CCA Students Give Oakland Landmark a Facelift with Murals

Community Arts student Camille Hoffman painted this mural that depicts welcoming, diversity, history, and Temescal CreekView slideshow 

CCA students Camille Hoffman (Community Arts) and Vanessa Ayala (Animation) received an enthusiastic reception from City of Oakland residents and business owners, as well as officials from PG&E (Pacific Gas and Electric Company), for four new murals that have brightened the staid facade of the substation in the Temescal and Telegraph Avenue Business District.

With bold colors and lively subjects, the murals celebrate the culture of the neighborhood, which is growing and revitalizing. Hoffman and Ayala each painted two murals on large-scale wood panels that are now affixed to the PG&E building, which is located at Shattuck Avenue and 52nd Street. They are the first in a series of 49 panels planned for the landmark building's two-block span of exterior, as part of the Temescal Mural Project.

The murals convey a sense of welcoming, depicting images that focus on the diversity and history of the Temescal area. In one of her works Ayala juxtaposes figures of Native Americans surrounded by open land with a steam locomotive and what appears to be an early municipal building, creating a visual past-to-present narrative.

In one of Hoffman's murals, four figures—representing African, Asian, Hispanic, and European descent—stand with their hands interlocked. It is an homage to noted muralist William Walker's All of Mankind, a high-profile mural painted during the 1970s on a church in Chicago's Cabrini Green housing project. The building is currently under threat of demolition due to the ongoing redevelopment of the area (see related links below).

Hoffman and Ayala created the murals as part of CCA Community Arts faculty member and artist Ray Patlan's mural class. As his students continue to design and paint the additional panels, he will oversee the project to completion.

The Temescal Mural Project is a collaborative effort among CCA's Center for Art and Public Life, the Temescal Telegraph Business Improvement District (Temescal Telegraph BID), and PG&E. The BID approached the Center for Art and Public Life in 2005 with the idea to beautify a building that stands at the gateway to the fast-developing neighborhood. It's location is prominently visible from Highway 24.

The project endured a three-year bureaucratic approval process alone, but according to the organizers the successful outcome has inspired PG&E to pursue similar community art projects in other California locations.

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