Beauty in a Tough Town.

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Themes of resistance and revolution often appear.
Photograph by Deanne Fitzmaurice, National Geographic
 by Cynthia Gorney, for National Geographic
Pen Harshaw said he’d meet me at the concrete landing on the east side of Lake Merritt, across the water from the courthouse.
Both of us were on bicycles, because what Pen was going to show me requires negotiating barbed wire fence openings and the narrow spaces between idled train cars and warehouse walls.
“Writers,” he said. “That’s what they call themselves. Not artists. Writers.”
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Journalist Pen Harshaw, a former student of Cynthia Gorney’s, was her street art guide. Here he stops at a “throw-up,” in which letters fatten and take on a hint of character.
Photograph by Deanne Fitzmaurice, National Geographic
From my house to that end of the lake it’s mostly a downhill roll, past the Ethiopian restaurants, the Korean barbecue houses, the fried-chicken-sandwich place that uses ironing boards for sidewalk tables, the Middle Eastern grocery that sells baba ghanoush and grass-fed beef burgers, the old funeral home with its entry sign translated into Vietnamese, and the rehabbed art deco movie palace where I once watched an African-American church diva wind up the annual holiday concert by singing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” in Yiddish, accompanied by a Klezmer band
That was after the full interfaith gospel choir and the youth chorus that filled the stage with Latino and black and white and Asian and Pacific islander teenagers, all in churchy robes, with voices that made our hair stand on end.
I remember the symphony director coming out at one point during that concert, looking as though he was about to keel over from happiness, clasping his hands together and blurting, “People, do we not live in the most wonderful city?”
Continue the article via Sneak Attacks of Beauty in a Tough Town: Street Art in Oakland, California.

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