Saturday, December 11, 2010
Monday, November 8, 2010
We had a instinct that history would repeat itself and Johannes Mehserle, the BART officer / killer of Oscar Grant would be given a light sentence. The theme of Kilumbo (or Quilombo in the European spelling) resonated with us. For the two years since Oscar Grant was murdered on the Fruitvale station, the people of Oakland had stood up and fought for justice. BART, the police and the city government had proven indifferent, if not defensive, and refused to act without prodding. Each small victory, such as the resignation of Gary Gee, the BART police commissioner, and even getting Mehserle a trial had required numerous loud protests, often resulting in at least 100 arrests at each stage. Every police officers' association had contributed to Mehserle's defense in order to maintain their hold.
Kilumbos were the communities of African runaway slaves and indigenous people that were founded in Brazil. In addition, we wanted to make connections between the other autonomous African / indigenous communities in the Americas and the traditional African tribes located in their motherland. We wanted Oakland to remember that such societies existed in the face of brutal repression and ongoing genocide and that Oakland should not give up hope.
We left for an hour to meet with some youth to plan the next day's mural. Even though the sentence was not to be announced until 2 PM, we saw students walking out from school at 1:30 telling us that Mehserle has received 2 years with credit for time served. We drove through 14th and Broadway and saw the police amassing. Arriving back at the wall a few blocks away, we knew that we would not leave until we were done. As we parked, the police helicopters arrived and we painted into the evening under the loud rattle of their propellors. Yet around 6 or 7 PM, the helicopters left and as the sun went down there was an eerie silence. Around 8:30, it became clear that the light in the lot would not turn on and it was too dark to continue painting. We made arrangements to meet the next day and put on the finishing touches. Painting all afternoon, we had been disconnected from the updates and wondered what was going on.
On the way home, we detoured up Telegraph and saw a huge crowd of hipsters partying away at the Oakland Fart Murmur like nothing had happened. Returning back downtown, we saw a huge mass of police at 14th and Broadway, yet people were heading out to the clubs and bars in apparent amnesia. No signs of protest could be found. We made our way around the lake wondering what had happened. Had Oakland just packed it up in a hopeless state of dispair? It seemed unlikely given the resiliency of the people but where was everybody? Then we saw the familiar helicoptors flashing its light into the community. Excited, we began to chase it. We drove up 5th Ave. and made a right on 17th Street and founded ourselved blocked off. The police had cordoned off 6th Ave and directed us to turn right. I drove slowly trying to see what was going on. Just then, the fire truck and the ambulance came flying towards us and we were forced to back up. The backdoors of the ambulance opened and police officer was wheeled on a gurney and placed inside. By then, the police directing traffic forced us to move on. All the streets on 18th were blocked off. We had to detour all over the place to return to my house, which further complicated by the neighborhoods stupid cul-de-sacs and blocked off streets. We were treated to the helicoptor's rattling propellors until 1 AM. At my house, we learned the cop had been hit by another cop car and that 152 protestors were surrounded without exit or opportunity to disperse and arrested.
We returned to the wall late the next day after completing a school mural with the youth we had meet with. It was quiet and sunny and the wall looked beautiful. Details we had missed in the darkness now appeared in the light. We completed our touch-ups and disappeared into the town.
Monday, November 1, 2010
Monday, October 4, 2010
In the past week, CRP founder Desi W.O.M.E has created 3 new murals in the alleys of the Mission District. In the last post, we documented his piece created as part of the international Meeting of Styles. During the event, San Francisco legend CUBA invited Desi to create a new piece in the historic Clarion mural alley, between Mission and Valencia just passed 17th St. Clarion Alley has been a hub of mural artwork since the 1990s. CUBA was one of the original artists to paint the alley and has recently begun coordinating artists to continue to transform the space.
