OAKLAND -- The Dimond District inaugurated a new mural in the neighborhood May 14 entitled, "I Love Dimond," by local artist Debbie Koppman.
Along MacArthur Boulevard between Lincoln and Fruitvale avenues, a wall surrounding a PG&E substation stretches nearly half the length of the street, providing an ideal canvas for the mural. Upon request, PG&E graciously donated the wall for the project.
Koppman created a tile mosaic on two brick walls and painted the wooden door in between.
"Art is a transformative agent," Koppman said. "People from all walks of life would come by and tell me it was beautiful."
"The Dimond would not be the same without Debbie Koppman's work," said Mayor Jean Quan. "It makes this area very special. Thank you, PG&E for letting us use your wall."
Koppman's process began in June 2013 at the Dimond Night Out, when she asked residents to bring meaningful objects, representing their backgrounds. The goal was to capture the multiethnic, multicultural flavor of the neighborhood. She collected items such as a Maria Clara gown from the Philippines, a Lebanese dress, a Polish doll and a Swedish horse from her neighbors.
Koppman artfully created a unified image from these disparate objects, while also incorporating elements from her previous mural, "Dimond's Hidden Jewels," which she created in collaboration with Mandy Lockwood, on the wall of Farmer Joe's Marketplace on Fruitvale Avenue.
Lockwood, a teacher, Martha Trujillo, a high school intern, and Shardie Thomas, an Academy of Art graduate student, spent many hours helping Koppman tile and grout the creation.
The masterpiece took nearly 500 hours to create, Koppman estimated. The overall effect of the finished product is similar to a tapestry.
"It turned out beautiful," said Tom Guarino, government relations manager for PG&E. "We want to be part of the community. This project is an opportunity for us to facilitate this. It's an opportunity for us to share assets with the community. We love their excitement It's great to have them appreciate our meager contribution."
Funding for the project came from a grant from the city of Oakland. Additional funding came from the Dimond Improvement Association and the Montclair Lions Club, with proceeds from the Dimond Night Out, a fundraiser that the group puts on in the Dimond neighborhood.
District 4 Councilmember Libby Schaaf helped to coordinate the project.
"Debbie puts the sparkle in the Dimond, and PG&E makes the Dimond glow," Schaaf said. "Thank you for continuing to share your love and creativity to light up Oakland and light up the Dimond."