Art has long been used as a form of protest, and nowhere is this truer today, perhaps, than in downtown Oakland, where breathtaking murals cover nearly every storefront on Broadway.
Local artists—both professionals and members of the community—are painting messages of justice.
Last week, an epic yellow "Black Lives Matter" painted across two blocks leading to the White House in Washington D.C. inspired similar murals across the country, including one in Oakland that spans three blocks of 15th Street. The project was completed by several local artists, as well as many community members and curious passersby, and was a collaboration between Endeavors Oakland, the self-described community arm of Oakland's Good Mother Gallery, and the Bay Area Mural Program (BAMP). A GoFundMe is still up to help pay the artists involved with the project.
Painted portraits of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor also now grace the walls of downtown Oakland, alongside words of protest and empowerment. Check out some of the murals transforming Oakland below; to see them all, don your mask and take a walk through the streets and see the art in action yourself.
"George Floyd Lives Forever," by DeredWRK
Local artist DeredWRK is behind several of the murals painted in downtown Oakland this week, including this one of George Floyd.
"Painting these murals makes me feel more like an artist than I ever have before," he said. "I feel like I have a voice and a purpose. The portrait I did of George Floyd is terrible. It was rushed and the only reference I had was on my phone, but that's not important—the message is, the reminder is. What has been going on in our country since its inception is disgusting. We need serious change, and I hope my art will help remind people every day."
"Indigenous and Third World Peoples for Black Lives," by Cece Carpio and Indal Rubin
Local artist Cece Carpio is responsible for organizing and assisting with several of the new murals in downtown Oakland.
"This is how we protest. This is how we know how to give radical love for the black communities whose liberation is directly tied to ours, acknowledging that their fight paved for us to be here to fight," she writes on Instagram. "These are all work in progress, as we are in progress to dismantle white supremacy. We want to show that we're stronger together and that we are here to fight. In solidarity and through this fire, we will rise."
"The Black Womyn Is God," by Timothy B.
"The Black Womyn Is God" was painted by Oakland muralist and designer Timothy B next to a Wells Fargo ATM on 12th Street in Oakland.
"It feels good to be a Black artist from Oakland paying homage to Black people and shedding light on our beauty, our strength and spirit. My goal for coming out here was to empower my community to stay strong, plan and mobilize toward our elevation."
You can buy Timothy B.'s works on Etsy.
"Shut it Down," by Twin Walls Mural Company
Bay Area artists Elaine Chu and Marina Perez-Wong of Twin Walls Mural Company have painted many massive murals around Oakland and San Francisco. According to their Instagram, they put this one together in a matter of hours.
Downtown Oakland Mural by Hungry Ghost Productions
(Courtesy of @davidburke_studio)
Located on Broadway at Grand, this beauty by Joevic Yeban and Dorias Brannon and David Burke of Hungry Ghost Productions was painted from a photo taken by documentary photographer Kerem Yücel at a vigil for George Floyd in Minneapolis.
"Fight Power, Not People," by GirlMobb
Girl Mobb has painted several statement-making murals around Oakland and also has an Etsy shop. Follow the artist on Instagram.
"Justice for Breonna Taylor," by @KathyDoesArtStuff
On 12th Street in Oakland, this tribute to Breonna Taylor by artist @kathydoesartstuff honors Breonna Taylor's life and aims to "emphasize that Black women are especially targeted and most vulnerable to the systems of oppression in our world," the artist writes on Instagram. "Her murderers have not been punished for their crimes, so we need to keep this same energy and even elevate it for justice for Black lives, Black women, and Black queer and trans folks."
"Black Lives Matter," by Skyline High School Students
Mural by Skyline High School students in downtown Oakland.
Black Panther Party Mural Project by AeroSoul, at at Betti Ono Gallery
This mural is a collaboration piece in a series developed by AeroSoul, an Oakland community institution promoting youth advocacy through art education. AeroSoul has completed multiple murals, each detailing individual points from the Black Panther Party Ten Point Program. The mural above outlines point seven, and was painted by artists Refa One, Madow Futur, Aeos One, and MWOP. For more information on the project and to donate, visit their GoFundMe page.
The mural appears at the storefront of Betti Ono, a cultural arts venue, gallery, and store owned and led by black women. Their mission is to build power through culture. Follow them on Instagram.
"Don't Kneel on Me,' by Illuminaries
A mural with the words "don't kneel on me" in downtown Oakland, by artist group Illuminaries. Follow them on Instagram.
Murals at Studio Noir and Muse Shop, Downtown Oakland
Artists from tattoo and makeup shop Studio Noir Oakland painted the storefronts of Studio Noir and neighbor Muse Shop.
On their Instagram, Studio Noir Oakland stated, "We've been spending the last couple days getting some gorgeous murals up outside our shop where a lot of protests against police brutality have taken place. It's been so heartwarming to see so many artists outside showing solidarity."