Gateway Mural Painted on Webster Street

Dave Young Kim and Erik Burke installing a mural at  the corner of Webster Street and Pacific Avenue.
Photo Maurice Ramirez - Dave Young Kim and Erik Burke installing a mural at the corner of Webster Street and Pacific Avenue.

Gateway Mural Painted on Webster Street

Over the short space of a week this vivid, striking mural has appeared on the corner of Webster Street and Pacific Avenue, on the side wall of the soon-to open Ceron Kitchen restaurant. This is the Webster Gateway Mural, a project initiated by local nonprofit West End Arts District (WEAD), and brought to fruition by artists Dave Young Kim, and Erik Burke. “Dave and Erik have been on site at all hours of the day, working relentlessly to complete this massive artwork,” says WEAD Executive Director, Tara Pilbrow. “It’s been incredible watching their progress.”

Although the artwork has gone up at lightening speed, the journey to bring this mural to life has been slow and elaborate. Almost five years ago now, WEAD board member Rachel Campos de Ivanov started campaigning for a major mural on Webster, something that would welcome people to the West End, and add some color to Webster Street. It took three years to find the right location. In late 2020, WEAD came to an agreement with Roy Campos, the owner of the building at 1619 Webster Street, and of the former Otaez Mexican Restaurant that closed this year. Having secured a site, they put out an RFP for mural artists, and set about raising the $36k budget for the project.

The WEAD board unanimously voted to work with Oakland-based artist Dave Young Kim. Kim has been painting murals for more than 15 years and his work can be found on streets and in business in Alameda, Oakland, and throughout the world. Winner of the Asian Pacific American Heritage Award, Kim’s work reflects his identity as a second generation Korean American, featuring symbols, pat terns and colors from Korean culture, along with themes of displacement and integration.

Dave refers to himself as a “community artist,” meaning that he works hand-in-hand with the local community to create work that reflects and inspires them. The design for the Webster Gateway Mural reflects many hours spent talking to West End community members, learning about our his tory, and absorbing the natural beauty and quirky character of our Island. “Our goal was to introduce Dave to the widest possible scope of Alameda personalities,” says Pilbrow. “So many different themes and stories were discussed, but we wanted to give Dave the freedom to sift through all of the ideas and information and choose his own direction.” The final design incorporates references to the history of the West End, the sailors and the tattoo parlors that populated Webster street. It also highlights the natural beauty of Alameda; the birds, flowers, and cypress trees. The Latin phrase on the city official seal “prosperitasmari terra que” which translates as “prosperity from land and sea” was a key element in the process. It led to reflection on the delicate balance between man and nature that has shaped Alameda’s past, and is increasingly vital to the way we shape our future.

Bringing together the funding for the project was no small feat for WEAD. “We have never tried to commission an artwork on this scale,” says Pilbrow. “It was daunting, but the incredible support we received from throughout the community has been inspirational. There are so many institutions, businesses and individuals who have carried this project; the California Arts Council, Alameda County Arts Commission, the City of Alameda, sponsors: West Alameda Business Association, SRMErnst and Kelly Lux State Farm, and over 100 generous individuals who contributed to our recent Kickstarter campaign.”

Local photographer and videographer, Maurice Ramirez has been documenting the full journey of the creation of the Webster Gateway Mural. Look forward to his short film in the near future. WEAD is working on plans for a grand opening for the mural, but in the meantime, head out to the corner of Webster and Pacific and take a look for yourselves.