Following his mural in Clarion alley, Desi returned to Lilac alley and created another mural on a roll-down door next to his previous piece. This piece is a more traditional aerosol mask style.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
The International Meeting of Styles is a series of weekend mural gatherings held in different cities throughout the globe. The MOS has held events on the west coast for several years now. However, or the first time, the MOS was be held at San Francisco at one of the most historic and famous places for mural art, the Mission district. CRP founder Desi WOME was invited to participate and created the mural above in a few hours on the first day of the event, on September 24. The event also featured painting by Bay Area legends, TDK Crew, WCF, and many more. Stay tuned for more photos in the days to come.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Story by Jill Replogle (http://www.jillrep.com)
Members of Diego’s Power Alley Gym, at the corner of Foothill Blvd. and Seminary Ave., already made the choice for a healthier life. Now the whole community has a vision of strength and health, brightening the neighborhood outside the gym.
The Community Rejuvenation Project recently turned the gym’s void outer wall into a portrait of health—physical, mental and spiritual. A native Aztec dancer, a man meditating in lotus pose and a Zulu nobility, expression proud, chest and arms powerful, have replaced the pale yellow wall of Diego’s. The mural was created by Desi WOME, Dave Kim, and youth apprentice Leo Delgado and other CRP volunteers.
As the mural took shape, neighbors stopped by to check out progress on the wall, and thank the artists for bringing color to the neighborhood which, one man said, is plagued by a lot of “dark things going on.”
It’s easy to guess at the neighborhood’s problems by the empty, boarded-up storefronts and ubiquitous metal gates, locking up homes, lots and businesses. With an unemployment rate of over 17%, economic recovery still on shaky ground, and public services declining rapidly, East Oakland could use some brightness on its horizon.
A mural may not solve the neighborhood’s problems, but it’s one step toward rejuvenating the community, and opening minds to the possibilities for healthy change.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Video, Story, and Slideshow by Desi W.O.M.E
The City Slickers truck arrived exactly at 11 AM laden with a huge pile of fresh steaming compost, a wheel barrow, and a pile of tools. The garden at the Oakland Green Youth Arts and Media Center had fallen into neglect and was looking shabby. Center staff arrived at the same time with a soft rumble of discontent, reflecting that it was an hour earlier than their normal schedule. "I'm here because he [Galen Peterson, OGYAMC Co-Director], made me show up," said performing artist and youth staff member, Olondis "O-zone" Walker.
The morning was still overcast as Julie Pavuk of City Slickers Farms began to explain the goals for the day. The entire garden was getting a facelift. Each of the 13 raised beds would be given a fresh layer of compost, new starters would be planted, and the group would build a worm bin. Within a few weeks, the garden would be producing fresh organc vegetables ready to eat. Julie introduced Joseph, who will mentor the group and oversee support for the center's young gardeners throughout the year.
Access to healthy food has burgeoned into a major issue throughout Oakland's flatlands, such as west Oakland, home to City Slickers, where there is one grocery store to serve over 25,000 people. Health food has been a particular challenge, because mono-cropped produce grown with pesticides are consistently being sold at below market rates while organic produce has remained expensive and is looked at as an exclusive product for a new population of wealthy residents. Breaking down these barriers, both real and perceptual, has been an impressive challenge for food-justice advocates. Probably the clearest example of this phenomenon is in West Oakland, where the Mandela Marketplace was recently opened next to the 99 Cent store. Despite having competitive prices for healthy alternatives, Mandela Marketplace has struggled to gain a foothold with longtime residents. However, many white West Oakland recent transplants, a symbol for many of the neighborhood's gentrification, have already begun frequenting the store.
The sun came out shortly before Matthew Linzner arrived with two youth from his Love Cultivating Schoolyards program. Matthew has been working at Ascend k-8 School and Urban Promise Academy through Oakland Leaf for the past 5 years. The youth that joined him were both Interns of the youth leadership program and ready to bring their knowledge back to the community. "Both of these guys have the skills to take over and manage a garden. They are ready to train and mentor aspiring farmers." The two young men busied themselves by drilling drainage holes for the new worm bin.
Earlier the same day, on the KPFA morning show, Jason Harvey, founder of the Oakland Food Connection, estimated that 30 - 40% of Oakland's produce could be grown locally, if its abandoned lots were used for localized gardens. OFC has been supporting local gardens in east Oakland in a similar way that City Slickers has been in the west. In some cases, this includes reclaiming some of the abandoned lots left vacant by their owners for many years. Cultivating food locally is the one of the ways to reduce the cost of healthy produce and since the lots are not being used for anything, they provide the perfect locations for local gardens.
