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Oakland to ‘Paint the Town’ with vibrant street murals

Oakland has formally launched its street mural program Paint the Town, which allows residents to paint murals on city streets, city officials said Tuesday.

The aim of the program is to bring people together, promote racial justice and beautify the city.

Oakland’s Department of Transportation is partnering with two art-based nonprofit groups EastSide Arts Alliance and Safe Passages to make the aims a reality.

Mayor Libby Schaaf said in a statement:

“Every time I see one of our vibrant street murals I am overwhelmed with pride. … We are dedicated to empowering each neighborhood of the Oakland community to work together to develop their own ideas and apply their own creativity to create a more beautiful Oakland together.”

Paint the Town launched in 2017 as a pilot program. Residents painted 12 murals as part of the pilot.

One was created by the Scraper Bike Team, an East Oakland group that introduces youth to cycling and had a block party as it painted its mural at 90th Avenue and Plymouth Street.

Tyrone “Champ” Stevenson, founder and chief visionary officer of the Scraper Bike Team, said in a statement:

“Paint the Town was a fun community project that brought a lot of neighbors outside. … After the mural was installed people made comments that this was needed in Deep East Oakland and they were happy to be a part of it.”

Residents who want to participate in the mural program can find the guidelines and application at https://www.oaklandca.gov/projects/paint-the-town.

Everyone, no matter what level of art experience, can take part.

No fees are required as part of the application process and money for materials may be available to residents in high-priority communities, city officials said.

Historically underserved neighborhoods will get the highest consideration for funding, according to city officials.

EastSide Arts Alliance Visual Arts Director Leslie Lopez said in a statement:

“Through cultural strategies such as this (mural program) we are engaging communities who have previously been underserved and under-resourced.”

Lopez added:

“This is an opportunity not only to connect established and emerging artists with rooted community groups and cultural hubs in Oakland, but to beautifully contribute to the work that’s already happening,”

Jonathan Brumfield, a program manager for Safe Passages said:

“Being able to create a true representation of your culture, community, and self has a profound influence on our youth and families.”

Questions about Paint the Town can be sent to paintthetown@oaklandca.gov or call (510) 238-6640.

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