Friday, July 03, 2009

Public Arting Blight into Beauty

Maxwell Park, located in the Maxwell Park neighborhood of Oakland in between Fleming and Allendale, just South of High Street, is being transformed. The park is dominated by a children's play area in the middle of a Redwood Grove. This gathering area is flanked by a public bathroom, which often attracts drug deals, and obviously prostitution at night as the ground in the early morning often has unsed condoms off the path near the tables. The bathroom walls have been often tagged and vandalized.

In the midst of what would seem hopeless, the neighbors of the hood are taking the park back, re-organizing for the past year to transform the park into a place with more light through tree removal (to chase off the trouble-making elements), better visiblity, increased acitivity opportunity for families/kids, and beautification through public art and landscaping.
The project reminds me of the beautiful mural made in the Dimond recently near 7-11 at the corner of Champion and MacArthur.

The past 3 weeks have seen a transformation of the dominant (and most tagged) wall of the park restrooms. Neighbors raised the money, found the supplies, wrote the grants and did the work to transform this blank institutional-green wall into a massive mosaic depicting the park and the purpose of that public space. Krista Keim, a neighborhood resident and mosaic-er extraordinaire helped shepherd the project. Here's a [link] to her page and past work as well as some photos that I took on a recent weekday morning while Krista and the crew finished work begun on the weekend. Kudos to the Maxwell Park Neighborhood Council and all those helping to organize and improve our life together through public art, community organizing and community work days!


Anonymous said...

The mosaic is fantastic. I love these art projects in the middle of everything. I love walking down the road by the 7-11 in the Dimond now. It used to be kind of humdrum way to go and our mural makes it exceptional.

Monte said...

i agree about that dimond mural. the girls always ask to drive that way - even to park and get out and see it. what pride (not that they'd call that) of our hood, in particular because they helped make the public art and can see what difference they've made. the maxwell park one is great. my pictures were old, as it took me a while to post them, it looks even better today.