Artist Spotlight: Mildred Howard

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In the Line of Fire by: Mildred Howard

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6639 by:Mildred Howard

By: Aleksandra Bulatskaya

The enslavement and systematic murder of African Americans doesn’t get nearly as much attention from the mainstream art world as many other human rights atrocities, such as the Hebrew Holocaust. Mildred Howard’s art throws a spotlight on this issue by viewing it through a historical, international and at times personal perspective.

After hosting shows in Berlin, Cairo, London and New York most artists would settle in one of these international hubs for a life artistic glitz and glamor. A Berkley native, mixed media and landscape artist, Howard has done the complete opposite by becoming one of the most dedicated leaders of the San Francisco Bay Area arts scene.

On her daily walk to Berkley High School, some of Howard’s fondest memories come from smelling the surrounding gardens. As Executive Director of Alice Water’s Edible Schoolyard project, Howard seeks to help local teenagers and kids learn how to garden and stay out of trouble in the process.

The project was founded by local food movement legend, Chef Alice Waters. Kids are taught gardening and about how food affects their communities and the environment. It was Waters herself who tapped Howard for the Executive Director role, for her continual work as a spacial artist and leadership of the Oakland Exploratorium museum.

Her body of work reflects her beliefs in things growing from one another and becoming organically intertwined. Her famous glass bottle house works came to her in a dream and by no accident resemble plantation slave quarters. One her most well known glass houses, the blue bottle house was inspired by the death of her son.

She heard of a young boy who grew up in a home surrounded by glass bottles coming out of the ground. He thought that the bottle grew from the soil, like plants because he did not know enough about gardening. One day she awoke and knew that all she needed glass bottles to build these sheds.

Her work, In the Line of Fire, illustrates the face of a young African American WWII G.I. who went on to fight for American freedoms that he would never have himself. Other powerful themes included a room full of thousands of eggs to symbolize the lives lost in The Middle Passage.

Going from exploring some of the darkest chapters in human history to teaching and inspiring new generations, it seems that Howard’s body of work continues to come full circle.

Arts & Events: Peralta Junction Pop-up

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Photo by: Jesse Roadkill Wilson

By: Aleksandra Bulatskaya

There are times when the most outlandish experiences inspire the most visionary art. This may be the case when you step to the Rickshaw ticket booth at the Peralta Junction Pop-up this weekend in West Oakland.

The Junction is a living multimedia, performance and art instillation with daily concerts, shows and events.

“We’ve conjured up a magical creative space,” said Leslie Pritchett of Commonplace Productions, one of the Junction’s creators.

Inside, visitors can partake in vintage carnival games, provided by M.T. Pockets Traveling Midway of Curiosities and enjoy live music and performances by Another Roadside Attractions.

Originally, the project was an abandoned lot at the junction of Mandela Parkway and West Grand Avenue in West Oakland.

That was until Commonplace Productions, a design and build collective, and One Hat One Hand re-imagined it as a local art, design and performance space. Soon Oakland’s tight-knit art community came together to help the space come to life.

A city known its grit, Oakland is one of the most artistically supportive cities in the Bay Area and this project is another testament to that dedication.

Where: West Oakland, at Mandela Parkway and West Grand Avenue

When: Through December 15

www.peraltajunction.com