning public art on the development site or…

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CRP Begins New Mural Project, Announces Community Painting Day

Fall is here and with it comes another exciting new mural by the talented artists of CRP, Desi Mundo and Pancho Peskador. The two recently began work on painting the union hall of Local 20, the Engineers and Scientists of California (IFPTE, AFL-CIO & CLC), located at the intersection of 8th and Clay Sts. in Old Oakland. The mural is a partnership between CRP, Local 20, and Youth Spirit Artworks, an interfaith “green” art jobs and job training program which…

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CRP Murals Chosen as Backdrops By Conscious Hip-Hop Artists

For the past four years, the Community Rejuvenation Project has been putting in work deep in the trenches of Oakland’s streets, painting murals with images and messages of upliftment, inspiration, struggle, and resistance. Recently, it’s come to our attention that several of our murals have been used as backdrops for videos by conscious rappers with a revolutionary mindset. While CRP doesn’t consider itself a political organization per se—first and foremost, we are a cultural art collective; the scope of our…

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