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Oakland Musem of California Presents New Public Artwork Depicting Local Healing Luminaries

(OAKLAND, CA) June 9, 2014, Updated September 10, 2014—The Oakland Museum of California is proud to present a new public artwork by Oakland-based artist Brett Cook to be unveiled at a celebration on Friday, October 24, 2014. The event celebrates the creation and installation of Cook’s work Reflections of Healing, and welcomes the community to the Museum to celebrate. The artwork features portraits of nine local healers created with community participation, and will be the first-ever art work to be installed on the 12th Street façade of the Museum’s iconic mid-century modernist building, facing Lake Merritt, an ideal surface for making art accessible to the public. The installation will be visible from the Lake, creating a colorful and inspiring new focal point for the thousands of residents and visitors who visit the area daily and introducing them to the community members featured in the work. Cook’s work will be familiar to OMCA visitors from his stunning installation Little Bobby Hutton Power Figure in the exhibition Forgotten Stories, Remarkable Lives: Días de los Muertos 2012.

Consisting of various large-scale paintings featuring quotes, symbols and documentation, Reflections of Healing will be installed on the 12th Street corner of the Oakland Museum of California in October of 2014. The visual installation will showcase an array of portraiture techniques including Cook’s signature use of color and mark for capturing likeness and character, as well as his use of non-traditional materials, documentary images, and collaborative art-making methods.

For his subjects, Cook selected prominent Oakland-based healers to represent diverse roles in the community. The nine individuals featured in the portraits include: Kathy Ahoy, Traci Bartlow, Melanie Cervantes, Esteban Cuaya-Munoz, Lillian Galedo, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Tyler Norris, William Wong, and Oscar Wright. The healers are pictured as adolescents in the work, emphasizing the collective potential of youth and to engage younger and widely diverse viewers. Participants were selected from the Museum’s Community Partners: Eastside Arts Alliance, the Oakland Asian Cultural Center, and the YMCA of the East Bay, as well as the Life is Living festival, where Cook is an organizer. Interviews with participants and representatives of the community organizations, together with the collaborative art-making process itself, will shape the finished mural to be installed at the Museum.

“We could not be more honored to welcome this extraordinary art work to our walls and to our neighborhood. Created by Brett Cook, the work will capture the diverse, vibrant community of Oakland-based healers,” said Lori Fogarty, Director and CEO of the Oakland Museum of California. “The opportunity to present Reflections of Healing through the OMCA Connect program and with the generous support of the James Irvine Foundation allows the Museum to highlight our connections to neighboring communities where we’re building relationships. We hope this artwork will be an inspiration to everyone, from loyal Museumgoers to people visiting Oakland for the first time.”

The free Reflections of Healing Celebration and Mural Unveiling, to take place on the 12th Street/Lake Merritt side of OMCA, will celebrate the installation as a new Oakland public artwork on Friday, October 24. In honor of the occasion, visitors to the Museum will be invited to engage in hands-on art making, participate in activities focused on wellness, and converse with healers from the community, including those depicted in the portraits. Held during Friday Nights @ OMCA, the Museum’s weekly late-night food truck party, the Reflections of Healing Celebration will also feature local food, performances, and live music.


Reflections of Healing Celebration and Mural Unveiling
Friday, October 24, 2014, 5–9 pm
Join OMCA for the public unveiling of Reflections of Healing, a large-scale art installation created by artist and educator Brett Cook with participation from the community. The installation, which will be visible from across Lake Merritt, features portraits of notable Oakland healers, who through practice or legacy demonstrate healing in their work. Join the celebration on 12th Street/Lake Merritt Boulevard in the parklet between the Museum and the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center, and enjoy food trucks, music, wellness activities, art making, and more during Friday Nights @ OMCA.

Cost: Free to the public.

For over two decades, artist and educator Brett Cook has produced installations, exhibitions, curricula, and events across the United States and internationally. His personal work features drawing, painting, photography, and elaborate installations that make intimate personal experiences universally accessible. His public projects involve community workshops and collaborative art, along with music, performance, and food to create a more fluid boundary between art making, daily life, and healing. Cook was selected as a cultural ambassador to Nigeria as part of the U.S. Department of State’s 2012 smARTpower Initiative and an inaugural A Blade of Grass Fellow for Socially Engaged Art in 2014. His work is in private and public collections including the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, the Walker Art Center, and Harvard University.

The Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) brings together collections of art, history and natural science under one roof to tell the extraordinary stories of California and its people. OMCA’s groundbreaking exhibits tell the many stories that comprise California with many voices, often drawing on first-person accounts by people who have shaped California’s cultural heritage. Visitors are invited to actively participate in the Museum as they learn about the natural, artistic, and social forces that affect the state and investigate their own role in both its history and its future. With more than 1.9 million objects, OMCA is a leading cultural institution of the Bay Area and a resource for the research and understanding of California’s dynamic cultural and environmental heritage.

Community engagement is a fundamental practice at OMCA throughout its galleries, special exhibitions, and public programming. Through OMCA Connect, the Museum directly engages community organizations, including partners Eastside Arts Alliance, the Oakland Asian Cultural Center, and the YMCA of the East Bay, and traditionally underserved individuals with participatory art projects that nurture a community of citizen artists both onsite and outside the Museum walls. This effort is creating a new model of community engagement based on the Museum’s past successes in participatory practice and cultural inclusion. OMCA Connect is supported by a grant from the James Irvine Foundation.

The Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) is at 1000 Oak Street, at 10th Street, in Oakland. OMCA is situated between downtown Oakland and Lake Merritt. Museum admission is $15 general; $10 seniors and students with valid ID, $6 youth ages 9 to 17, and free for Members and children 8 and under. During Friday Nights @ OMCA, admission after 5 pm is half-off for adults, and free for ages 18 and under. OMCA offers onsite underground parking and is conveniently located one block from the Lake Merritt BART station. The accessibility ramp is located at the 1000 Oak Street main entrance.

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