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Oaklandish Retrospective Poster Campaign

eleven 24″ x 36″ black and white designs of the patron saints and sinners of Oakland, wheat-pasted onto negative urban spaces such as underpasses and vacant buildings in 2000. These posters were part of Oaklandish’s origins as a guerrilla street art campaign.

Julia Morgan “East Bay Charm”
A graduate of Oakland High School, Julia Morgan was the first woman ever admitted to the Ecole des Beaux Arts School of Architecture in Paris. After returning to California and working out of her parents’ home in Oakland, she opened an architectural firm in San Francisco that eventually designed and built over 700 buildings throughout the Bay Area. Her designs fused together diverse elements from a wide variety of eras, styles, and materials – she was never pigeonholed by any particular type of construction. Her works include homes, churches, schools, YWCA’s, and most notably The Hearst Castle in San Simeon, CA. Sharing the poster with Julia are William Penn Mott Jr. – creator of Children’s Fairyland, Victor J. Bergeron – proprietor of Trader Vic’s, and Bernard Maybeck – architect.

Bruce Lee / Michael Francisco “Oakland Artistry”
Bruce Lee brought martial arts to new heights of worldwide popularity with charismatic performances in a series of successful movies. Before his career in Hollywood began though, he owned and operated a small kung-fu studio in Downtown Oakland. Lee brought together different styles of martial arts and opened his classes to western students, alarming the Bay Area’s Chinese community. Lee was issued a now famous challenge and ultimatum by a representative, Wong Jak Man, who demanded that Lee stop teaching martial arts to Caucasians or close the school down. Lee settled the dispute in less than a minute, securing his right to teach whomever he pleased. As a result of this duel, Lee became committed to developing Jeet Kune Do, a.k.a. the Way of the Intercepting Fist – a form of fighting not bound by styles. The other half of this poster features Michael Francisco, the aerosol artist known as ‘Dream’ of the legendary TDK crew. A true “King” of graffiti, Dream was a relentless writer who was a pioneer in bringing political content to his work. He was senselessly shot and killed during a robbery in 2000.

Little Bobby Hutton “For The People”
Little Bobby Hutton was the first of many Black Panther Party members to be killed in confrontations with police. It was April 6th, 1968 and, as the story goes, Bobby Hutton and Eldridge Cleaver were trapped in a West Oakland house after trading gunfire with police. Eventually, the police set fire to the house, forcing the two to put down their guns and surrender. When Bobby came out of the house unarmed he was caught in a barrage of gunfire. He was seventeen years old. Also pictured from the Black Panther Party: Huey Newton, Elaine Brown, and the BPP Free Breakfast Program.

 

Jim Otto “Original Spirit”
Jim Otto, #00, was on the very first Oakland Raiders team and played there as center for his entire career of sixteen seasons, and continued on the Raiders professional staff for years afterwards. With his physical intensity and extreme self-sacrifice, he helped the Raiders earn their reputation as one of the toughest franchises in the league. Otto, a continual favorite of both Al Davis and John Madden, is a repeat pro-bowler and hall of famer who is widely recognized as the best center to ever play the game. Also pictured from the world of sports: Rick Barry, Vida Blue, Gina ‘Boom Boom’ Guidi, Bill Russell, Lake Merrit Rowing Club, Oakland Women’s Tennis Club 1905, Waku All Girls Chinese Basketball Team 1925, and Oakland High School Football 1885.

Sonny Barger “Land of the Free”
Sonny Barger was the founder and leader of the Oakland chapter of the Hell’s Angels Motor Cycle Club (HAMC) beginning in the early sixties. The Oakland Angels helped define the outlaw biker image by continuously stealing national headlines with their outrageous behavior and style. In the late 1970’s, the FBI brought federal racketeering charges against the Angels, threatening to disband the club as a criminal organization. Under the leadership of “the Chief,” the Hell’s Angels banded together and were the first defendants ever to beat the FBI on such charges. Also pictured from the Oakland Hell’s Angels: Johnny Angel, Cisco, Zorro, Terry the Tramp, and Deacon.

