Monday, December 12, 2011
Thursday, December 8, 2011
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Over the past weekend, Community Rejuvenation Project was blessed to collaborate again with Lavie Raven, a master aerosol writer from Chicago. One of the fastest and most efficient writers that we've encountered. Raven is also an innovator in the world of Hip-Hop Education. A Co-Founder and Director of the University of Hip-Hop, Raven has been teaching youth the techniques of aerosol painting for 20 years. CRP founder, Desi W.O.M.E, was one of his students beginning in 1993. The University of Hip-Hop incorporates the other three elements of hip-hop including emceeing, deejaying and breaking as well. UHH is a program in numerous schools and community centers, including partnerships with Connect Force, the massive hip-hop program on the north side of Chicago. Raven is on the board of directors at the Southwest Youth Collaborative, which is home to the original University of Hip-Hop classes. Raven's art have taken him all over the country and to several countries. He regularly visits the Community Rejuvenation Project, at least once a year for the past four years. Raven's presence brings new energy and guarantees the creation of at least one mural over the course of days. Kilumbo Warriors, Respeta Tonantzin, and the 2009 Summer Youth Employment Program are just a few of the projects that Raven has participated in. He has also facilitated several cultural exchanges for youth between Chicago and Oakland. In 2012, CRP is looking to expand their collaboration with Raven and the University of Hip-Hop to four visits throughout the year.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Photos by Eric Arnold, Daniel Zarazua and Desi W.O.M.E
In solidarity with the Oakland General Strike and the Liberate Oakland Movement, the Community Rejuvenation Project is proud to present our latest mural, “Sprouted Prayers: Underground Resistance.” The project reflects the prayers of our ancestors manifesting in our placement in the struggle today. At the core of the mural is Underground Resistance, encouraging 99% struggling for economic and social justice to remain firm in their commitment. African and Indigenous elders and Taiwanese freedom fighters stand with the Black Panthers and Harriet Tubman endorsing and supporting the emerging generation of youth carrying the movement forward. Calendar images from the Mexica Sun Stone that mark relevant dates are interspersed with the butterflies also representing the ancestors. The youngest warrior on the wall is Selah, the latest addition to the W.O.M.E massive, who was born while the mural was being painted. Beats 737 added his name to the wall.
The vision for the new piece grew out of a dialogue initiated by Daniel Zarazua, a CRP photographer and regular collaborator, who wanted to see connections made to his hometown of Detroit and his motherland, Taiwan. Underground Resistance also has direct connection to the techno innovators with the same name. The collective of DJs and musicians carry a parallel revolutionary message and avant-guard approach to music. His research also led to the inclusion of the indigenous Taiwanese freedom fighters who resisted Japanese imperialism in the 1930s.
The mural features the work of guest artist and master aerosol writer, Lavie Raven (feature post on Raven coming soon). Raven has visited the collective regularly and flew in over the weekend to participate in a series of murals as CRP restores and redoes its works on the Martin Luther King Cultural Corridor. The project was the historic first meeting and collaboration between Raven and fellow master practitioner Mike 360. Rounding out the artists were Beats 737, Muse, Abakus, Pancho Pescador and Desi W.O.M.E. Photographer and Communications Director, Eric Arnold even contributed, painting kemetic symbols for the primarily African American community where the mural resides.
Located at 28th and Martin Luther King Way, the latest mural was created as part of the CRP’s mural restoration and maintenance program. When murals fade or are significantly vandalized, the collective returns to restore or repaint the works. The previous mural, “Four Elements,” had received some minor mosquito bites from the local fan club and faded significantly prior to its replacement with the latest works.
Visit Daniel Zarazua's website at www.domingoyu.com
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Monday, October 31, 2011
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Friday, October 28, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Monday, October 24, 2011
Photos by Eric Arnold
The stretch of Martin Luther King Way running from West Grand Avenue to 580 Freeway lies within one of Oakland's deadliest neighborhoods, appropriately nicknamed Ghosttown by the local residents. Homeless encampments populate the long dark stretches under the freeway overpasses. Drugs and alcohol are rampant. Dotted with liquors store and abandoned buildings, the neighborhood accumulates the more litter than the majority of the city. Nearby San Pablo Ave is haven for prostitution.
