Richmond Art Center
Richmond Art Center

23rd Street Mural Honoring Black Lives Matter

By Rebeca Garcia-Gonzalez

The goal for Richmond-artist Rebeca Garcia-Gonzalez’s project was to bring Black, Afro-Latinx and Latinx community members together to create a mural that affirms the Black Lives Matter movement. The idea came from an invitation by members of the Richmond Our Power Coalition. During the project, Richmond community members gathered in Richmond Art Center’s courtyard to paint several mobile murals on canvas, some of them in Spanish, to be displayed where the Latino community congregates.

Rebeca is specially grateful to Richmond artist and collaborator Carmen Melendez Toya, who assisted in all stages  of this project.

About the Artist: Rebeca Garcia-Gonzalez is a Richmond, CA painter who grew up in a suburb of San Juan, Puerto Rico. After earning a BFA at the University of Puerto Rico, she came to San Francisco in 1985 to pursue a graduate degree in fine art. Rebeca has been painting the Bay Area landscape for a few years. She is also interested in the figure and in portraits of people from groups underrepresented in the canon. She shows her work locally. Her paintings are part of several local, private collections.

City of Black and Brown Solidarity

This limited edition poster was created by a local Richmond artist from the Liberación Gráfica collective, a group from Richmond composed of artists, educators, and community members that create work to uplift social justice, the Richmond community, and young people’s voices.

As the Black Lives Matter movement has drawn global attention following nationwide demonstrations calling for an end to police and state sanctioned violence on Black lives, artists and activists have been mobilized in finding creative ways to support this work. This 8 color print City of Black and Brown Solidarity was created in response to this ongoing systemic oppression and racial injustice. 

Highlighting the City of Richmond as fertile ground for cross cultural solidarity between Black and Brown lives, the image invites the community to reflect on the ways collective power is needed, and the ways we can fortify each other in the journey towards liberation.

Posters are being distributed to local businesses and nonprofits in support of this urgent message.

You Found Me: A Gift For You

By Lauren Ari

Richmond-artist and Teaching Artist at Richmond Art Center Lauren Ari created this interactive project, You Found Me: A Gift For You, as a way to stay connected and in creative dialogue with the Richmond Community.

Each of these 50 ceramic sculptures was hand formed by Ari, individually glazed and fired in her kiln in her home studio. Each fits within the palm of the hand, and can be used decoratively or ritually. However recipients chose to use them, “let it be a reminder that nobody is alone” says Lauren.

Wrapped in bright paper with a tag marked “I am a gift for you!” and an enclosed note, these sculptures were then distributed throughout neighborhoods, community centers, local businesses, bodegas, and parks, placed so that someone walking along could find them.

The note invited participants to correspond via email about the experience of finding the object, how they might be using it, and ways they are moving through this unprecedented time.

These colorfully packaged sculptures offer an opportunity for surprise in a time punctuated by monotony and an invitation for connection in a time of widespread isolation.


Instagram: @thelaurenari


Entrada Sagrada


Richmond-artist AGANA spent two days creating her site-specific mural that now adorns the columns flanking RAC’s Barrett Street entrance. After five months of RAC’s facility being closed to the public during shelter-in-place, it was so exciting to have an artist working onsite again. Agana carefully developed her work to harmonize with Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo’s banner nearby, This is life long work.

Artist Statement:

Known to the world as AGANA, I am an internationally acclaimed artist by the name of  Vanessa Solari Espinoza (American, b.1982).

I am a multi-dimensional contemporary mural artist, I give public walls a vibrant life withbold aesthetics, bursting colors, textual calligraphic gestures and abstract form. 

At the intersection of graffiti and fine art practices, my intention is to communicate common social threads via monumental vision.

I describe my style layered in storytelling while stimulating transformative conceptualism for viewers through visual linguistics via spray, gradients, speckles, drips, and blending mixed mediums.

