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El Cerrito Calls for Artists to Transform Its Utility Boxes

The City of El Cerrito’s Arts & Culture Commission is seeking individual artists, teams of artists or community groups to apply for its “2024 Utility Box Public Art Program.” The project is a beautification initiative designed to add to the vibrancy of the San Pablo Avenue corridor by having community artists transform unsightly utility boxes into attractive works of art, according to the City.

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An artist stands by their work that transformed the utility box from drab to fab. Photo courtesy of the City of El Cerrito.
An artist stands by their work that transformed the utility box from drab to fab. Photo courtesy of the City of El Cerrito.

By Kathy Chouteau

The Richmond Standard

Do you have an idea for beautifying urban public spaces with your art? If so, this initiative might be perfect for you.

The City of El Cerrito’s Arts & Culture Commission is seeking individual artists, teams of artists or community groups to apply for its “2024 Utility Box Public Art Program.” The project is a beautification initiative designed to add to the vibrancy of the San Pablo Avenue corridor by having community artists transform unsightly utility boxes into attractive works of art, according to the City.

This program’s theme is “Artwork that Celebrates El Cerrito’s Natural Beauty and Environment,” and any artist/team/community group residing in Contra Costa County can apply. The boxes, including one main utility box and a smaller traffic signal box adjacent to each other, are located at Ashbury and Fairmount Avenues, next to Harding Elementary School in El Cerrito.

A $2,500 stipend is offered for each utility box completed and the application is due Friday, June 14, at 4 p.m. Work on the boxes begins Aug. 5, with work to be completed by Sept. 6.

To date, eight utility boxes have been painted by local artists as part of the initiative throughout 2021 to 2023. Artists including Adaleyd DeLeon, Kristen Kong, Shanna Strauss, Martial Yapo, Jesse White and Ricardo Cerezo have been selected by the city to beautify utility boxes with their art since the program’s inception.

Questions? Contact Will Provost at 510-215-4318 or wprovost@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us. Applications can be submitted online https://el-cerrito.org/1522/Utility-Box-Public-Art-Program

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Art

Mario Van Peebles’ ‘Outlaw Posse’ Screened at Oakland’s Grand Lake Theatre

The Oakland International Film Festival hosted a screening of “Outlaw Posse” at the Grand Lake Theatre on Monday. Special guests included director/actor Mario Van Peebles and his co-star, Oakland native Scytorya Rhodes. The film is Peebles’ second western, the first being ‘Posse,’ 13 years ago.

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Film director Mario Van Peebles, who also stars in “Outlaw Posse,” appeared at a press conference held at RBA Creative on MacArthur Boulevard hosted by the Oakland International Film Festival. Photo By Carla Thomas.
Film director Mario Van Peebles, who also stars in “Outlaw Posse,” appeared at a press conference held at RBA Creative on MacArthur Boulevard hosted by the Oakland International Film Festival. Photo By Carla Thomas.

By Carla Thomas

The Oakland International Film Festival hosted a screening of “Outlaw Posse” at the Grand Lake Theatre on Monday. Special guests included director/actor Mario Van Peebles and his co-star, Oakland native Scytorya Rhodes. The film is Peebles’ second western, the first being ‘Posse,’ 13 years ago. Filmmaker Van Peebles shared his passion for independent artistry and producing projects with his son, Mandela, who also starred in the film, along with Whoopi Goldberg and Cedric the Entertainer. Next week, The Post will publish an in-depth interview featuring Peebles’ reflections on his work, future projects, and continuing his father’s legacy and Rhodes on her grandfather, a real-life cowboy.

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Art

Marin County: A Snapshot of California’s Black History Is on Display

The Marin County Office of Education, located at 1111 Las Gallinas Ave in San Rafael, will host the extraordinary exhibit, “The Legacy of Marin City: A California Black History Story (1942-1960),” from Feb. 1 to May 31, 2024. The interactive, historical, and immersive exhibit featuring memorabilia from Black shipyard workers who migrated from the South to the West Coast to work at the Marinship shipyard will provide an enriching experience for students and school staff. Community organizations will also be invited to tour the exhibit.

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Early photo of Marin City in the exhibit showing the first department store, barber shop, and liquor store. (Photo by Godfrey Lee)
Early photo of Marin City in the exhibit showing the first department store, barber shop, and liquor store. (Photo by Godfrey Lee)

By Post Staff

The Marin County Office of Education, located at 1111 Las Gallinas Ave in San Rafael, will host the extraordinary exhibit, “The Legacy of Marin City: A California Black History Story (1942-1960),” from Feb. 1 to May 31, 2024.

The interactive, historical, and immersive exhibit featuring memorabilia from Black shipyard workers who migrated from the South to the West Coast to work at the Marinship shipyard will provide an enriching experience for students and school staff.  Community organizations will also be invited to tour the exhibit.

