OAKLAND -- The latest addition to the Woodminster neighborhood is a mural, depicting Joaquin Miller Park at its finest on the side of the Woodminster Market along Joaquin Miller Road.
A dedication ceremony will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday, during which artist Andrew Johnstone will sign his work.
The community hopes the mural in tromp l'oeil style, in which objects are painted in detail that is photographically realistic, will put the neighborhood on the map.
"We feel that the mural puts us there. It gives us an identity," said Firelli Nails owne r Angie Haller-Teixeira, who spearheaded the project.
"I wanted to create something that would have meaning for the community," Johnstone said.
"It's like a passage inviting you in," Johnstone said. "The idea is that art can be something that one can live in, rather than just look at. It becomes a backdrop, part of our environment."
"The mural captures the flavor of the neighborhood. It's an invoice into history," pointed out Jeri Schneider, Johnstone's wife and an eighth-grade science teacher at Edna Brewer Middle School.
"Angie is the spark plug in the community. She wants the community to be vital," said Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, who resides in the area.
Miley put up half the $5,000 cost of the mural from county funds. Haller-Teixeira launched a grass roots fundraising effort in the community to fund the other half. Neighbors and businesses were generous donors, particularly the owners of the Woodminster Market, the home of the mural. People would drive by and see what was happening and give $20, Haller-Teixeira said. Johnstone reduced his fees to make the project work.
"I did it because it was fun," he said. "Often, my work is hidden behind a big oak front door. Everyone gets to see this." Johnstone's work is featured in homes in the area.
Miley was familiar with Johnstone's work through an organization called The Big Picture Arts Project, which seeks to mentor and redirect graffiti offenders. Johnstone is the project director of the program.
"Art is about permanence, leaving a legacy," Johnstone said. "Urban art is entirely valid. Doing it in a space that's not yours is destructive."
Johnstone's project redirects graffiti artists' self-expression to canvas.
Johnstone has also participated in the Burning Man Festival in the Nevada desert during Labor Day, focused on self-expression and experiments with community. He has constructed the "burning man," the traditional effigy burned at the closing of the festival each year.
Johnstone, a native of Scotland, has resided in the United States for 25 years. In addition to being a muralist, he is a marbler and grainier by trade, practicing the 4,000-year-old tradition of painting a surface to look as if it is wood or marble.
"I was lucky when I was a young fellow that the right people came along at the right time and led me down the right path," Johnstone said.
"I cut my teeth working on cathedrals and palaces in Europe," Johnstone said.
He was mentored by one of Europe's great marblers and grainiers, William Holgate, who died in 2002.
"I hear Holgate every day. When I put my brush down, that's it. That's my legacy," Johnstone said.
"These types of projects are symbolic of living together," Miley said. "I'm pleased and delighted that we were able to pull this off. It's a testament of its legacy. It's another step of the continuing journey of togetherness of the community. I hope that the dedication will bring the community together."