A year ago, CRP made an effort to improve the quality of life in the neighborhood for local residents. The collective painted 5 murals along a four block stretch between 22nd and Sycamore and named the area the Martin Luther King Cultural Corridor in an effort to protect their work from city abatement. The project centered on 25th and MLK. In January 2010, CRP had picked up 7 bags of trash from that corner while birthing the original mural, Oakland Celebrations, depicting Carijama, indigenous and Chinese dancers connected through the wheels of colorful scraper bikes.
The collective had observed that the mural had accumulated a large collection of signatures from a confused fan club, who seemed to think that signing their name to mural would give them credit for painting it. Mike 360 and Desi W.O.M.E went to work transforming sections of the abandoned Foster's Freeze with new pieces and covering up the "mosquito bite" signatures. Across the street, the "Love, Art and Music are the Universal Language" mural on the chain link fence had been haphazardly flipped over by construction workers who were rebuilding the park. The park had been shut down years before when it devolved into a shooting gallery for local heroin addicts. The artists had only planned on doing some maintenance on the mural and left behind their clean-up tools. Regardless, the project was too massive for two people in one afternoon. The artists repaired the front of the building and left.
A plan was made to return the following week and do a more comprehensive project. Elijah would drive up from Santa Cruz and new works would be painted on the wood fence in the lot. The art would begin on Friday and a volunteer clean-up would be organized for Saturday morning. The trash piled behind the building dwarfed the litter in the front. Vandals had struck a newly painted, yet still boarded up house, with bubble letters that reached over the windows. The entire lot was strewn with garbage ranging from moldy couches to fast food packaging. Local dopefiends gathered in the clutter to smoke their rocks out of site. Amidst the rubble, a soggy abatement notice from the city of Oakland partially protruded limply from a pile near the fence.
As Elijah and Desi began on the most prominent area of the fence, local residents began passing by and complimenting them on their work. The two artists painted throughout the afternoon, utilizing the garbage to stand on and reach the top of the fence. Elijah was interested in making a statement for the local community and Desi drew the connection between the national foreclosure crisis and the neighborhood gentrification. Desi painted the word "Divest" in an elaborate style and Elijah complimented it with a character wearing the facade of a house as his attire, representative of the basic need in the community for adequate housing. They planned to write "Bankers' Greed vs. People's Need" on the side. As the sun was going down, the artists were joined by Beats who prepared a section to the left to say "Resistance." Right before dark, the artists were visited by two police officers. Expecting their support, Desi greeted them. They were shocked when they were told to stop immediately or face arrest. The owner of the fence had complained, even though the mural faced the abandoned lot and not the man's property. Desi and Elijah had gotten verbal permission from a man sitting on the porch of the house earlier that day, so the occurrence was strange. The artists' requests to speak to the owner were repeatedly denied. The group explained the plans for the clean-up project and were ignored. The property owner's word was final. The group was ordered to paint over the mural in the morning or face arrest. Meanwhile nothing would be done about the lot, because that was a different owner's responsibility. The next morning, the artists complied with the request and painted over the mural, leaving a message questioning the city's abatement strategy in its wake.
