Project: California Quail - 2011
Dimensions: 24' x 20'
Medium:  Acrylics

Location: 108th & MacArthur Blvd., Oakland


I'd been painting with longtime mural and faux finishing artist Caroline Stern of Deco Art.  The quail was Caroline Stern’s idea.  To paint the California State bird.  At the time there was next to no public art around 108th Avenue.  A little graffiti but not imagery.  Once again, Caroline carried the difficult task of doing the administrative work and fundraising.  James Swinson, Steven Burright and I got to work on the fun painting part. 



Directly across the street from our wall is a little store called “Gift Smoke Shop”.  It’s all changed now with the restoration of the entire district by the rebuilding of the Foothill Square Mall nearby, but at the time things were grittier.  Many mornings we’d arrived and find spent gun shells on the ground.  Anyway, Gift Smoke Shop is a regular looking convenience store.  All day long we watch people park next to our mural, enter the store, for hours and often not come back out.



Strange right?  Finally one day a beautiful woman almost 7’ tall in heals parks her car, gets out with a two year old in tow, jay-walks with the child stopping traffic both ways on MacArthur and enters the store.  She doesn’t exit.  Her car sits.  For hours.  I gotta know what is going on.  I go in look around, everything’s cool.  

No sounds, no smells, no back door, just me and a middle eastern 15 year old boy in a low lawn chair behind the counter.  Drugs?  Gambling?  Sex?  Hidden basement? I bought water and left.  To this day I still have no idea what was going on there.  I’ve asked a number of people including police and not a clue.  Not my business.  

Design by and Arturo Arechiga of Youth Uprising.  

Special Thanks to Carol Wild and Haart Inc., Theresa Navarro of City of Oakland Redevelopment Agency and Council-member Reid.