Oakland's Art Community Works To Preserve Protest Murals

Holly Quan
June 16, 2020 - 9:28 am

    Oakland's art community is racing to preserve dozens of pieces of protest art
    Holly Quan/KCBS Radio

    Time is ticking on dozens of colorful protest murals that adorn the plywood covering up windows in downtown Oakland.

    The art community is now sending out surveys to business owners this week to try and catalog the artwork, the first step towards preserving the murals before they end up in the trash.

    "We’ve got a little window of time but not that big a window of time, only because some of the barricades are coming down," said Randolph Belle, spokesman for Black Cultural Zone, one of several groups working to preserve the art.

    The powerful murals started appearing on their own, loosely coordinated and some not even signed. 

    Oakland's art community is rushing to preserve dozens of pieces of protest art
    Holly Quan/KCBS Radio

    "To show the world really and truly what it is, why we protest, and the art behind it and the message behind it and the people behind it," said Pancho Kachingwe who owns the Hatch, a bar on 15th St. that is a popular hangout spot for artists. 

    He says a lot of the paint and supplies were donated by people trying to change the narrative of Oakland as a city devastated by rioting and looting. 

    Oakland's art community is rushing to preserve dozens of pieces of protest art. Maxwell Shaver is seen here creating one of those murals.
    Holly Quan/KCBS Radio

    The Oakland Museum of California’s experts are helping with the historic preservation. 

    "The murals are really part of a movement and they were created to help inspire protests and conversation," said the museum’s Executive Director Lori Fogarty. "And I think what we want to ensure is that yes, they could be artifacts of this moment to really tell a history, but they could also be a very important platform for dialogue."

    The challenge is preserving the energy and inspiration of the grassroots installation.

    "What you sense when you’re there downtown and you’re surrounded by these murals is, it’s more than any individual artwork," Fogarty said. "It’s the creation of this space that was really about revolution and protest."