Back at the Oakland Green Youth Arts and Media center, an hour's worth of work produced a notable difference. The youth's grumbles have been replaced by the steady banter of people deeply engaged in their work. City Slickers produces dozens of starters cultivated in their greenhouse from the back of their truck and the young men carefully loosen the sod around their roots as they place them in shallow holes in the raised beds. Joseph guides them and explains that the plants will need to drenched in water once a day for the next two weeks if they are to survive. Several questions are raised about proper care for the young plants and the youth seem genuinely engaged in their new project.
Its garden education programs like this that make local urban farms sustainable. Like the plants themselves, it takes time for the programs to take root. The Community Rejuvenation Project recently reclaimed an abandoned lot by Mills College on the corner of Seminary and MacArthur. The newly renamed Life Garden was started by youth in CRP's Arrow-Soul Council, an after-school program at Unity High School, along with Oakland activists and artists from the collective. CRP recognized immediately that maintaining the garden was beyond their capacity and turned the space over to nearby neighbors. However, reclaiming space is central to the collective's mission and their appetite for transforming lots was not satisfied. CRP has reached out to several food-justice organizations to build a support network of farmers to help train local residents in community gardening as more sites are reclaimed. They are applying for funding to bring together the aforementioned groups along with other likeminded organizations such as Grind for the Green, Women's Earth Alliance, and the Land and Life Garden to support an ongoing collaboration. They intend to start with a food justice mural on People's Grocery and continue with a series of projects to bring awareness to urban gardens and food equity.
Back at the center, just after 1 pm, the group quickly circled up to review plans for watering and garden maintenance. Food justice begins in these humble spaces with just few raised beds, new starts nestled in some fresh compost and a small cohort of fledgling gardeners.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Photos by Mike Melero. Story by Jasmine Sherren.
Community Rejuvenation Project is a unified expression of energy through public art. On Saturday August 14, Desi W.O.M.E., CRP founder and muralist,
and Dave Kim, longtime CRP volunteer and artist, hauled three 8"x10"
canvases on an enormous bamboo frame by hand to North Oakland's
Mosswood Park of the day of Fresh Fest.
Why did they do this? To educate the public on a serious local issue:
Oakland's rising rates of asthma, primarily in West Oakland.
The artists spent many hours painting these canvases to create awareness
about the Toxic Triangle in Richmond, Bayview and West Oakland.
Hopefully these efforts will lead the city to begin the necessary
change in West Oakland.
What is a city without its citizens at their strongest, where many
remain ignorant of the problems, and others must face them in their own
backyard? It is a city in crisis, and the first step in eliminating crisis
is education and understanding. Clearly these artists did not work in
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Audio and Photos compiled by Jill Replogle and Malia Connor for Oakland North
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
video by Mike Melero
Ancestors and Native Wildflowers at E. Oakland Mural Dedication
by Jess Watson
Last Saturday, volunteers converged on a vacant lot at Seminary and Macarthur to install as a native wildflower garden under the benevolent gaze of the freshly painted Egyptian deity Ptah Hotep. The event marked the completion of a large-scale mural along the back of the lot on the theme of black and brown unity, co-designed and executed by Unity High School students, the Community Rejuvenation Project (CRP), and neighborhood activists.
The mural was organized by Unity High School's Arrow-Soul Council afterschool program teacher Desi W.O.M.E, a founder of the Community Rejuvenation Project. He says, “It's all about mentorship, giving kids a safe space to create their first works and develop their own individual style. We talk a lot about history and context before designing the mural together.” The theme of black and brown unity was inspired by the Oakland Museum's recent exhibit The African Presence in México and was enriched through consultation with local activists and artists.
Unity Lewis, a neighborhood activist and hip hop artist who contributed to the mural's conceptualization, was thrilled with the final results: “I feel like it's really an amazing piece with powerful energy jumping off it because it's been blessed with the spirit of the ancestors and energy of the young retelling the tale so we don't forget our history. I see that mural every day. I've been over there and prayed over there. It's helping raise the consciousness in the community, as people discuss who the figures are and the meaning behind it. I hope we can use the space for some powerful community events in the future.”
