By Sharon Gibbons and Lauren Woodfill
The Richmond Greenway is blooming – not only with new growth of plants and trees, but with vibrant and place-based art, depicting love for this special space and inspired by the community activism nurturing this park. We are honored to collaborate with such creative artists on the Greenway, and to hear about their emerging projects:
My name is Rebeca Garcia-Gonzalez and the title of my Unity Park mural is “Richmond Dances and Grows.” I am a Richmond working artist, who has lived in Richmond for 12 years. In my Unity Park mural, I was assisted by Richmond artists Regina Gilligan and Lauren Ari. The mural shows people of all ages, cultures and socioeconomic levels working together to create a Greenway garden, harvest its products and enjoy them in a community celebration.
But just showing something is not enough, it must be engaging. Since the 80 x 6′ mural is much longer than tall, I imagined people would “read” it from left to right and decided to show a process. That process is the greening of the Richmond Greenway which began decades ago with the activism of Miss Lillie Mae Jones. She appears in the mural, joining the community celebration at the end and getting out of her wheelchair. There is also a neighbor who came on a Saturday to pose, Miss Linda Oden. And Sherman Dean, a man who has planted trees up and down the Greenway with two different organizations. I am thrilled that gardens in the mural are a depiction of the gardens that will dot Unity Park, and that the youth shown planting trees and seedlings is exactly what has happened through organizations such as Urban Tilth, The Watershed Project and Groundwork Richmond.
Look for Rebeca’s mural at Unity Park, on Ohio and 16th Street
Hello my name is Richard Muro Salazar and I am a professional artist from Richmond, California. I’ve been on the Richmond Greenway for over 8 years now, first beginning with the mural projects in collaboration with Community Rejuvenation Project where we created five murals in the span of three months.
The name of my sculpture is “Amass Joy” A mass meaning a gathering of people and, of course, joy, A gathering of joy. This is an interactive piece where the viewer will be able to feel and experience a redwood giant. It is a 15′ foot redwood sculpture that is going to be carved out with designs and give the illusion of dissection. My idea for the sculpture came from just seeing how we treat trees as insignificant when in reality they’re a crucial part of our existence. This 50 year old redwood was cut down because the owner of the property couldn’t get signal for his satellite TV. My heart aches because this redwood did not deserve that, I feel this is my way of serving some justice to this tree. I want the viewer to leave with a greater sense of perspective and respect for trees. To truly feel the Beauty and mass this living organism has to offer. Trees don’t need us to survive, but we need them.
Find Richard’s sculpture near the entrance of Unity Park at 16th and the Greenway.
Hello my name is Seren Moran and I’m a Bay Area native, having spent most of my childhood growing up in Richmond. I developed my concept for a mural on the Greenway through brainstorming representations of diversity and community through less conventional imagery, finalizing on depicting items to represent the various people and cultures in the area, including local businesses and historical references. It felt like a missed opportunity to not add an element of community outreach and allow people who live and work in the area to contribute their ideas, so I have interacted with countless people via email and passersby to incorporate a diverse range of Richmond experiences.
Since my initial proposal, my concept has grown into something far more collage-like, allowing the items to overlap and interact with an abstract sense of space and proportion. I was very pleased with the enthusiasm and support provided by the City of Richmond’s Arts and Culture Committee, and specifically the suggestions provided by Michele Seville. She encouraged me to allow some of my abstract passion to have its voice in the mural and to have fun with the colors and imagery, which makes a more dynamic piece. The ultimate vision is for my mural to read a bit like an I SPY book, with layers upon layers of metaphors and representations allowing viewers to experience the mural in different ways time and time again as they spot and discover more nuances.
Look for Seren’s mural at Unity Park on 16th and the Greenway.
Many thanks to these wonderful artists who join decades of dedicated volunteers, activists and community leaders in nurturing the soul and soil of the Richmond Greenway. Look to their projects to be completed soon.