West End Arts District (WEAD) and West Alameda Business Association (WABA) hosted a party in the Healing Garden on Wednesday, July 26, to celebrate the success of the “Healing Garden Revamp.” Several dozen members of the community came to see the artwork, meet the artists, and enjoy food provided by Calafia Taqueria.
Since its opening in 2020, the Healing Garden has been lovingly maintained by West Alameda Business Association, but at the start of this year, it was starting to show the effects of time and weather. WABA and WEAD came together to launch a campaign to fund the revamp, and the call was answered by a generous donation from Sandip Jariwala at Hawthorne Suites, matched by more than 40 individual donors from the local community.
The campaign funded work to restore the stage and furniture in the lot, but the majority of the effort was focused on the creation of a new art wall to exhibit the 2023 Healing Garden Arts Series. The artwork in the Healing Garden has always been central to its story. The space opened in 2020 when the country was reeling from the death of George Floyd, and the original murals were a volunteer effort—local businesses offered up plywood as it came down from their storefronts in the wake of the riots, and artists and activists were keen to share positive messages of support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
In 2021, West End Arts District put out the call for the first Healing Garden Art Series, commissioning 10 4-by-8-foot murals from local BIPOC and LGBTQ+ artists.
The 2023 Art Series called for artists to respond to the theme “Difference is the essence of humanity,” a quote from Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume. Eight selected artists were selected and are listed below in order of their placement in the exhibit.
- Todd Hallenbeck’s piece “Shoreline Dreams” is inspired by the fishermen and women that come to the rock walls and jetties of Alameda seeking communion with the Bay and connection with one another.
- Heidi Guibord, art teacher at Island High School, coordinated a collaboration on a work designed by student artist Alexa Navidad. The piece, entitled “you,” shows how each of us struggles to define our identity within the shared framework of the human skeleton.
- Ginny Parson’s detailed and highly textured work is called “Tree of Differences.”
- Mila Moldenhawer (aka Dadadoodles) creates work characterized by bold, brightly tinted, highly saturated color schemes achieved through acrylic and aerosol paints. His mural for the Healing Garden is entitled “Sun In Motion.”
- Fernando Santos of Beast Oakland created “Torn,” depicting how his life is divided between his family origins in Mexico and his current home in Oakland.
- Craig Wesley’s abbreviated Periodic Table of Elements contrasts the biological and chemical similarities of all peoples against our rich cultural differences.
- Ivy Wu created “We are the Community,” with three women of different ethnicities looking out over the view of Lake Merritt.
- Joanna Ruckman’s “Culture Keepers: Hālau Makana” illuminates a matrilineage of dancers including Lillian Cid, Lani Cid-Iulio, and Jade Makana Iulio, who run the Hālau Makana Polynesian Cultural Arts Center in Alameda.
WEAD and WABA are extremely grateful to the design team from Both Sides of The Door for their work in rebuilding the structure for the art wall. The new wall is built to withstand the elements and hopefully many of you will have a chance to visit the Healing Garden and admire the work of these talented artists.
WEAD is currently seeking donations for their next ambitious public artwork. The Taxiway Mural Project will envelop the new Radium Runway site on the Taxiway at Alameda Point. San Francisco artists Twin Walls Mural Company created the design which includes native birds swooping around walls of the space and a massive wave which covers the concrete floor, creating a 360-degree immersive experience for visitors to the Taxiway. To find out more or to donate please visit the West End Arts District website.
Tara Pilbrow is West End Arts District’s Executive Director.