Open air art museum will Oakland’s protest murals have a life beyond the
ONN – Aireon Tavarres Works To Save Oakland’s Black Lives Matter Protest Murals In Downtown
By Localish on YouTube, which reports:
In Oakland, the boarded-up shop windows have been covered with the faces of George Floyd, Tony McDade and Breonna Taylor. If you walk along Telegraph Avenue or Broadway in the city’s downtown, you are surrounded by vividly colored Black Power fists, protest slogans such as “no justice, no peace” or “power to the people” and the names of Oscar Grant and other victims of police violence immortalized in brightly colored spray paint. As in many cities around the US, dozens of murals have sprung up across Oakland amid a nationwide reckoning over systemic racism and police brutality, transforming the streets into an open-air museum.
Now, members of the local arts community are working to secure a future for the works, and perhaps even find a permanent home for them inside a museum. Tens of thousands turned out to demonstrate in downtown Oakland in the weeks after George Floyd’s killing by a Minneapolis police officer. After several windows were broken during the first nights of protests, most businesses in the area covered their windows with plywood. Overnight the boards became canvases for expressions of anger, resilience and anti-racist sentiments.“
It was very organic. At first it was a cleanup effort, then we had all of these boards painted white, like canvases, and they became an outlet for aggression,” said Aireon Tavarres, a local activist who organized cleanup and beautification efforts in Oakland’s downtown.“We’ve never had that much art go up at one singular time and about one specific subject. Tavarres continued. “The community came together for one cause: Black Lives Matter.”Now Tavarres is a part of an effort to track down the artists who’ve added to the downtown landscape and ask them what they would like to do with their work. He says that responses have varied: some want to keep their pieces, others want to auction them off, but many want to see their art preserved in a museum, gallery or community space.“It would be nice to put some of the murals in a Black-owned museum because that money can be put directly back into the Black community,” Tavarres said.
There has been speculation about the roles that the larger local arts organizations such as the Oakland Museum of California and Oakland Art Murmur will play in the future of these protest murals. Both organizations say that they are deferring to, and working with artists, business owners, and groups such as Black Cultural Zone – a grassroots organization based in East Oakland – to coordinate the transportation and storage of the pieces. These groups are currently coordinating with local businesses and the city to find out when murals will be taken down alongside reaching out to the artists behind them.
Though Oakland is filled with over 1,000 murals and a robust street art scene, the process of collecting these recent murals requires an unprecedented level of coordination and community input.“It’s not just taking down murals and moving them to the Oakland Museum. It’s preserving them
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