Despite graffiti’s noble origins in rebellion and its evolution into elaborate calligraphy which has set the trends in art and culture for four decades, the mainstream view is that graffiti tagging — the root signatures from this movement — represents an eyesore.
A threat to community’s artists’ ability to create public works is looming, one which maybe drowned out in the congratulatory cheers, now that the immediate wrong has been righted.
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.
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.
Based on the success of 2010′s Peace and Dignity Mural Monument, CRP is creating a series of large-scale murals spanning the entire city of Oakland. Unfortunately, two murals commissioned by the City to improve blighted neighborhoods in East Oakland, originally slated for Summer 2012, were put on hiatus after the state of California eliminated its Redevelopment Agency, which the City of Oakland used to fund the project; CRP is currently organizing a neighborhood advocacy campaign to ensure funding for these murals is restored. The other projects are moving forward: CRP and People’s Grocery will be partnering to paint the entire building housing PG’s operations at 7th and Market. CRP will be creating an arts district centering around San Pablo and Alcatraz in North Oakland through a series of five murals. Finally, CRP will be creating a large-scale mural in downtown with Bay Area Legal Aid.
The Funktown Arts District was created by the Community Rejuvenation Project in 2009 at the Parkway Theater. The theater’s sudden closure devastated the community and led to immediate blight and disrepair. CRP’s painting of the Parkway and three other walls in the immediate area with dedications to musicians and cultural icons have supported the growth and success of local businesses. CRP routinely paints new works on the theater, such as a portrait of Trayvon Martin, to keep the area vibrant.
In 2011, CRP was approached by the San Pablo Avenue Golden Gate Improvement Association (SPAGGIA) to create a series of murals on San Pablo Ave between 60th Ave and Alcatraz. The first mural out of five has been completed on Golden Gate Liquors on 60th St. called “Pedal Power to the People.” A second project called “Sacred Seeds” was also commissioned on Stanford and 60th. SPAGGIA will be holding a series of fundraisers throughout the summer of 2012 for the next three murals.
CRP’s partnership with Phat Beets and People’s Grocery began in 2011 with a garden mural in Dover Park painted live during the Cesar Chavez celebration. CRP was then invited to contribute portraits of local heroes at the Chestnut Green Corridor behind the California Hotel. In total, CRP has painted 7 portraits on Chestnut and added a mural in the People’s Garden during the Corridor dedication in April 2012. CRP’s next project will be painting the People’s Grocery headquarters on 7th and Market.
In the summer of 2011, CRP was hired by Youth Radio to conduct a 4 – session mural workshop with students in its summer program. Over the course of four weeks, the group designed and painted a full color mural on two 4′ x 8′ wood panels that were placed behind Youth Radio’s altar on their first floor to augment a space set aside to remember the community’s loved ones.
CRP has had an ongoing relationship with ARISE High School, beginning with several small indoor murals in classroom and hallways. At the beginning of 2012, CRP artists lead a team of 20 youth on a large scale mural on a blighted auto shop at 8th Ave. and Fruitvale. Despite experience in the aerosol medium, the students took on exceptionally difficult tasks of drawing sacred geometric patterns, accurately rendering the Mexica Sunstone (Aztec Calendar), and drawing the magnetic field of the heart. The resulting “Heart and Mind” mural was a source of pride for everyone involved.