Art appears in the most unlikely places in Oakland. One of the more surprising spots for public art is on the side of garbage cans. They sit at the edge of the Maxwell Park playground. They punctuate the High Street landscape, offering on-the-spot artwork to commuters waiting at bus stops, pedestrians passing by and the fellow who leans against one of the squat, rectangular structures to take a load off. Roberto Costa, Beverly Shalom, Karen Diffrumolo, Linda Vogel and Daud Abdullah are some of the artists associated with these mosaic tile cans.
“Roberto was the person who started the mosaic trash can concept here in our neighborhood,” said Beverly Shalom. “While I worked on several trash can panels and was a part of the ‘first wave’, I feel that Roberto and Daud have taken on more of a leadership role on an ongoing basis in this realm. They both have been extremely prolific, spreading this movement throughout the East Bay.”
Mosaic Arts have been around for at least 4000 years. The materials used in mosaic art include things such stones, bits of glass and beads. They last much longer than paint-based murals such as frescoes and modern works in exterior acrylics or latex paints, and surviving mosaic tile murals from the Roman and Byzantine Empires can be quite vivid despite being as much as 2000 years old. These beautiful mosaic art trashcans are created upon sturdy concrete cans, adding long term value to the communities they are in. Mosaic tile murals are so durable they can sometimes outlast surrounding buildings. The mosaic tile projects promise to continue to characterize the neighborhoods they occupy for years to come.
“We have had a good reception from the various neighborhoods,” said Roberto Costa, a member of Allendale Park Beautification Committee. “The neighborhood groups have adopted the trashcans as their own, making sure that they don’t accumulate trash due to illegal dumping or graffiti and taking over calling up the city services to come out and maintain them.”
“We have multiple projects going on at present time. The Temescal Business District has contracted with one of the new mosaic artists, Juan Lopez, to mosaic concrete trashcans along Telegraph Avenue. It’s a volunteer program,” added Costa. “Each individual artist has their own motivation for doing it. For me, it was to help build and organize community, and I believe that has happened.”