It’s an exciting time for public art in Alameda! On Friday, Dec. 10, 2021, the West End Arts District threw a party to celebrate the new Webster Gateway mural. The 2,000 sq. ft. mural was painted by Korean-American artist and Oakland resident, Dave Young Kim. Funding for the mural was provided by a combination of public and private sources and a Kickstarter campaign.
Covering the entire north side of the building located at 1619 Webster St. at the corner of Pacific Ave., the intricate mural is an homage to the character and history of Alameda’s West End, featuring references to tattoo arts, naval history, and our natural surroundings. The Latin phrase on the city official seal “prosperitasmari terra que” which translates as “prosperity from land and sea” was a key element in the process. It led to reflection on the delicate balance between man and nature that has shaped Alameda’s past, and is increasingly vital to the way we shape our future.
The party kicked off at 5:30 p.m. in the parking lot of SK Auto. Dozens in attendance enjoyed a chance to meet the artist, a live DJ with hip-hop dance performances, a showing of Maurice Ramirez’s documentary of the mural’s production, and refreshments.
The next day, Saturday Dec. 11, the latest installation from Alameda’s Public Art Commission (PAC) was introduced to the public. Rosella Scapini‘s Calimar is a 12-foot tall sculpture of a stylized squid cast in bronze, that was installed last month along the Alameda Point waterfront near the WETA building and the USS Hornet Museum.
Calimar‘s tentacles work as arches and columns that provide the public with the ability to walk between the inner and outer space they create. In place of suckers, the tentacles have porthole-shaped rings, references to the Naval past of Alameda Point, which have the effect of allowing light to pass through the sculpture. It is finished with a striking green-teal patina, which, in our marine environment, will naturally oxidize, adding mint greens and coppery dots over time. Julia Robertson made a video of the design and construction process.
Ms. Scapini’s work was originally submitted as part of the PAC’s RFP in 2018. Although it was not selected as part of that program, City Staff ultimately sourced funding from the Tidelands Trust for its fabrication and installation.
The City held a ribbon-cutting ceremony which included remarks from Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft, PAC Chairperson Adam Gillitt, and a question and answer session with the artist. Then experimental performer and composer Guillermo Galindo played the sculpture as a musical instrument, using microphones, bows, mallets and other devices to make Calimar resonate and sing. Before the event ended, dozens of attendees were given squid-shaped cookies from the Crispian Bakery on Park St. The Public Art Commission meets next on Dec. 20.