SF Public Library celebrates black artists who changed Oakland – San Francisco Examiner | Candle Made Easy

In the wake of the 2020 killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless other acts of police violence against black people, Oakland artists took to city streets and painted murals in protest and solidarity. This expressive ground wave is now preserved in the book Painting the Streets: Oakland Uprising in the Time of Rebellion.

From August 20 to November 27, the African American Center at the San Francisco Public Library is hosting an exhibit in honor of the book’s publication. A collaboration between non-profit publisher Nomadic Press and cultural center Eastside Arts Alliance, Painting the Streets is a full-color, hardcover art book featuring nearly 100 murals created between May and October 2020, as well as essays, poetry, and reflections by local artists and activists.

The main library exhibition features reproductions of some of these murals, as well as first-hand accounts of their many inspirations and meanings. A special presentation and panel discussion on arts activism and its impact on Oakland will be held on August 28 from 1-3pm

Shawna Sherman, manager of the African American Center, said Painting the Streets and the accompanying exhibit underscore “the need to continue fighting a system of government built on black backs while promoting anti-blackness.”

“The death of George Floyd two years ago shows us how we still live in the wake of slavery and a government built on it, but we have always stood up against it,” she added.

Work on the book began when a coalition of artists and activists led by the nonprofit East Oakland Black Cultural Zone began archiving the distribution of street art. An essay by Carolyn Johnson, Mizan Alkebulan-Abakah and Randolph Belle of the Black Cultural Zone reported that 423 artworks were cataloged while 55 were removed and preserved.

JK Fowler, founder and CEO of Nomadic Press, was keen to give local artists and community leaders a new home for their work. “It’s important to archive and have in historical records moments like these and reflections from workers, cultural workers, on-site organizers and artists who were fully immersed in those moments,” he said.

Fowler added that the editor’s goal is “not just to talk about this May-October 2020 moment, but to really place it in the historical context of the movements that have been focused on freedom and liberation in this country for centuries.” , he said .

About 150 people were involved in the publication of the book, a number that has enabled exciting collaborations between members of Oakland’s writing and fine arts communities. For example, a chapter of the book is dedicated to San Francisco poet prince Tongo Eisen-Martin’s interview with Emory Douglas, a graphic artist and former secretary of culture for the Black Panther Party, about how past and present activists go about their work .

Other sections of the book include poetry by Eisen-Martin and 10 other writers including Umar Bin Hassan and Sonia Sanchez, as well as essays by historian Robin DG Kelley and Eastside Cultural Center artistic director Greg Morozumi.

Visuals abound, as Painting the Streets features locally produced art created in response to police brutality and systemic racism, including 88 murals represented through collages.

Photographers including JJ Harris, who is responsible for the book’s cover, and Rohan DaCosta capture Oakland residents on the streets and parks during the city’s year of transformation.

The African American Center exhibit concludes the summer-long Painting the Streets book tour, which visits bookstores, libraries and museums in the Bay Area to promote dialogue, remembrance and healing.

Sherman called the opportunity to showcase Oakland’s work at the center a “perfect match.” For the exhibition, she chose images produced by black artists that captured the resistance movement.

Sherman also hopes that as they walk through the exhibit, visitors will feel inspired to work against systemic racism while recognizing the achievements of those who have dedicated their lives to fighting for racial equality.

“I think an exhibition like this can shake people up and remind people of the idea that we’re still resisting white supremacy in this country,” she said.


“Painting the Streets: Oakland Riots in the Time of the Rebellion”

When: 20 Aug-Nov 27. 10am-5.30pm Monday/Thursday/Saturday 10am-8pm Tuesday/Wednesday, Friday 12pm-5.30pm Sunday closed.

Panel Discussion on Arts Activism and Its Impact on Oakland, 1-3 p.m., August 28.

Where: San Francisco Public Library, Main Branch, African American Center, 100 Larkin St., SF

Costs: Free

Contact: (415) 557-4400, sfpl.org

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