The garden beds were created out of discarded boards and iron rebar found in the lot, supplemented by community donations of soil, compost and seeds. Local businesses provided access to water, and volunteers hauled bucket after bucket the fence.
Leo Delgado, a Unity High junior who painted parts of the mural's sunset and temple, talked about why he came back to install the garden: “This mural is important to me because we have worked really hard and put a lot of effort into caring for the community. The garden is important because it shows how we all come together to make our community a better place.”
The Community Rejuvenation Project (http://crpbayarea.org/) is an Oakland-based nonprofit targeting blight and neglect by creating murals to celebrate the local community and reflect neighborhood culture. CRP's model combines mural painting with the installation of native, drought-resistant gardens and healthy food distribution. The murals become a focal point for neighborhood cohesion through CRP's block parties thrown at each mural dedication in collaboration with the nonprofit Roots and Branches. Block parties always include hip hop performances, live aerosol art, and healthy food. CRP's next summer block party is this weekend - Saturday July 17th from 12-4 pm at Matilda Cleveland Transitional Housing at 8314 MacArthur Blvd. Come on down!
Monday, June 14, 2010
By David Kim
It was old school fun under a blazing sun on Saturday as more than 300 community members showed up in support of the Town Funk Summer Block Party near the Parkway Theater.
Neighbors partied and danced in the street, as part a celebration of their community and the inauguration of the new Funktown Arts District. It was the first time since the Parkway Speakeasy theatre closed that Park Blvd has seen this much action.
Park Blvd. was filled with fantastic fun which included live hip-hop and reggae music from a range of artists, free food for everyone, and a massive jumper for the kids.
Midway through the event, the dance area was taken over by dozens of colorful scrapper bikes, which had paraded all the way from 73rd Ave, Led by Baby Champ, "the Original Scrapper Bike King," the crew proceeded to perform several scrapper bike anthems.
Neighborhood artists Rocker T and Jern Eye culminated the afternoon after DJ Zeph tore the house down with an incredible Michael Jackson tribute mash-up that had the crowd dancing.
The party, part of an ongoing effort to unite the local community and Oakland at large, was a collaboration between a diverse group of local organizations and churches which included; Regeneration, Trybe, Lake Merritt Business Association, Lake Neighbors, Roots and Branches, Woodys Cafe, Lotus Bloom; Beats, Rhymes and Life, and Community Rejuvenation Project.
Many at the event said the party was a fantastic demonstration of community love.
"I think it's good for Oakland. The city needs more events like this," said Lisa O’Brien, a parent of one of the Future Shock dancers, who also performed.
Besides good music and food, the party also featured a live aerosol painting on Yuens Automotive by the Community Rejuvenation Project, which has recently begun transforming the neighborhood with several murals in the immediate vicinity of the event. The new murals have led the community to rename the area "the Funktown Arts District," depicted in colorful images of musicians and artists on the automotive shop. Around the corner, guest artist and San Diego master muralist, Mario Toredo, painted a large colorful portrait.
"The Community Rejuvenation Project believes that the solution to neighborhood blight and neglect is community involvement and engagement, through cultural artwork and community celebration. The Town Funk block party is a perfect example of this," said Desi W.O.M.E, the program's founder and director.
The Community Rejuvenation Project (CRP) cultivates healthy communities through beautification, education, and celebration. The group achieves this mission through experiential programs that promote professional development, artistic and cultural expression, and community empowerment.
