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Temescal Mural Tour

Take a moment to close your eyes and awaken your ears to your current surroundings. What do you hear?

Traffic on the highways above? BART trains coming and going via the MacArthur station? Footsteps of commuters as they move about the neighborhood?

You’ll quickly notice that the exact place where you are is at the center of connection. The noise from the cars up above, the BART trains, buses, and scooters immediately illuminate that this specific neighborhood is an epicenter for transportation and access to local restaurants, breweries, coffee shops, and more. You are in North Oakland, more specifically, the Temescal neighborhood.

This tour will take you on an experience of Oakland’s culture and history through the murals and public art.

Keep in mind that this neighborhood is bursting with art! So if you see a mural that is not mentioned below, snap a picture and share it on Instagram with the hashtag #OaklandLoveIt!


 

1. MacArthur Bart Station

By David Adams

This mural was created in 2002 by artist Mark Adams. What does it look like to you?

Some say it looks like a deflated hot air balloon. Others say it represents diversity, a flower in bloom, or peacock feathers. The beautiful thing about murals and public art, in general, is that they are up to your interpretation. What you see and pick up from it won't be the same thing as the next person.

Here are a couple of fun facts about this piece:

  • This mural was initially a mosaic but was converted into a painted mural because the trains above would make the tiles fall off of the walls.
  • The two murals in the MacArthur BART station are identical except for the colors used in them. Can you notice the differences?

 

MacArthur Bart Station Mural

2. Abundant Knowledge

By Community Rejuvenation Project and Blanche Richardson

Before reaching Telegraph Avenue, we’re going to take a quick detour to Marcus Books on Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Here, you’ll find an incredible piece painted in 2013 by the Community Rejuvenation Project and Blanche Richardson.

If one person were to study all of the intricacies on this wall, they would come away with a rush of emotions, feelings, and questions. You could spend a lifetime studying the different books and people represented in them and on the mural. Notice the exclamation point on the last pillar, the Ten-Point Platform of the Black Panther Party.

The Ten-Point Platform was written in 1966 by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale to establish the goals and direction of the Party. There's a lot of greatness right here on one wall.

Though powerful, beautiful, and necessary, this mural is a hidden gem. Similar to the culture of Oakland, it must be sought out. One must walk off the beaten path to find the true essence of this community, city, and culture.

Abundant Knowledge

3. Arrangements of Power

By Thailan When

Before we go up Telegraph, let’s take a few steps down the block to Wild Child Boutique. You’ll encounter a beautiful mural titled, Arrangements of Power. This mural, painted by Thailan When, “brings awareness to social hierarchies, namely race.” You will notice individuals represented by a single color and their identities flattened by the color they are assigned.

There is an acknowledgment of differences in this piece while maintaining “the hope and dream that we may find a way to come together.” In the words of When, “despite our differences, as a community and as a country, our destinies are inextricably intertwined.”

Are any of these silhouettes recognizable? Keep an eye out for Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks.

(P.S. If you’re wondering who that lady is in the photo, it’s me, your tour guide!)

Arrangements of Power

4. Electric Boxes on Telegraph (15)

By Eduardo Valadez, Leticia Javier, and Aaron Hansen

You’ve officially started your ascent up Telegraph Avenue. Along this street, you’ll encounter art, even on the electric boxes. The first one reads, “Welcome to Temescal. Ohlone Land.”

Ohlone (oh loh nee) is the preferred name for the Indigenous people of the East Bay Area. More broadly, the term Ohlone includes a language group of approximately 50 tribes that inhabited land from the San Francisco Bay Area all the way down to the Big Sur coast.

If you look at the back of this electric box, it reads, “Bring back Temescal Creek and its rainbow trout.” You may not have known that Temescal began with a creek. Unfortunately, most of the Temescal Creek has dried up or flows underground, exiting near the city of Emeryville.

The history, culture, and stories are all around you, even on electric boxes! See if you can find the 15 painted electrical boxes that depict the nature, urban environment, and history of Temescal.

Electrical Boxes In Temescal

5. Bay Area

By GirlMobb and the Graffiti Camp for Girls

You've just arrived on the corner of 42nd and Telegraph. Across the street is a vibrant mural on the side of Temescal Studios with the words ‘Bay Area’ splayed across it.

Led by GirlMobb, this mural was created by five teen girls and a handful of volunteers participating in a graffiti camp. GirlMobb began Graffiti Camp For Girls, an Oakland-based nonprofit, with the mission of teaching teen girls and gender-expansive youth how to paint murals using spray paint. Participants learn how to paint and complete the final two days with a collaborative mural in the week-long camp.

The Bay Area mural theme was chosen by a 12-year-old student who dreamed about riding a BART train with zoo animals. The team composed a drawing to bring her dream to life, followed by completing the final mural design.

The garage door painting next door is a spray-painted mural of Kali, the Hindu goddess of creation, destruction, and death, done exclusively by GirlMobb.

Next to her work is a mural by GATS. Quoted from his Instagram account, “a familiar face in an unexpected place,” you can quickly recognize his public artworks throughout Oakland because they always take on a similar style.

Bay Area Mural

6. Way To Remember

By Lena Gustafson

Ahhh, the lady in recline. This mural was painted in 2017 by artist Lena Gustafson. If you’re anything like me, you will immediately fall in love with this piece. I love it for its beauty, its colors, the natural curvature of her body, and the warm brown tone of her skin. But, I love it even more for exemplifying self-care. The lady in recline is depicted six times. Can you find them?

