‘Alice Street’ Documents Oakland’s Hidden Downtown Mural

The artists eventually created a mural that covered four large walls of a sizable parking lot. But when the paint dried and the ribbon was cut in August 2014, a new development was planned on that spot.

Artists playing instruments at Hotel Oakland.
Performers play instruments at Hotel Oakland. (Spencer Wilkinson)

“I’m excited to highlight the artists and what has happened since the documentary took place,” said film producer Spencer Wilkinson.

He says the project’s two main performers will be there for a post-screening dialogue on Nov. 16. They will be joined by drummer Kiazi Malonga, son of the late world-renowned recording artist Malonga Casquelourd and head of the Fua Dia Congo performance group, as well as musician and poet Destiny Muhammad, who appears in the film and asks the poignant question, “Is what come next? better than what’s here?”

The film ends with a note that individuals and community organizations such as the Community Coalition For Equitable Development (CCED) have pushed for and received a series of community benefit agreements that have resulted in more low-income housing, more parking and, in among others, agreements they are financially supported in painting a new mural.

Drummers gather at a celebration of the new mural on 14th Street in Oakland.
Drummers gather at a celebration of the new mural on 14th Street in Oakland. (Rudi Tcruz and Galex Tcruz)

A few blocks away from the location of the previous mural, on the Greenlining Institute side, now stands a new painting featuring some of the same artists as the previous piece, as well as the themes of housing, justice, diversity, and cultural arts.

As for the old mural, mummified by a new building? Perhaps in years or decades it will see new light. But for now only the artists’ names are visible and the website where you can get more information about the film – and the ongoing conversation about art, community and urban development.

‘Alice Street’ will be screened on Tuesday, November 16 on the New Parkway in Oakland. Trailer here, and details here.

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