 

Oakland Proletariat
This is the only poster that does not feature a specific historical personality. The image is of an anonymous woman steel worker on the job at the Kaiser Shipyards during World War II. The wartime propaganda film Rosie The Riveter was based on her image, and filmed in Oakland. She is meant to represent the labor forces whose skills and hard work are behind the success of major industry in the East Bay, from the shipyards to the railways. The accompanying smaller pictures are of local political figures who were committed to the ongoing struggle for Labor Rights and Social Justice. They are: C.L. Dellums, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, Mayor Lionel Wilson and Cesar Chavez of the United Farm Workers Organization, and Congressman Ron Dellums.

Isadora Duncan “Isadora freed the dance…”
Isadora Duncan is credited as the inspiration behind modern dance. Her innovations include being the first American dancer to develop and label a concept of natural breathing, which she identified with the ebb and flow of ocean waves. Duncan was the first American dancer to define movement based on natural and spiritual laws rather than on formal considerations of geometric space. She was the first to rigorously compare dance to the other arts, defending it as a primary art form worthy of “high art” status. Duncan was also the first American dancer to develop a philosophy of the dance. She de-emphasized scenery and costumes in favor of a simple stage setting and simple costumes. By doing this, Duncan suggested that watching a dancer dance was enough. Sharing this poster are some of Isadora’s contemporaries: Ina Coolbridth – California’s first poet laureate and Oakland’s first public librarian, Gertrude Stein – author, and Jack London – who apparently wrote some well-known books.

Larry Graham “Oakland Stroke”
Larry Graham is widely recognized as the originator of the ‘slap-funk’ bass-playing style that helped to define the genre of funk music. Sly Stone scouted him out of Bay Area clubs at an early age and they worked together over the next few years, recording a number of classic songs and albums as well as giving many legendary performances at the Fillmore during the summer of love and then later at Woodstock. Graham went on to create Graham Central Station, which produced a number of hits on Warner Brothers records. He now works closely recording and touring with Prince. Also pictured: Todd “Too Short” Shaw, The Pointer Sisters, and Tower of Power.

 

Clint Eastwood “Leading Men”
The now legendary actor and director Clint Eastwood began his theatrical career in a student production at Oakland Technical High School. Clint’s mother was a Fats Waller fan and passed on a love of music to her son. At age 15, Eastwood could play the piano well enough to perform at the Omar Club on Broadway. As a teenager he played for free meals. Besides many notable accomplishments in entertainment and politics, Eastwood has also made Oakland the setting for some of his popular films, including most recently True Crime, in which he directed himself in a performance as a Tribune reporter. Sharing this poster are other celebrated film makers: Russ Myer, Danny Glover, and Tom Hanks.

 

Fong Joe Guey “Dragon Wings”
The aviating pioneer Fong Joe Guey was a contemporary of the Wright Brothers and regularly communicated with them, trading discoveries about flight. On September 21, 1909, he launched a 20-minute flight from Piedmont Heights. Eventually he traveled to China and built the country’s first airplane. His true story was later fictionalized in the children’s novel Dragonwings by Laurence Yep. Also from Chinatown: Fresh Produce Peddler c1890 and Chew Hing Produce Truck c1915, Shuck Yee – inventor of the Fortune Cookie Machine, and March Fong Eu – five-term California Secretary of State.

 

Calvin Simmons “there there”
Calvin Simmons was the music director of the Oakland Symphony and a frequent guest conductor with some of the nation’s major opera companies and orchestras. Gregarious, bright, and innately musical, Conductor Calvin Simmons (1950-1982) lived for music. At the age of nine, he entered the Bay Area’s musical scene and began his dream of becoming a world-class musician. “Keep all letters…someone (may) decide to write my biography,” the 19-year-old Calvin advised his music teacher, Louise McTernan, so sure was he of realizing his dream. Oakland was heartbroken upon news of his untimely death in a boating accident at the age of 32. Also from the arts: Howard Sidney Coe – playwright, Ishmael Reed – author, and Clyfford Still – abstract expressionist.


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