Prolific in my production, I create platforms for successful global art projects found on city buildings across the Americas and worldwide from Switzerland to Senegal.

Bringing us home, continuing to keep Richmond beautiful, it is a true honor to be able to paint my first mural as a solo artist in conjunction with masterpieces by other talented Bay Area artists.

This is my 3rd mural project at Richmond Art Center. The first two murals I had previously painted were with cohorts of talented youth artists from RYSE. The first mural is located at the side entrance, the theme is “Keep Richmond Beautiful”. The theme of the second mural temporarily installed located in the courtyard was “Keep Families Together”.

The front entrance mural welcomes you as a portal into the unique experience from galleries to studios that is the heart of RAC. 

The under and overlapping colors you see are woven together like water connecting the iconic fish Guillermo with the visually vibrating poetic words of Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo’s banner.

The mural is a call and response connecting the art pieces while playfully speaking to one another on different dimensions of the same building, echoing water is life, agua es vida.

Each stroke of color is symbolic of our symbiotic connection to the elements of water and air literally flowing through our bodies.

We are the reflection of the earth in sliced growing gradients building each other up through our collective struggles from environmental racism to people over profit. 

The intention of the close up splashes of paint you see from Guillermo the Fish’s tale are creating currents and waves of resistance against the fossil fuel industry.

Each pillar is a symbol of the vast spectrims of our identities giving us life, holding up our dreams and standing tall in solidarity with the deep roots of artistry, mentoring the seeds of our future.

This mural is a call to action protecting the elements of the earth for future generations adding urgency to create art as your action towards climate justice as a climate warrior.

Upon viewing the mural in person, you will see the seamless strokes wrapping around the edges of the columns differently depending on your point of view.

One may observe from walking through this mural experience that how we approach new art mediums is similar to ways that we approach creating new innovative ideas from different angles and perspectives.

May this mural bring new audiences, mentors and hidden talent through the doors to continue to cultivate our creative confidence in the rich history and herstory that is Richmond, CA. 

About the Artist: Of Venezuelan descent and hailing from the San Francisco Bay Area, AGANA gives public walls vibrant life with her iconic pictorial imagery, bold aesthetics, bursting colors, textual calligraphic gestures and form. At the intersections of street art, graffiti and fine art practices she communicates common social threads via monumental vision. Rooted in her Latinx identity as part of the larger American experience, AGANA also translates the artistic mural process into fruitful community-building strategies. With a background in graphic design and jewelry metal arts, AGANA received a BAS in Visual Effects from Ex’pression College for Digital Art in 2008 working in the film, animation and video game production industries. Prolific in her production, AGANA creates platforms for successful global art projects found on city buildings across the Americas and worldwide from Switzerland to Senegal.

At this very moment

By Dawline-Jane Oni-Eseleh


During this period of social isolation digital platforms have become crucial in bridging gaps in social interaction. In my personal experience, the hardest parts of navigating this time have involved missing out on connecting to create tangible artifacts. As a full time teaching artist I spend a lot of time facilitating visual communication and various points of view with artists to create physical pieces of art. That came to abrupt halt when shelter in place was enforced, but the need to create physical records still remains.

There has been a rush to respond to this moment that leaves out some of the nuance and “realness” of it. Many of us have been spending an unprecedented time at home or in our own home bases. For me, this has afforded an opportunity to interact with my space in a new way, investigate what works for me and what doesn’t, cook meals and dive deeper into what physical nourishment means, and connect with my neighbors in new ways, including non verbal communication and eye contact because of face masks. In contrast, when I connect to friends and loved ones online, a lot of the focus is on the bigger moments, things “worthy” of transmitting.

