The first few images posted here were created some months ago by a collective of women artists up from LA. Sorry, I don't know their names so we will just have to let the images speak for themselves.
This skeletal gal with her blood-red lips and blood-red roses rises from the ground on the side of the building facing Mandela Pky. She watches the wall not the street, but if you're near by, you can't miss her.
From death comes life, from grey blooms red.
The warehouse hosting the art occupies all of a rather large block, and this piece (pictured on the right), somewhat more 'traditional' than the living skeleton popping from the grave, runs for some twenty feet.
I paused for quite some time before this piece. I was not as much intrigued by the cartoon-like figure in the foreground as I was entranced by colors of the imagination in the background. I appreciate that cloud behind. It lifts me away from city streets into a paradise of unfocused thought.
In Michael Walsh's book 1996 Graffito, Oakland street artist Eskae suggests that "graffiti has a lot to do with language and people taking back the language." In this mural, I read the language of hope, of caring, of dreaming, especially in this outrageous portrait of beauty and audacity. This green-cheeked woman is heads above me, literally, a giantess looking down without any condemnation or regret. She offers strength. This is how we should all look at the street, invitingly, straight on with no fear and plenty of warmth.
The imaginative visions of both portraits drawn and the tangled woven calligraphy of the stylized signatures on these walls remind all who pass that art is not all about commerce, that there are ways for artists to use time that create beauty and joy for those who live in worlds away from museums or galleries. Passers-by cannot help but muse about the generosity of those who created these murals. This once dreary corner has been transformed to a beautiful happy place.
In this panel (pictured on the left),two playful figures are floating on clouds, spinning records in the sky, raining music down on the bold bright colors of the cityscape. I'm listening, and I hope you are, too. I even felt like dancing.
Dance, America, dance in the streets.
Stars on the ground may be indeed Few and Far between, but they are there and we can see them sparkle if we only stop long enough to look, to really look. Maybe we can't understand every image or every moment tucked behind transformed letters, but we can feel the exuberance and perhaps, if we are lucky, some of that joy will stay with us as we turn away and walk again past empty lots strewn with trash or past abandoned buildings with broken windows.
We might know then that is not the V for Victory these two young woman flash, but the sign for PEACE. Those who cry for war are many; those who promote peace are Few and Far between.
What happens when a sharp-nailed werewolf dressed in purple silks balances the sign for the recycling firm East Bay Resources on the flat of her nose? We laugh and then we knock on the door with a smile on our face, ready to do what we can do to recycle and renew.
As we move onto the far north walls of this building, we leave behind the work of the LA artists and come to walls currently being painted by Oakland artists, including the talented folks of the TDK crew. When asked what TDK 'means,' you might hear Those Damn Kids or Tax Dollars Kill or Too Damn Kool or Teach Dem Kultur or The Dream Krew. The Dream Krew -- that's what it's all about, dreaming, sharing the dream, encouraging others to dream.
The waking dream.
As Carl Jung suggested Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.
Trust the dream.