Bye bye Oaksterdam University sign… hello Oaksterdam mural

10 Mar

UPDATE: The mural artist sent me some incredible close up photos which I’ve added to the end of this post.

Last month, V Smoothe wrote a really interesting blog post about the Oaksterdam University sign and the Planning Commission process to choose a mural to replace it. I highly recommend reading the entire post, as it asks the important question – what criteria should be used to select public art?

She also discusses placemaking and how the sign really marked the neighborhood and people visiting got excited about it. So it’s important for the new mural to serve the same function. The Planning Commission had initially approved a really bland mural of Lake Merritt for the wall but ultimately accepted this proposal as well and left it up to Oaksterdam to decide:

I agree with V that the mural proposal is OK, but it doesn’t reflect Oaksterdam specifically. It’s more of a general Oakland mural. Luckily, the Planning Commission directed Oaksterdam to work with staff to refine the concepts and they clear did. On Tuesday, the mural work started and the old Oaksterdam University sign was covered:

It’s a bit difficult to see from the photos at this size, but click through to the larger photos and you can see the outlines of a very Oaksterdam/Uptown focused mural:

And yesterday, I was excited to see what it looked like with some color added:

I love the bold colors and that the mural includes a downtown street lamp. I love those lamps and think of them as a feature that defines downtown as a place.

I can hardly wait to see the progress of the mural and what it looks like when it’s done. It will be a huge improvement and hopefully an attraction for Oakland. Already, people are stopping to look at it and take photos.

Sadly, I will have to wait as I’ll be taking the train to Sacramento today. If anyone happens to be at Broadway and 17th, if you could email me a photo (oaklandbecks at gmail dot com) I’ll post the photo here and credit you. I’d love to have photos from today and tomorrow (I’ll be back after that to continue recording the progress).

UPDATE (3-10 at 4:10pm): Adams Point resident Sarah Edwards emailed the photo below taken this morning which shows a bit more progress. I’d still love to see more photos if anyone’s able to take them.

UPDATE (3-11 at 9:35am): Here are a couple more photos from blog readers and below that some amazing close up photos from the mural artist.

These two are from Ken from New Oaktown blog, taken yesterday and today:


Here’s one from today from Marla Wilson:

And here are the many photos from the mural artists, R.B. Morris III & Munir Munir. Thanks so much to them and to everyone who has sent in photos! And check back in a couple days, as there will be more photos coming.

8 Responses to “Bye bye Oaksterdam University sign… hello Oaksterdam mural”

  1. V Smoothe March 10, 2011 at 7:10 am #

    It looks great from what I can see. I can’t wait to see the whole thing!

    I’ve been out of town for the past few days, and I have been keeping a tally of what people say about Oakland (cause I am just that much of a nerd). I have had over 40 people make some comment or another about our fair city when I say where I’m from. 7 said something about how much they love San Francisco. 11 talked about how backwards the City of Oakland is when it comes to technology. And a whopping 23 people have reacted with something along the lines of “Oaksterdam! That’s so cool!”

    • Hometown grrl March 10, 2011 at 9:01 am #

      I have not seen the mural. I most likely will not like it. I can only hope this mural is better than the one on the Luka’s parking lot. I think what most annoys me is the realization that site will remain a parking lot for the foreseeable future.

      • newoaktown March 10, 2011 at 12:11 pm #

        Welcome to Hard Times.

  2. Naomi Schiff March 10, 2011 at 8:09 pm #

    That parking lot has been a parking lot for at least 32 years that I’m aware of, although a one-story-high diner stood on part of it in the early 1980s, on the outer corner Broadway/17th, much better than nothing. I’m expecting the mural will be visible for quite a while. Maybe we could get the parking co. to at least do something fanciful with the little kiosk there–paint it up to match the colors in the mural or something?

    • Ken 0 March 11, 2011 at 10:52 am #

      I like the crepe shack at 2nd and Howard in SF, maybe we can invite them over:

      • Ken 0 March 11, 2011 at 10:54 am #

        oh, and in downtown portland (pearl district) their parking lots are filled with permanent food trucks and shacks. quite nice, more of that thailand side of the road food stand we miss…

        oakland needs tuk-tuks!

  3. Ken 0 March 11, 2011 at 10:53 am #

    oakland’s largest paint by numbers mural :p

    i know, i know, this is how it’s done when you’re not spraying…

  4. Rick July 16, 2011 at 9:08 pm #

    Always good to see another well designed and implemented mural enhance a community. Thanks for the info!

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