For this project I asked community members to capture some of those deep, powerful, “small” moments to create a physical record of our time apart, and send me the digital photograph. I then printed these pictures as polaroids to create a tangible record of our daily lives during these times of quarantine, shelter in place, and social change. The process of converting these digital images into photos altered them slightly, shifting colors, softening resolution, obliterating details and cropping out certain elements, which mimics the way that history gets passed down. The resulting artifacts tell a story of life in Richmond at this very moment.
– Dawline-Jane Oni-Eseleh

About the Artist: Dawline-Jane Oni-Eseleh has been a part of the Richmond Art Center community since she began there as a teaching artist in 2016. She in based out of Oakland, CA, where she continues to work as a teaching artist, educational facilitator, illustrator, and exhibiting visual artist with a full time studio practice.

Special thanks to our Richmond Art Center community contributors, without whom this project would not have been possible: Alissa Anderson, Alison Ahara-Brown, Amber Avalos, Coleen Haraden-Gorski, Erin McClusky Wheeler, Irene Wibawa, Laura Kamian, Melody Serra, Janet Lipkin, Jocelyn Jones, For The Barrios, Emily Ross, Holly Carter, Shantanice Swain, Chiara Sottile

Holding Warmth

By Marisa Burman

I started this project at the beginning of quarantine back in March. It was a way of keeping me sane through making and also a way of maintaining community during a time of isolation.

In partnership with Richmond Art Center, I made twenty mango bowls and gave them out to people in our network of teachers, artists and community members. I wish I could give a bowl to everyone I know! Because for me the bowls are an offering of love and care, and an embodiment of joy and human connection. Handmade objects hold power.
– Marisa Burman

About the Artist: Marisa Burman is a ceramic artist and teacher who has been making things out of clay for 15 years. Originally from San Francisco, she is currently living and working in Richmond where she manages the ceramics studio at Richmond Art Center. In her own work she loves using porcelain, and seeks to make colorful and meaningful objects that people can use in their daily lives. Burman enjoys the science behind the ceramic process and the constant surprises that firing clay brings. She also loves the community aspect of ceramic arts — the sharing of knowledge & experience, and the never ending source of learning and challenge. Follow Marisa Burman on Instagram: @marisaburman

Slideshow images: Images of the bowls in use by their new owners

This is life long work

By Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo

Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo, This is life long work, 2020

This is life long work (2020) is a newly commissioned artwork by Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo. Reproduced as a 13 x 12 foot banner displayed at the front Barrett Street entrance of Richmond Art Center, the work was created via a collaborative community process.

Branfman-Verissimo says of their work, “The process of gathering the narratives of people and communities that surround me is on equal ground with the artistic craft of telling them.”

For This is life long work, Branfman-Verissimo collaborated with RAC staff and teaching artists through a discussion of community care. Specifically, they asked them, “How does this community enact, support and prioritize care, mutual aid, collective care and collective action?”

Photos by Francisco Rojas @pac_pops

About the Artist: Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo is an artist, activist, educator, storyteller & curator who after being based in Oakland, CA for 10 years, now lives and works in Richmond, VA. They got their BFA from California College of the Arts [Oakland, CA] and is currently getting their MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University [Richmond, VA]. Branfman-Verissimo’s work has been included in exhibitions at Deli Gallery [Long Island City, NY], EFA Project Space [New York City, NY], Pt. 2 Gallery [Oakland, CA], Leslie Lohman Museum for Gay & Lesbian Art [New York City, NY], Signal Center for Contemporary Art [Malmo, Sweden] and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts [San Francisco, CA], amongst others and performances at SOMArts Cultural Center [San Francisco, CA], Highways Performance Space [Los Angeles, CA], ACRE Gallery [Chicago, IL] and Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive [Berkeley, CA]. Branfman-Verissimo has been awarded residencies and fellowships at Kala Art Center [Berkeley, CA], ACRE Residency [Steuben, WI], Vermont Studio Center [Johnson, VT] and CENTER [Grand Rapids, MI]. They are the Founder of Nook Gallery, a gallery that was located in their home kitchen from 2015-2020 & will take new forms in the future!

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