This experience exemplifies the city's disjointed approach to community clean-up. Artist painting a mural in an abandoned lot to improve the neighborhood are ordered to stop while nothing is done to clean the enormous piles of trash at the same location. Private property owners are the only people with rights under these circumstances. When they do not comply with abatement standards, they are given meaningless notices and the trash remains. When the community attempts to transform an abandoned and blighted lot, they are pushed out because they are not the property owners, yet the entire neighborhood is affected by the neglect of a few absentee landlords. Blight reinforces the degradation of the neighborhood in the consciousness of the community. Its demoralizes and disempowers the residents. Murals on the other hand, help define the identity of the neighborhood and become a source of pride. They give people something that they want to maintain. Given the proper support, murals can transform a community without pushing out its long-term residents and raise the property values for a neighborhood without gentrification. CRP believes in a holistic strategy to abatement that included surveys, murals, community clean-up, and block parties. Its time for a new approach to the maintenance of our neighborhoods.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Friday, October 21, 2011
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Monday, October 17, 2011
Friday, October 7, 2011
The fervor sweeping the nation to take back the power from the oligarchy of rich corporations and private individuals grips us tighter every day. On the way to the Bronx to visit Rebel Diaz, CRP founder, Desi W.O.M.E dropped by Wall Street to offer support to the 99% of Americans, continually suffering from the greed from a minuscule hyper-affluent super minority. W.O.M.E dedicated most his time to writing out signs connecting the protest to other movements happening throughout the world, including the California Prisoner Hunger Strike, which restarted last week, as well as the anti-death penalty advocacy that has been happening for the past 100+ years. We connect the turn of the 20th century case of Sacco and Vanzetti to the similar recent execution of Troy Davis, both of whom has massive international public support but were still murdered at the hands of the state. We recognize that protesting and marches were not enough, but they are a good start to inform and draw in the community for something much bigger. As transformative muralists, CRP understands the power of transforming dreams, visions and ideas into reality. We are the 99% and we will prevail! * We want to recognize and acknowledge the issue with the term "Occupy," we recognize that "America" has been unjustly occupied for the past 500 years and that this is, in fact, indigenous land. Wall Street does not need to be occupied, it needs to be decolonized.
Monday, October 3, 2011
Richmond turned out deep to the grand opening of its first and only Bike Lounge, the Spokes Shop, on Sunday. Everyone from Mayor Gail McLaughlin to local farmers from Urban Tilth was on hand to dedicate the space and represent with Brian Drayton, executive director and the Spokes people, many young adults from all over Richmond. One young man explained his pride by stating that it was the first time he had seen a project all the way to fruition. CRP was in the building representing the popular mural painted by Elijah Pfotenhauer, Beats 737, and Desi W.O.M.E just a few weeks ago. The Spoke Shop is an innovative approach to promoting cycling culture. It will be a lounge and neighborhood hub, with coffee, books on biking. Spokes will offer a mobile bike repair service and other was to support bikers in the community. Located near the newly renovated Greenway, it will serve bikers throughout out the Bay Area. CRP was honored to participate in making the dream a reality and looks forward to creating more murals dedicated to healthy lifestyles in Richmond.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Photos by Eric Arnold
Last Saturday, the Community Rejuvenation Project artists descended on an unincorporated district of Hayward like a swarm of bees. Ashland and Cherryland are two of the most unregulated districts in the Alameda county. Not recognized as sovereign cities or as a part of the city of Hayward, the area has become a dumping ground for both criminals and corporations. Their incorporated status has left Ashland and Cherryland without government spokespeople to stand up and advocate for the area. Now local residents have decided to take measures into their own hands. This past weekend, the Ashland Cherryland Garden and Arts Network (ACGAN) organized a day of action in concert with a series of national events put on by 350.org, including the painting of a mural on a fence located at one of Ashland's most notorious corners, Laurel and Princeton. CRP artists Beats 737, Pancho Pescador, Mike 360, and Desi W.O.M.E, along with photographer, Eric Arnold and new intern, Seongeun Bak created an elaborate piece dedicated to bees and their role as pollinators. Their message to "Pollinate Your Community" reflects the goal of spreading gardens, arts and new life through Ashland. Local resident, event organizer and fence owner, Susan Beck made pancakes for the crew, who had to return Sunday morning to finalize some minor touch-ups. She told the artists that drivers were always slowing down to check out the new work and that everyone who passed by had nothing but positive responses to the new work. Look forward to new artwork in the surround gardens throughout the area!
