Earlier this week, the Community Rejuvenation Project (CRP), a local arts nonprofit, released a trailer and crowdfunding campaign for its anticipated documentary, Alice Street.
The film recounts the genesis of a mural that has thrust public art into the forefront of its neighborhood’s gentrification debate.
Nestled at the crossroads of Oakland’s Chinatown district and the Afro-diasporic community based at the adjacent Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Performing Arts, the CRP mural aimed to capture the neighborhood’s historic intersectionality. The art, which celebrates artists and folk traditions from both cultural enclaves, has been hailed as a beacon of resilience in the face of heightening community displacement due to gentrification.
Oakland muralists Pancho Peskador and Desi Mundo were commissioned in 2010 to paint the three blighted walls surrounding a parking lot at 1401 Alice Street. The artists filmed extensive interviews with both Chinese-American and Black residents to understand their respective communities’ histories of out-group discrimination and personal experiences of cultural perseverance.
These oral histories, along with twenty-five days of time-lapse videography showing the mural’s installation and footage of the Malonga Center community meetings and performances that fostered the mural’s conception, were the nascent vision of director Spencer Wilkinson’s documentary.
But then the tangible reality of Oakland’s gentrification problem presented itself — directly in front of the Alice Street mural.
As the Express
has previously reported
, only three-months after the mural's completion, CRP leaders learned of plans to develop a 126-unit condominium complex in a privately-owned parking lot in front of the artwork. The mural, which cost $80,000 in grant money from the City of Oakland and community crowdfunding, would be entirely obscured.
The film follows the community polemic launched in response to the development and the wider dialogue surrounding housing inequity in the region. The Alice Street mural has become a chief symbol of cultural resilience in a neighborhood that is being threatened by Oakland’s displacement crisis.
is scheduled to premiere in October 2016. But the filmmakers are currently fundraising the cost of post-production in order to complete it. They aim to raise $12,000, the first $8,000 of which will be matched by the East Bay Community Foundation. Contribute to the Generosity
page here or watch the trailer below.