In the wake of the recent completion of the mural dedicated to murdered painter Antonio Ramos and Soul of Oakland and OCNC rallies to defend Oakland’s culture, CRP painted the outside walls of community organization Qilombo as part of an anti-gentrification rally. Most of the massive wall, which features portraits of Assata Shakur,Thomas Sankara, and Amed Sekou Toure against a red black and green backdrop, was done in just one day. Qilombo is currently facing another eviction attempt, this time from…
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…
Located at 41st St. and International Ave., in the heart of Oakland ’s Fruitvale district, the “Peace and Dignity” mural spans almost two entire city blocks, making it one of CRP’s most ambitious to date. Conceived by CRP’s Desi W.O.M.E. and Mike 360, along with graffiti legends Phase 2 and Vulcan, and painted by Desi, Mike 360, Vulcan, Elijah Pfotenhauer, Pancho Pescador, Beats737, Abakus, Dora Chavarria and youth from the Fruitvale. Commissioned by the property owner Smart & Final and sponsored in part by Oakland’s Community Economic Development Agency (CEDA), the project took more than three months to complete. The mural features vibrantly-painted foreground characters representing indigenous peoples and native symbology: tribal elders, musicians, runners, the agave plant, a hummingbird. Subtle background calligraphy spell out the words “peace” and “dignity” – a reference to the sacred Peace and Dignity Journeys from Alaska to Panama which happen every four years.
As part of its “Healthy Lifestyles” campaign, CRP was commissioned by Richmond Spokes to create a mural inside their new Spokes Shop on Harbor Way. CRP artists Elijah Pfotenhauer and Desi W.O.M.E tied in Richmond landmarks such as the Richmond Plunge and the Craneway with images of gardening and diet along a bike trail. The mural debuted with the opening of the Spokes Shop and a community block party.
In 2007 and 2008, Mike 360 and Desi W.O.M.E traveled the western half of the United States painting murals, planting gardens and pulling up evasive species. In 2007, stops included Albuquerque, Denver, Lame Deer, Montana; Kyle, South Dakota, and Salt Lake City. In 2008, the two received a grant to study natural pigments on the Pine Ridge reservation resulting in two murals, including a war memorial at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. Mike and Desi also painted a mural at the Santa Fe Art Institute with several students and artists.
In 2008, CRP was commissioned to paint a new mural over a community project led by Harold Beaulieu on 8th and MacDonald that had fallen into disrepair. CRP kept the original theme of butterflies as representatives of our ancestors and integrated the Richmond Robottin’ culture that helped define west coast funk dance styles and had a major influence in hip-hop. Original robot dancers, Ralph “Plik-Plok” Mantejo and Eustinove Smith served as consultants for the project and brought through many of the original dancers for an amazing block party.
In 2009, CRP was commissioned through Lao Family Community Development to work with 30 employed youth for a six week summer project. The project cleaned-up 150 blocks of trash, painted 5 murals, threw 4 block parties, surveyed the community, and took over 5,000 photos from which they created a 28 page full-color magazine. Three of the large scale murals were created on the Foothill Cultural Corridor.
In January 2009, the Watsonville Brown Berets invited CRP to create a mural on their newly formed Bike Shack. Over the course of one weekend, the Berets created a beautiful mural celebrating bikes and xicano culture with the artists. The Berets hosted a Pe~na for the local youth who came out and painted their own works. This mural introduced CRP to Elijah Pfotenhauer, who became a lead artist in the collective.
In 2010, CRP began a series of murals in one of Oakland’s most blighted communities, nicknamed Ghost town, with a mural on an abandoned Foster’s Freeze on Martin Luther King Way at 25th street. The community response was overwhelmingly positive and numerous other walls were requested. Soon the murals covered both corners of the block and ran halfway down the street. Despite two fences being torn down, there are now four murals in the area between 28th and 22nd on MLK. CRP has begun to add other murals in the surrounding blocks such as 30th and west.
Since 2003, CRP artists have created over 15 murals along Foothill Boulevard in East Oakland, including the creation of a mural arts districts near Fremont High School which includes murals on the surrounding blocks such as Bond and Bancroft. CRP Director Desi W.O.M.E arranged for the entire block between 45th and 46th Avenues to be painted on multiple occasions, last as part of the Summer Youth Employment program in 2009. Other murals on Foothill include “Flux53” (formerly the Egypt Theater), “Shiva Shakti” (one block away from Flux 53) and the “Mind, Body, Spirit mural for Diego’s Power Alley Gym on Avenal.”
In the summer of 2011, CRP continued its “Healthy Lifestyles” campaign through a large-scale commission in the shared cafeteria serving all five schools in the Fremont Federation. CRP painted images of cultural practitioners, gardeners, athletes and youth with affirmations and encouragement for the students.