All will have the opportunity to visit and be guided by its curator Felecia Gaston.

The exhibit will include photographs, articles and artifacts about the Black experience in Marin City from 1942 to 1960 from the Felecia Gaston Collection, the Anne T. Kent California Room Collection, The Ruth Marion and Pirkle Jones Collection, The Bancroft Library, and the Daniel Ruark Collection.

It also features contemporary original artwork by Chuck D of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group Public Enemy, clay sculptures by San Francisco-based artist Kaytea Petro, and art pieces made by Marin City youth in collaboration with Lynn Sondag, Associate Professor of Art at Dominican University of California.

The exhibit explores how Marin City residents endured housing inequities over the years and captures the history of plans to remove Black residents from the area after World War II. Throughout, it embodies the spirit of survival and endurance that emboldened the people who made Marin City home.

Felecia Gaston is the author of the commemorative book, ‘A Brand New Start…This is Home: The Story of World War II Marinship and the Legacy of Marin City.’ Thanks to the generous contribution of benefactors, a set of Felecia’s book will be placed in every public elementary, middle, and high school library in Marin.

In addition, educators and librarians at each school will have the opportunity to engage with Felecia in a review of best practices for utilizing the valuable primary sources within the book.

“Our goal is to provide students with the opportunity to learn from these significant and historical contributions to Marin County, California, and the United States,” said John Carroll, Marin County Superintendent of Schools.

“By engaging with Felecia’s book and then visiting the exhibit, students will be able to further connect their knowledge and gain a deeper understanding of this significant historical period,” Carroll continued.

Felecia Gaston adds, “The Marin County Office of Education’s decision to bring the Marin City Historical Traveling Exhibit and publication, ‘A Brand New Start…This is Home’ to young students is intentional and plays a substantial role in the educational world. It is imperative that our community knows the contributions of Marin City Black residents to Marin County. Our youth are best placed to lead this transformation.”

The Marin County Office of Education will host an Open House Reception of the exhibit’s debut on Feb. 1 from 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.. All school staff, educators, librarians, and community members are encouraged to attend to preview the exhibit and connect with Felecia Gaston. To contact Gaston, email MarinCityLegacy@marinschools.org

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Activism

Alternative Outcome to Slayings by Police Explored in One-Man Play

BLACK MEN EVERYWHERE! is the explosive new one man play written, directed, and performed by Jinho “Piper” Ferreira. Set against the backdrop of a presidential election, the play explores how political and cultural leaders wield the myth of the dangerous Black man to manipulate the masses for personal gain. Piper penned the follow-up to his ground-breaking solo play, “Cops and Robbers,” after an impromptu cross-country Black history tour. 

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BLACK MEN EVERYWHERE! is the explosive new one man play written, directed, and performed by Jinho “Piper” Ferreira.
BLACK MEN EVERYWHERE! is the explosive new one man play written, directed, and performed by Jinho “Piper” Ferreira.

Special to The Post

What would happen if police officers who have gotten off for killing unarmed Black people started turning up dead?

BLACK MEN EVERYWHERE! is the explosive new one man play written, directed, and performed by Jinho “Piper” Ferreira. Set against the backdrop of a presidential election, the play explores how political and cultural leaders wield the myth of the dangerous Black man to manipulate the masses for personal gain.

Piper penned the follow-up to his ground-breaking solo play, “Cops and Robbers,” after an impromptu cross-country Black history tour.

“My wife and I had been talking about it for years,” Ferreira said. They had taken their three children to Brazil several times and West Africa but had yet to explore their history as Black people in this country. “It was Juneteenth last year and I realized we had a few weeks to make it happen, so we just jumped in the car and left” Piper said.

Three weeks later the family had seen everything from the African American Museum of History and Culture in Wash., D.C., to the phenomenally preserved Whitney Plantation in Louisiana. They’d stood outside of the balcony of the Lorraine Hotel where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn., walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., and paid their respects at the Africa Town cemetery – where the passengers of the Clotilda (the last known U.S. slave ship to smuggle captured Africans into this country) were buried near Mobile, Ala.

“We had the kids keep a journal of the trip and my wife and I took notes, but once we got back home, I knew I had to make the pen move,” he said.

Ferreira plays 21 characters in the 60-minute emotional roller coaster ride; personalities we all know. While brilliantly weaving in themes of revolution, treachery, and revenge, “Black Men Everywhere!” is surprisingly — more than anything else — a love story.

“I wrote the play for Black men and everyone who loves us,” Ferreira said. “The play is narrated by a sistah and performed in front of the deeply spiritual artwork of Nedra T. Williams, an Oakland priestess of Olokun. It’s called ‘Black Men Everywhere!’ but we don’t exist without the Black woman.”

For tickets, please go to: http://tinyurl.com/5dm3mhra

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