A Public Art Commotion!
Commotion West Berkeley
Two new murals and a live free music project have been sponsored by the community organization Commotion West Berkeley. Commotion WB is an association of local enthusiasts who want to see things happen in West Berkeley and pool their resources to get things started. They support projects that foster community, pride of place, buzz, excitement, fun, quirkiness, and design.
After a year or so of crowdfunding, they put out a request for proposals this past July. Originally planning to support just one proposal they ended up funding three separate community engagement projects.
The first grant went to: Songs While You Wait by Anais Azul
“Songs While You Wait” was and is a pop-up performance series in front of West Berkeley pandemic lines featuring Bay Area emerging musicians of color. In August the series featured independent artists Taifa Nia, and Yiann. Two upcoming performances will feature Mazin Jamal, and Yaadi Erica.
This project affirms the importance of art during challenging, physically-distant times. The artists wear masks and social distance from the line. All four performances were scheduled for August, but two were postponed due to smoke from California's wildfires.
This pop-up performance project will be made everlasting through the recording of video and a live compilation album featuring 2 songs from each artist recorded at the lines. The album will be available on all streaming platforms as “Songs While You Wait” later this year. To stay in the loop, follow @SongsWhileYouWait on Instagram and Facebook.
The next two grants went to mural projects. The first one is entitled, “Welcome To West Berkeley”, by artist Nigel Sussman. Located on the SHOH Gallery exterior west-facing wall on Gilman street. Drivers entering Berkeley from I-80 onto Gilman Street will see this mural before they cross the railroad tracks. The mural which was recently completed includes West Berkeley iconography such as the sawtooth building, wine, beer, soccer, skateboards, and recycling.
The second mural is called “Teach Youth The Truth”, by Shawn Gibson, Irene Takahashi-Coker, Cristian Munoz, and Pancho Pescador.
Located on the south wall of the Metro Lighting building on San Pablo Ave, it faces Oil Changers.
Seven photo-realiastic faces of educators and civil rights activists fan left to right. Mostly people of color, those depicted are folks the artists believe people need to know about, but who might not be taught in history classes. The mural is intended to promote independent reading. Included (left to right) are:
Yuri Kochiyama, American Civil Rights activist, who lived in Berkeley at the end of her life;
Dennis Banks, Co-Founder of the American Indian movement;
Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of The United States;
Juana Alicia, West Berkeley resident, Professor at BCC and Standord, with many works across Berkeley, the Bay Area, and internationally;
Beatriz Levya-Cutler, Executive Director of West Berkeley’s BAHIA school, and Berkeley School Board director;
KRS-One, aka Teacha, internationally known politically and socially conscious rapper;
Sylvia Mendez, school desegregationist and activist for whom a BUSD elementary school is named.
Please learn more about these important individuals and visit the south side of Metro Lighting In the Oil Changers parking area to see the mural up close. (2240 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, CA)
Commotion West Berkeley exists to foster community engagement. Become a monthly donor today! To learn more or to get on the jury for the next grant cycle visit CommotionWB.org.