Listen to the story below:
Ashland Cherryland KPFA interview by CRP Bay Area
From the KPFA Weekend News
Monday, September 26, 2011
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Friday, September 23, 2011
Monday, September 19, 2011
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Friday, September 16, 2011
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Monday, September 12, 2011
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Friday, September 9, 2011
Thursday, September 8, 2011
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
For the past two weeks, CRP Albuquerque artists, Release, Bryan, and Tosh, have been participating in the CRP Bay Area Artist in Residency program. During this time, they led the completion of the updates to the mural on the Parkway Theater, painted two electrical boxes in the area and were commissioned to do two signs in the neighborhood as well. The new blood was inspiration for the collective. Mike 360, Dora, Desi, Beats and Pancho all came out to participate in the project which also consisted of redoing a defaced door on the union hall and restoring the Rejuvenation mural on the corner. Earlier in the week, Pancho Pescador returned to add his butterfly stencils to the Parkway theater which completed the project.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
For the past two months, CRP has been blessed with a full time intern from Korea, Cheolwoo Kim. Cheolwoo flew back to Korea on Sunday, so last Friday, the collective decided to take him out for a night on the town. Cheolwoo did a lot of work for the collective, making relations with business owners in Koreatown and helping set-up projects that will be happening in the coming months. He also did tons of research for us in publishing and made some good contacts for future book projects. Cheolwoo immersed himself quickly and smoothly with us. He knows how to take a joke and to tell one. He also taught us a lot about Korean culture. For his last night with us, Desi attended his internship graduation before bringing him back for Indian food with the artists in residency, Steven and Bryan, as well as Beats and Dave. Afterwards, we took Cheolwoo to Art Murmur, where he got to see Jennifer Johns rock the mic on the G4G mobile solar sound system. We were sad to see Cheolwoo go, but we are hoping to visit him in Korea and paint some walls. In the meantime, we wish him the best!
Posted by Community Rejuvenation Project at Tuesday, September 06, 2011
Monday, August 22, 2011
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Friday, August 19, 2011
A little over a week ago, Pancho Pescador meet Pablo Paredes, a Ecuadorian and Puerto rican war resister and organizer with 67 Suenos, a grassroots organization giving a voice to undocumented youth in San Francisco. This began a whirlwind relationship as they instantly began implementing a massive 30' x 150' mural on 9th St. between Mission St. and Market in downtown San Francisco. "Pablo sent me some files of stories that the youth had written about their lives on Sunday, on Monday I sent him a sketch and by 3 o'clock that afternoon, we were painting." The mural tells the stories of three of the students in 67 Suenos and their struggles as undocumented immigrants. At the top of the building, the mural will conclude with the message that No Human Being is Illegal. This week, Pancho and the students brought in aerosol writers, Beats 737 and Desi W.O.M.E, also from the Community Rejuvenation Project, to contribute the words "67 Suenos" and "Resistance" on sections of the border wall depicted running through the mural. Pancho will continue painting through next Friday, when 67 Suenos will host a mural dedication event. Everyone is encouraged to attend.
For more information: visit www.67suenos.org or their Facebook event page.
Friday, August 26 · 6:00pm - 9:00pm
SF Friends Meeting / SF AFSC Offices
65 Ninth Street
San Francisco, California
For more information: visit www.67suenos.org or their Facebook event page.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
One of the mural's destroyed in the Funktown Arts District was a memorial of my grandmother, Bama. I started this a few months before she passed away and was able to bring her a blown-up photograph on my last visit to see her. We used it to cover up her television. When she passed away, I made some additions to the mural and placed flowers, candles and food in front of it to remember her and make her transition easy. During the year after she left, I would return to the wall periodically to remember and appreciate her presence in my life.
I probably would have left the mural up forever. The sudden destruction of the piece gave me a quick shock but I quickly realized the temporary nature of our paintings. Mike 360 taught me that our murals are like Tibetan sand paintings and that the prayers are not complete until they are erased. The tibetan spend up to two weeks constructing elaborate mandalas with sand only to sweep them up a broom immediately upon completion. No photograph is taken. No record is kept. This teaches us about the transitory nature of the universe.
While I was restoring another space on the Parkway, a beautiful Eritrean woman came by and I asked her for permission to photograph her. She had a beautiful spirit and I knew that she should take my grandmother's place. Eventually she will be releasing butterflies from her uplifted hand to represent the release of the prayer back into the universe. I am glad that this stage of the prayer is complete and thankful to the person who destroyed my grandmother's portrait for reminding me of the transitory nature of the universe.
