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Artists Install ‘Know Justice Know Peace’ In Oakland City Hall

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Image by Red Hot Beverly Art Car, Black Rock Desert, NV.

I first encountered members of the Lumen Arts Crew in the middle of the Nevada desert, under a plume of fire shooting 30ft into the night sky, from the hose of a giant fire extinguisher on wheels.  We’d been led there by a pyromaniac named Marvin, who’d purchased hundreds of pounds of propane earlier that week, to help create the holy trinity for San Francisco burners, which is grilled cheese sandwiches, Dirty Breaks, and a fairly low probability of singed eyebrows.

Heathens danced in furs around a giant sheep and a steampunk zeppelin, their faces periodically lit up from the glow of soft neon and the light of streaming fire, shooting from the now legendary ‘fire extinguisher’ art car, Red Hot Beverly.

In 2022 Red hot Beverly carried the “Black Lives Matter” sign by Lumen Arts Crew to the Playa, pictured here accompanied by the Airpusher and the Baaahs art cars.

Which brings us to artist Mauricio Bustos of Lumen Arts Crew (and of Red Hot Bev), who recently installed a large, electrified sign in Oakland City Hall, across from the Council Chambers. So for this summer, every time the Mayor of Oakland goes to her office or other elected officials go to council, they cannot help but pass the words “Know Justice Know Peace”.

So meet Mauricio, and just a few of the artists you should know, spending months if not years of their blood sweat and tears, making public art for the Bay.

“K(NO)W JUSTICE, K(NO)W PEACE” is a billboard-sized animated art project, currently installed in Oakland’s City Hall.

Artist Name: Mauricio Bustos
Artist medium(s): LED, Wood, Steel, Electronics
Artist Crew Social Handle @lumenartscrew
Art Project Donations: here

BAS: Describe your latest installation at Oakland City Hall:

Mauricio Bustos:  “K(NO)W JUSTICE, K(NO)W PEACE” is a billboard-sized animated art project, currently installed in Oakland’s City Hall. “No Justice, No Peace” is a powerful social justice slogan that originated in the 1980s during protests against acts of violence against African Americans.

By adding a K and W to the “NO” in the slogan, we are emphasizing the conjunctive interpretation that neither peace nor justice can exist without the other. Each of the twenty 26” tall letters was CNC cut, painted and then wrapped in 200’ of LEDs. The mounting system is industrial-strength and modular so that we can transport and easily install at different locations. A computer performs animation to toggle between “NO JUSTICE NO PEACE” and “KNOW JUSTICE KNOW PEACE” and other invocations of the slogan.

“K(NO)W JUSTICE, K(NO)W PEACE” is a billboard-sized animated art project, currently installed in Oakland’s City Hall.

Who helped you with this project and how did you get permission?

The lumenCrew is a diverse group of Bay Area artists and builders.   We’ve been together for over a decade and are currently based in Emeryville at Crisis Labs Art Collective at the Oakology wood working shop. No projects of this size can be done without having a creative, dedicated, hard-working, and fun-loving crew of people around you.   

Council member Carroll Fife (District 3) of Oakland awarded this piece at the 2023 Autumn Lights Festival at Lake Merritt.   She asked if we could display it at City Hall sometime and I took her up on it.  The people at City Hall have been incredibly generous with their time and very supportive of the work.   

Is it true the mayor will have to walk past “know justice know peace” every time they want to go to work? 

It’s currently on the 3rd floor at City Hall across from the Council Chambers which also shares space with the City Administrator and Mayor’s offices

We hear you and artist Abi Mustapha were responsible for the  ‘Neon Voices’ installation, where is it now?  (an animated, billboard-sized combination of letters and graphics covered in LEDs)

In 2020, in response to police violence and racism, The lumenCrew crew collaborated to create a large-scale, modular display with a potent anti-racism statement and graphic. The artwork incorporates LED lighting and animation for high-visibility impact.

This installation is a “BLACK LIVES MATTER” sign featuring a striking graphic designed by local Oakland artist Abi Mustapha. It’s currently on display at the Rising Sun Center for Opportunity building in Emeryville and is visible from I-580 to thousands of cars daily.  The sign has been on display since 2020 and is constantly maintained to handle the harsh environment at that location.

Video of the ‘Black Lives Matter neon sign:

Working on anything for Burning Man these days? 

Because of funding and timing issues, I’m not going to be able to finish REUNITE in time.   I am, however, one of the leads with the Red Hot Beverly art car, a giant fire-spewing fire extinguisher.   We’re currently working on getting her ready with some fun upgrades for this year’s burn.

Changing Tides, Richmond Ferry Terminal by Jeff Reed and Jen Madden.

Any Bay Area artists you think people NEED to hear about? 

Yes!  Berkeley-based Jeff Reed and Jen Madden are a couple of amazing artists that build some incredible large, steel, public art all over the US.   Their latest Bay Area piece, Changing Tides, is at the Richmond Ferry Terminal.

Ronald Rael, who created the REUNITE sign.

Ronald Rael, who created the REUNITE sign, is a professor at UC Berkeley and has created meaningful work challenging the ideas of borders in society.   His work at the US-Mexico border is mind-blowing.

What’s coming up next for you?  

REUNITE is an art piece that will serve as a protest against the policy of family separation at the southern US border. The disturbing reality persists, with thousands of children enduring extended stays in border facilities, facing protracted delays in the crucial process of reuniting them with family or placing them in secure family environments.

The installation aims to be an enlightening force, prompting reflection on the values that matter to us as global citizens, concerning migration, equality, and basic decency. By utilizing an official street sign as the foundation of our art piece, we aim to spotlight the stark contradiction inherent in governmental immigration policies, underscoring the dissonance between stated principles and actual practice.

Ronald Rael: An architect’s subversive reimagining of the US-Mexico border wall | TED

“REUNITE” seeks to engage viewers in a dialogue, inviting them to question societal priorities and the ethical dimensions of our shared humanity.  We are directly drawing from the sign created by Ronald Rael ( who had the foresight to open-source the image as a way to help spread this powerful message more easily.

REUNITE is crafted from plywood, steel, and LED neon strips, seamlessly blending retro aesthetics with neon-like animation to depict a poignant scene of a separated family running towards each other. The installation features 4-foot-high LED letters, elevated 15 feet above the ground. Larger-than-life figures, symbolizing the separated family, are strategically positioned off the end of the sign, creating a compelling visual narrative. The overall dimensions of the installation span over 100 feet in length, 25 feet in height, and 10 feet in width.

Want to help Help Keep the Fire Burning for lumenArtsCrew

Help them raise the funds, to keep making incredible, justice-driven work in the Bay Area:

Donate to Maintain These Bay Area Art Projects: Here

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