CRP recently inaugurated the Martin Luther King Cultural Corridor with a series of murals between West Grand Ave. and 28th St. on Martin Luther King Jr. Way. The group is currently completing a large mural on Mills Grocery at Seminary and MacArthur and transforming an abandoned lot next to the wall into a community garden with local high school students.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Thursday, May 27, 2010
The Arrow-Soul Council of Unity High School and the Community Rejuvenation Project kicked off a week of painting for the Council's final project of the school year, a massive community mural on the busy corner of Seminary and MacArthur. The youth from the Council created a sketch that depicts Brown and Brown unity throughout history and unites them in a common struggle for sovereignty and freedom. The sketch was approved by Mills Grocery owner, James Kim last week and the mural began on Wednesday, May 19.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
This mural was done over the weekend. We had some special guests that brought a different flavor. Raven and Hyde have been regular collaborators throughout the years and it was great to reunite with them. Magda showed up from Stanford and rocked our brother Wiot's (RIP) style on the top of the mural. It was like having our brother with us again.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
PRESS RELEASE: The Community Rejuvenation Project Introduces the Martin Luther King Cultural Corridor
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Here is a banner that was created by youth in the Arrow-Soul Program to voice their opposition to the City Attorney's proposed Gang Injunctions in North Oakland. It will be displayed at a protest at the Alameda County Courthouse today!
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Mercedes and Wren rock the spot at 25th and MLK (Photo by Pancho Pescador)
Working on this mural was the first time I was part of an entire mural making process from the beginning to finish. I had taken a Mural Creation and Design course at Berkeley City College with the fabulous Xicana Muralist Juana Alicia Montoya. I participated more in developing the blueprint than getting my hands dirty in the printing process. I also it was my first aerosol mural, though the part I worked on was 50% hand brush and 50% spray can.
I wanted to participate in this project because I believe art and culture can be a tool for activism and activate minds to think more politically. Plus making art is always a beautiful thang, especially when made in a collective for the benefit of the community and not simply one individual. And contrary to “popular belief,” police, and government officials the neighbor was receptive to the aerosol art.
Folks would walk by and ask, “Y’all opening a restaurant?” We would reply, “Naw, just painting a mural.” During the experience I met a lot folks and engaged in different conversations with folks in around the block. My favorite was listening to the elders talk about the Frosty Freeze that once stood there and the construction of the freeway and all their personal stories of the neighborhood. My experience for the most part was positive, than of course there were people yelling at us on how to paint and what to include. But that was expected.
My assignment was simple. I kept telling Desi, “I can’t draw or paint.” But he didn’t care. I was given the job to paint a pattern along the top of the building. “Perfect,” I thought. Being that the mural was going to be in West Oakland-a predominately African American community and I being a Black person it only made sense to paint some kind of African rooted pattern. I chose to paint adrinka symbols from the Akan people of Ghana. Each black and red symbol holds a specific meaning and chosen specific from this neighborhood. Though majority of the residents in the area who will walk pass these symbols may not understand the meaning behind them, there’s still power in these and hopefully spark the curiosity of one individual to up look the meaning.
april 19, 2010
Monday, April 19, 2010
This mural was the first of 4 murals that will be done in the new Martin Luther King Cultural Corridor that we are creating. These mural run primarily on Martin Luther King and 25th but will extend to Grand Ave. (the entrance to the corridor) and reach all the way to one of our older murals at 28th and MLK.
Monday, March 22, 2010
As a writer, it was important for me to acknowledge and celebrate the life of my grandmother, Bama. Writers always acknowledge transitions and important points in the lives of our family and extended family with paintings. I remember our brother Raven rocking the city with the names of each of his children when they were born.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
My name is Juan Velasco aka "CHE''1 my experince doing the canves was fun and aways a good opportonity to have better hand control and every time I do a canves i learn something new each time...
Monday, March 8, 2010
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Sunday, February 28, 2010
Here are a few pictures at the new mural location. More photos and a lo-fi montage of the mural site coming soon, be sure to check back to be amazed by the beauty The Community Rejuvenation Project brings to some of the more grimy parts of town.
Day 1 was mostly filled with sketching out the general ideas and getting to know the people of the community, letting them know What we are doing? and Why we are here?
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
My name is Martin and it was my first time
spray painting by myself and it was kinda hard.
I learned a lot spray painting and I liked it. My fingers kinda
hurt but it was worth the experience I wouldn't mind doing it again though.
I learned how to clean up the lines to make them look better and getting better at spray painting. The things i would have done better was to put more designs in my pieces. Next time i spray paint i hope to have a lot more detail.