Ways To Remember

7. Roman Chariot

By Billy Sprague, Jake Watling, Faring Purth, Rich Jacobs, and others

If you look across the street, you’ll notice a collaborative mural that takes up almost the entirety of the block. What is the reason you know multiple people did it?

Though one piece, there are very different styles.

This mural was commissioned in 2011 and includes contributions from various artists, including Billy Sprague, Jake Watling, Faring Purth, and Rich Jacobs. The entire mural covers over 4,000 square feet of the surface.

Can you find:

  • “Listen with your eyes” embedded in this mural?
  • What about, “oh yeah, if you can try to do something creative every day?”

 

Roman Chariot

8. Thank You Dubs

By The Illuminaries

That’s definitely Klay Thompson making his three-pointer shot eyes. Painted in June 2019, this mural is a simple depiction of gratitude from the Warriors to the City of Oakland.

Thank You Dubs

9. Luna y Libertad

By Leslie “La Dime” Lopez

This outstanding piece by Leslie “La Dime” Lopez is just one of many that wrap the Critical Resistance Oakland office building. Critical Resistance is a grassroots organization seeking to build an international movement to end the Prison Industrial Complex. This piece depicts a moon goddess spreading the organization’s abolitionist strategy to "Dismantle, Change, and Build.”

In addition to the bold and bright colors illuminating behind the goddess and nature details found in the mural, a special quote from Frantz Fanon, a West Indian philosopher and revolutionary, is displayed in the center of the piece. It reads, “When we revolt it's not for a particular culture. We revolt simply because, for many reasons, we can no longer breathe.”

Luna Y Libertad

10. Kasper’s Hot Dogs

By Bukue One

The infamous Kasper’s building. Though Kasper’s Hot Dogs is no longer in operation, it has been and will continue to be a historic local landmark. This entire building is currently being curated by Tion Torrence, more notably known as Bukue One. Bukue is a well-established Bay Area artist that constantly updates the murals on Kasper’s in collaboration with other muralists. Currently, the wall is a purple color in tribute to Prince. In addition, the graffiti letters that cover the building are tributes to influential people, including Tion’s late mother, Joyce, who passed away in 2019.

Kasper's Hot Dogs

11. RISE

By Lori Ann Fischer

Positioned just off Telegraph Avenue at the intersection of Shattuck Avenue and 45th Street is this stunning mural by Lori-Anne Fisher, created in 2017. This mural is titled 'RISE' and is thought of by Fischer as ‘the protector of the street.’ To take in the full splendor of the mural, head across the street. What you’ll notice is three layers, the first layer being the base color, followed in bold by the word RISE, completed by a depiction of a sprawling tree.

The essence of Oakland is portrayed through this mural. We see an image that is simple yet powerful, rooted yet rising. A direct continuum exists between the city’s name, Oakland–or broken down, the land of the Oak trees–and this piece.

In the midst of the vibrancy and busyness of the city, murals like this bring a sense of calm.

RISE

12. Mosaic Trash Cans

By Juan Lopez, New World Mosaics

Take a moment to observe the trash cans. You may have noticed that they also have art on them. The trash cans you’ve passed in Temescal between 40th and 55th Streets have been mosaiced by New World Mosaics artist Juan Lopez. Initially, this project began because Juan wondered what a city looks like from three feet and below, the average vantage point of a child. Each of the mosaiced cans in Temescal has a specific reference to culture, Oakland’s history, and pride. You will find mosaiced trash cans by Juan and other artists throughout Oakland.

Mosaic Trash Can

13. Marshawn Lynch and Kevin Durant

By Jc.Ro

Painted in 2017 by JC.Ro is this mural of Kevin Durant and Marshawn Lynch, two of the Bay Area's favorite athletes. JC.Ro’s specialty is completing murals solely using triangles. Technically, this piece is considered to be two separate murals. Notice that this piece has a huge physical presence, even though neither the Raiders nor the Warriors have a presence in the city anymore. Essentially, this speaks to the rapid change of identity that the city of Oakland is currently undergoing. Only time will tell how this city will blossom.

Marshawn Lynch & Kevin Durrant Mural


This experience was crafted by The Cosmopolitan Project (TCP), a division of Made In Color, an Oakland-based creative agency. TCP specializes in building community and amplifying stories that are typically untold, undersold, or marginalized. We connect our clients to the communities they know and love by creating hyperlocal content that is deeply rooted in community, inclusivity, and culture. 

Jena Dominique and Brianna Mills, two MIC creatives, created this self-guided itinerary. Jena is a prominent Bay Area voice and tastemaker. Her specialty is producing multimedia content and activations that shift the perspective of Oakland. Jena has been designing and leading experiences in Oakland for the past five years.

Brianna is a copywriter, editor, and strategist that also lends her talents as a professional travel writer and photographer for various publications across the globe. A creative and trained professional, Brianna has several years of experience perfecting her inclusive writing and communications skills while also sharing her knowledge, work, and creative journey through storytelling.

Images for this blog were captured by Alexa “Lexx Marie” Brown, a Bay Area artist whose mediums include photography, henna design, and tattooing. Lexx has been an entrepreneur since 2015 and is the proud owner and curator of Lexx Marie Arts & Photography studio.