- Desi W.O.M.E
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Monday, August 15, 2011
Photos by Daniel Zarazua
By Nicole Jones. (Reprinted from Oakland North)
A DJ spins cool cumbia-inspired beats under the dim lighting of Oakland’s Layover, as the people sitting on the plush couches are joined by friends. Some get up to dance as they make their way to the bar. On the wall are a series of artworks, done in a variety of mediums, from oil and aerosol paint to stencils. But the smooth, clean walls of this bar aren’t a natural home for these pieces of art, and for the artists who have painted them, it’s a major change from their usual canvas—abandoned buildings and walls.
One of the paintings, of a woman engulfed by strands of her blue and black hair, looks like something straight out of a Sin City comic. Another painting using a brighter blend of colors is of a young girl standing in long grass as she stares off into the distance.
The artwork belongs to the Community Rejuvenation Project, a grassroots collective of Oakland street artists from all types of backgrounds who work in a wide range of mediums. All of the artists have some experience with public art, whether it’s through graffiti art, tagging or doing murals. The Rejuvenation Art Show at the Layover, which opened last week and will run for the next month, demonstrates the group’s diverse styles, but it’s more than just about art.
“The idea of rejuvenation,” said Desi W.O.M.E., one of the project’s founders, “is that we’re targeting the most blighted areas; the places that the owners aren’t taking care of. We’re going out transforming these places to give them new life.”
W.O.M.E’s self-given last name often changes in meaning. One day it stands for “Weapons of Mass Expression.” On another it’s “Worries of Mother Earth,” “Without My Ego,” or one of the many others meanings that he says defines who he is. W.O.M.E, who is sporting a goatee with rectangular-framed glasses and a driving hat, doesn’t give his age; he just says, “I’m pretty old, but I’m getting younger every day. “
W.O.M.E. started off his art career as an aerosol writer in Chicago in the early 1990s. He studied under several influential stylists in Chicago that taught him how to conceptualize his graffiti lettering and penmanship. As he matured, he moved away from only painting his name to painting scenes of that included people and symbols. He’s now been painting murals in Oakland for a decade.
W.O.M.E. started off as what most cities deem an illegal graffiti writer, but over time has become a quasi-legit street artist. He still doesn’t always receive permission to paint at a particular location, and a lot of the time the murals are done covertly on abandoned properties. But with more murals being completed each month and CRP’s name showing up on more walls, community organizations and even the city of Oakland have begun to give the group their blessings.
He and other Oakland-based aerosol artists were painting murals under different names before the idea of forming the crew known as CRP was born approximately three years ago. “We wanted it to be something more inclusive that people could get down with,” he said.
By 2008, he and other artists did a couple of murals and starting signing the wall with “Community Rejuvenation.” In 2009, the group hosted a summer youth employment project that was funded by the Lao Family Community Development, a non-profit that serves low-income neighborhoods. With the grant money, W.O.M.E. was able to hire 30 Oakland youth to clean up 150 blocks around the areas where CRP was painting murals.
After each mural was finished, CRP and the young people from the employment program threw a block party for the community. The group provided food, music, dancing and performers, “just ways to really give the community ownership of the murals that we were doing,” W.O.M.E. said.
Shortly after the youth employment project, CRP, with the help of other youth art organizations like Art in Action, Colored Ink and Grind for Green, opened the Oakland Green Youth Media Arts Center, which helps underserved young people gain artistic and professional development. CRP members painted a large mural on the outside of the center, located at Telegraph and 28th Street, and after that, W.O.M.E. said, more and more people from all art mediums started approaching the group, asking if they could paint with them.
“We decided that we were going to open it up beyond the realm of where we come from which is the subway writing culture,” W.O.M.E. said. “We opened it up to brush painters, oil painters, stencil artists—just kind of got everyone involved.”
There are about 15 central people in the collective now, though not all are painters. Some are video artists and photographers, others are grant writers and interns who help with internal structure of the group so that they can sustain their mission of painting for the community.
