Project: Emergent Sea Turtles 2009 - 2011
Dimensions: 28' x 150' (two walls)
Medium: Acrylics on Stucco
Location: Calcot Place, near 23rd Avenue and 880 Freeway, Oakland, CA
With Caroline Stern and James Swinson and students from Girls Inc.
Caroline Stern had orchestrated the administrative groundwork for the creation of some graffiti-deterring murals in a rough part of Oakland, near 23rd Avenue, and invited me to help out. We approached Jeff Eandi, who has a huge warehouse where he stores equipment and tools related to his Eandi Metalworks Company, for input on a theme. We had created 4 or 5 mock-ups, which included giant sea shells, starfish, and other indigenous marine life. Jeff suggested sea turtles which he'd seen up close on a recent trip to Hawaii.
The warehouse walls on Calcot Place were notorious for being tagged with graffiti, twice a week and sometimes more. For years, city crews would come out regularly with a big sprayer and cover it all over. The expense was astronomical, amounting to $20,000-$30,000 annually.
The mural cost only about half that amount, and brought an end to the problem the day it went up. We've only had to go back out a couple of times since to remove tags. In seven years we've probably saved the city of Oakland $100,000 in this one specific location.
Wouldn't it be great if they could take that savings and spend it on after school arts programs, or perhaps fund more murals, for which we could hire young people and teach them the skills to create their own?
We added a second wall to the left of the original turtles a year or so later. Six months after we completed it, the Oakland Office of Community Development was shut down by Governor Jerry Brown.