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9 MASSIVE New Murals By Oakland Artists Around Jack London Square

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By Amanda Davis

May is the first ever Oakland Art Month, and to continue the celebration post-Blurry Vision Music Fest and Turfinc Cinco de Mayo, the same people who previously hosted the Bay Area Mural Festival in Berkeley and Richmond made their way to Oakland.

Mural by Mike ‘Bam’ Tyau  & Jesus Rodriguez .  #Olmec and Chinese motifs as ancestral guardian totems.   Photo by Amanda Davis

The Oakland Mural Festival took place throughout the entire week of May 12, ending with an enormous closing ceremony Saturday that offered all sorts of food, music, local vendors, and of course, mural art.

According to the BAMFest website and coordinator Sarah Siskin, the mural festival is meant to bring together local artists and East Bay youth to highlight Oakland’s thriving art community.

Yeeee, Artist collaboration @berj.j.berj @timothyb_art @chuckinglights @creativeshields The dancer is @icecold3000.  Photo by Amanda Davis

“The festival will call attention to social issues, honor the legacy of Oakland’s historically industrial waterfront, and celebrate Oakland’s cultural identity,” Siskin said.

Colorful arrows throughout the city guided art fans to Jack London Square where nine murals were staged as part of this year’s festival, including work by Mike “BAM” Tyau, Dave Young Kim, Los Pobres Artista (with the help of Oakland International High School) and Caleb Duarte, to name just a few.

Caleb Duarte working on ‘Embassy of the Refugee’. Photo by Amanda Davis

Duarte’s mural took a political direction, using the opportunity to let the art be a voice for youth. His piece “Embassy of the Refugee” (located at 201 Broadway St.) included three separate but connected murals that came together with the help of his wife Mari Martinez and 10 Guatemalan students from the Embassy of the Refugee Project, a creative nucleus and resource center for refugee and immigrant children and families living the in Fruitvale district of Oakland.

By Caleb Duarte & Mari Martinez. Photo by Amanda Davis

“There is this empty lot here that will probably become expensive complex apartments, but what if it became a safe place for refugees? An embassy,” Duarte said. “With these murals, we are peacefully giving an alternative that could make a difference to these kids.”

Photo by Amanda Davis

The embassy Duarte hopes the empty lot will become would be a positive alternative to what he believes is a growing gentrification problem in Oakland.

‘Han’. Mural by Dave Young Kim & Erik Burke

Like Duarte, many artists continued to work on their murals during the closing ceremony Saturday, using the entire week to inspire, incorporate and connect with the city of Oakland. Artists David Burke, Jesus Rodriguez and The Creative Shields gave locals a front-row seat to their creative process and a clear picture of their love for Oaktown.

The Creative Shields crew captured a part of the city’s unique personality that many love and can relate to: the image of a happy, carefree, young black man dancing his heart out. With a huge canvas next to the train tracks on Jefferson Street, it was one of the most popular of the nine murals.

Photo by Amanda Davis

“It’s definitely one of the best, in my opinion,” said Mariah Ortiz, an art fan and festival-goer. “This is my third day back to see their progress. I can’t wait to see how it turns out when they’re finished.”

Every piece was packed with meaning and felt like a piece of home that people like Ortiz could resonate with, from the undeniable Oakland pride that poured from Trust Your Struggle’s “Oakland Dreams” (located at 400 Franklin St.) to the “Earth Sanctuary” mural done by Los Pobres Artistas in collaboration with Oakland high school youth (on exhibit at 370 4th St.).

Trust Your Struggle’s “Oakland Dreams” Photo by Amanda Davis

Oakland Dreams #bayareamuralfestival #bamfest #trustyourstruggle ?:@erinyoshi

A post shared by Trust Your Struggle™ (@trustyourstrugglecollective) on

Along with the art, the festival helped local restaurants and breweries by promoting the local businesses. Jewelers, clothing companies and print artists from all over the East Bay got the chance to share their work from the center of Jack London Square while festival-goers made their way along the few blocks to each mural.

Photo by Amanda Davis

BAMFest’s painted direction signs led people to each art installation and nearby spots for a cold beer or a glass of wine. It was a true community event that let talent do the talking.

Mural by Los Pobres Artistas & Oak Int High School Youth. Photo Amanda Davis

Where to find all the new murals:

???#OAKLANDMURALFESTIVAL BEGINS! ??? Here’s your map to the walls! Catch the muralists live at these 9 sites throughout #JackLondonSquare from May 12-19! Take flicks, tag our IG & #Oaklandmuralfestival and let us know you’re out here. ?????????? #Murals #Oaklandartmonth #LiveArt #Process #streerart #BayAreaMuralFestival #oaklandart 1. Jack Eastgate &Alise Eastgate ofEastRand Studios: @EastRandStudios
697 2nd St (corner of 2nd st and MLK) 2. Mike Bam Tyau @miketyau and Jesus Rodriguez @Ease_us
101 Jefferson St. (MLK & Embarcadero West) 3. Creative Shields aka Lower Bottoms Collective: James Shields @CreativeShields
Berj @berj.j.ber Chuck Light C.light
Timothy B. @Timothyb_art 101 Jefferson St. 4. Caleb Duarte @Caleb_Arte_ with Embassy of the Refugee Project
201 Broadway St. 5. Trust Your Struggle Collective @TrustYourStruggle
Erin Yoshi @ErinYoshi
Miguel Bounce Perez @MisterBounce Nisha K. Sethi @Nisha.k.Sethi
400 Franklin St. 6. Oakland International High School youth with teaching artists Los Pobres Artistas Collective @LosPobresArtistas 370 4th St. @ Webster 7. Susan Greene and Art Forces @ArtForces @DrSRGreene
370 4th St @ Webster 8. Dave Young Kim @DaveYoungKim
200 Webster St. 9. David Burke @davidburke_studio
78 4th ST Don’t forget Gallery 54, the Oakland Mural Festival Headquarters is open throughout the week
54 Washington! Come through!

A post shared by BAMFest (@bayareamuralfestival) on

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