In 2010, CRP completed 33 murals. So far this year, the group has finished 22 murals and W.O.M.E said they are headed towards 40 by the time the year is out.
Many of the murals the group paints deal with social issues like overconsumption of fossil fuels, police brutality, and the death Oscar Grant. Other themes celebrate family, health and cultural ancestry.
Last year, CRP created the MLK Cultural Corridor by painting a series of murals along the Martin Luther King Way strip in West Oakland. The murals include brightly colored images of historical figures like Marcus Garvey and Dorothy Height.
At 25th Street and Martin Luther King Way, an entire abandoned building was transformed with a variety of images, from indigenous people beating on drums to a child riding a tricycle to a snake holding a sign that says “Stop driving.” On the other side, the sign “Welcome to West Oakland, Mob Headquarters” greets traffic coming south down MLK Way.
For W.O.M.E, there are spiritual and moral impulses behind his paintings. “One of the first steps in all of this work is to understand who you are, what your role is, and our role is to craft these visual prayers to help the community regain its sense of identity,” W.O.M.E said. “As much as you see the billboards out there, Coca Cola and Chevron going out and advertising, acting like they are doing something positive, we have to counter that with community control of our visual space.”
His group believes that the city could do more to protect murals from being taken down by anti-blight city crews. W.O.M.E said he is working with the city of Oakland to craft a policy that would allow artists who have permission from the city to legally take over the exterior of abandoned spaces and transform them into pieces of art. W.O.M.E. said this would also involve responsibility for things like clean up and maintenance of the area near the mural, and in some instances, even creating small nearby gardens.
He feels that letting people paint on abandoned properties is one way a community can take ownership over blight in their area, even without the property owner’s consent. In most situations, he said, the owner is impossible to reach and is not keeping up with city standards of blight abatement. “We feel that the community, in the same way that you can adopt a median, should be to adopt the wall,” he said. “Instead of continuously making the city responsible, which costs taxpayer money, the community should have the option of saying, ‘We’re going to maintain this wall.’”
The group also hopes that the city will create a mural registry that will direct the city’s blight abatement organizations, Community Economic Development Agency and Public Works Department to not paint over CRP murals or others done by registered artists with the city’s permission. W.O.M.E. said that if a city worker can’t tell if the art they are looking at is a legitimate piece of community art or graffiti that adds to blight, then they can check a mural registry and see if it’s been labeled as protected.
“We’re on the ground painting murals that are actually going to affect the peoples lives,” he said, “but we’d like to be protected while we do that.”
Although the group believes it will be a while before the city initiates a mural registry, W.O.M.E said Oakland is still his favorite place to paint. “It’s the home of a lot of struggles, really powerful history from Black Panthers to a lot of the labor movements that came out of this,” he said. “I feel that the work that we’re doing here is directly inspired by all of the people that came here before us that paved the way. We’re really honored to be out here painting for the people.”
Check out the map to see where you can find some of CRP’s murals in Oakland. The Rejuvenation Art Show will continue at the Layover (1517 Franklin Street) until the end of August. And for more information about CRP, check out their website and read another Oakland North story about a CRP mural project at the St. Vincent de Paul Community Center.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Friday, August 12, 2011
Murals are a proven deterrent to vandalism. Still, there are rare occasions when our murals get damaged. In the case of the Funktown Arts District, there was a recent rash of destruction to several of the murals in the area by a delusional, disgruntled neighbor with a used up roller of grey paint. CRP makes a point to maintain its murals, either through restoration, or in this case, a complete repainting.
This morning, two CRP artists arrived to begin rejuvenating the damaged areas. It was a great opportunity to create a new piece, especially because the collective was never really satisfied with the original work. It also gave Cheolwoo, our Korean intern, an opportunity to participate and paint for the first time. Despite having never used a spray can, he immediately picked up and helped to the color the piece. Numerous neighbors and residents dropped by to express their disappointment in the damage to their colorful neighborhood, but they were all excited and supportive of the new artwork. We will be posting new photos of the next walls as they are created, so stay tuned!