Dan Fontes-Retrospective Statement

Always being driven by wanting to make a difference in the world my work has covered/ranged from:

  • Environmental activism (giraffes, zebras, sea turtles murals, jellyfish, alphabet animal series) (my work with Greenpeace, Sierra Club etc…), 
  • A desire to promote the humanities and showcase diversity (festival murals, Bethany, Sister Cities murals) 
  • A longstanding concern and appreciation of Oakland (Oakland Gems, JB murals), 
  • A lifelong interest in history (Tales of History, Full Steam Ahead, Pacific Pinball Museum, Playland natb, Concord History mural)
  • A specific interest in Bay Area history (Playland not at the Beach, Love not War mural)
  • An interest in promoting arts in the schools (Renaissance of Papermaking murals, Stanley Middle School, Wildwood School etc…), 
  • A desire to portray local character and light (Lake Merritt Mural, American Noah, Market and Drumm ) 
  • Celebrating the individuality and dignity of senior citizens (Salud mural-Bethany).  

I seek a sense of timelessness and resonance in the images I choose to make public.  Tired of the visual cliches and stale vocabulary of “the revolution” but aligned with the principals born in the crucible of 1960’s activism era.  I’ve chosen to continue the struggle down an unchartered path to fight blight, sameness and visual bleakness and depressing grayness of the cities within a palette of springtime brightness, color intensity and photographic beauty (Gems/JB murals/Straus Carpet murals).  

By choice I’ve leaned towards an aesthetic not frozen in decades old lockstep dreariness of either social realism or contemporary muralism.   Although I think my work is recognizable, is is perhaps not as “signature” as the art world demands of it’s chosen luminaries.  My concerns have always been with:

    -Materials chosen for longevity and professional practices (Zebra and Giraffe murals just celebrated 33+ years)

    -Accessibility of the imagery by a wide range of audiences

    -A celebration of visual detail and appreciation of it.

    -Will this make the world a better place?

Two people I should mention who have been key to my development as a mural painter are my friends and longtime mentors John Wehrle and Daniel Galvez both of whom have guided and supported in my direction-I offer my thanks.

Many of the photos included here were taken by Rob Perica at to whom I am endlessly indebted.  Thank you Rob!  

Many of these narratives were edited by Hal Ericsson who took my goofy stories and made something legible out of them.  Thank you Hal! 

-Dan Fontes