I joined Attitudinal Healing Connection about two weeks before the third Super Hero Mural installation began. It's located under the 580 bridge on West and 35th st in Oakland. I had high expectations. This would be largest project I've worked on in regards to the size of the wall, team, and technical skill required to complete the work. I was excited for the opportunity to create with other amazing artists that I had briefly met during our orientation. I had no idea how important the team and AHC organization would mean to me after facing a tragedy that rocked us and our Oakland community to the core.
Within the first week of painting I formed a special connection with my fellow team member, Antonio Ramos. I knew from his energy that he was a good guy. His excitement and enthusiasm for the mural was the greatest on the team, which shouldn't be taken lightly because the energy was high throughout the entire team. Antonio and I prepped the wall together and he painted on my right side for the entire first week. He painted the purple house and I painted the pink house.The following are a list of experiences we shared that stuck with me and caused great sorrow when I learned he had been murdered while painting on the wall. He died on a Tuesday of our second week.
• Before I knew Antonio, we met. My best friend lives off of 33rd and Telegraph. One day I noticed an electrical box that had been painted. It was dope. I took a picture. And made a mental note that I need to paint electrical boxes.
• Antonio was from Oakland- a real Town dude. Numerous people shouted out to him through passing while we painted. I was impressed because his conversations were genuine and they were usually with people he considered really good friends. They were people who reminded me of my friends.
• Antonio brought a portable speaker and we connected fast through music. He asked me to dj because he ran out of music that wasn't appropriate for everyone to listen to. I was impressed that he considered others and prioritized being respectful to children and elders that may have been passing by. I introduced him to Fela Kuti and he loved it. He sent me a few reggae playlists and showed me how to download music off of youtube. Here are two reggae mixes he sent me youtube.com/watch?v=tR-5AZF9zPI & youtube.com/watch?v=joqvGrZWZt0
• There was a moment when I felt myself tired with low-energy. I made a sly comment about being too tired. Tony agreed with me because he was up at 4am to help the lead artist and mural director trace figures onto the wall. He had just gotten back after a few hours of sleep to continue working.
• Lastly, Antonio documented the entire mural process shamelessly. He took photos of/for everyone and posted them on facebook along with an encouraging message of support and acknowledgment. He wasn't a journalist or a social media personality. He didn't post photos for more likes or followers. He was just genuinely happy to share his experience with others.
I didn't get to ask you about the funny blue car that you drove around or what your clothing brand "inermies" is all about. If we had more time I'm sure we would have figured out that we share hella friends in common, like that new skate shop on macarthur is across the street from the middle school I teach at. I guess the sorrow that I am felt/feeling is what happens when a kindred spirit is ripped from you.
Your light was bright and pure, and I thank you for that. My prayer and love goes to your family and your friends. I thank them for being a part of your life and enabling you to be who you were. Continue to create and watch over us. Much Love.