Project: Love Not War - 2016
Dimensions: Approximately 20' x 20'
Medium: Acrylics on wood
Location: Near Parker and Telegraph, Berkeley
I found out about the Bay Area Mural Festival a few months back when I got an email from Sarah Siskin, the event director, asking if I’d like to be involved. Offhand, it sounded like a great idea and quickly agreed. Parallel to this, I’ve been a part of putting together an Exposition in Alameda with the Pacific Pinball Museum AND putting together a retrospective show of my murals at Warehouse 416 in Oakland!
Although challenging, I felt it was important to participate in all three. I spoke with Stuart Baker at the Telegraph Business Improvement District about what would be a good fit. He mentioned how people travel from all over the world to see Berkeley and when they get here there isn’t a lot of the old Berkeley left to see.
Since I grew up in the Eastbay I still have strong memories of walking down Telegraph Avenue and seeing all the hippies and goings on. Later in the 1990’s, I’d been caught in two different riots and had this sense of the resistance movement that needed to be reflected in a genuine way.
We went back and forth quite a bit on what to depict in a mural for Telegraph. I was on the side of wanting to keep the subject matter gritty and real with TBID wanting something more “flower power”. At their suggestion, we settled on an image taken from a protest march that included the timeless photo of a woman holding the “Love not War” sign.
Caroline Stern helped with the four day project and Sarah Lee helped assemble the image and paint most of the utility boxes. Hal Erickson had given me a book that included some beautiful framings that started each chapter of a children's book from the early 1900’s; he came out to lend a hand in the painting part too.
Since there was a huge utility box in front of the mural it was easier to try to incorporate it into the public art piece and give a little feel for being IN the crowd that was protesting the Vietnam War. I commend TBID and Stuart Baker for their courage to choose something more edgy and real.
When you walk around Telegraph Avenue now there are very few reminders of the free speech movement, the Vietnam war years, People's Park or the hippie days and I'm happy to say the mural has become a site where folks take a lot of selfies. While I was painting the mural, the public response was very supportive and enthusiastic. The merchants nearby were super supportive as well.