Envision taking the stairs to your apartment and getting lost in the colors and details of a jungle… Hummingbirds, flowers, and faces float past you, and before you know it, you’re at your floor.
See? Taking the stairs wasn’t so hard after all.
That is the experience The Unity Council and EBALDC wanted to create for Casa Arabella residents. The main staircase features a mural that starts in the lobby and continues all the way up to the fourth floor of the building.
The mural, painted by Oakland-based painter, muralist, and illustrator Joshua Mays, features multiple dream-like hummingbirds filled with color. In his artist statement, Joshua describes his inspiration:
“I’ve been stuck in an appreciation vortex that is spitting upward as I ponder life as the wildest dreams of our ancestors and, as the fertile seedbed for the creative fruits nourishing imaginations of future generations. This mural is the illustration of that particular headspace for the sake of communicating timeless possibility to the residents and visitors of Casa Arabella.”
Why hummingbirds? The hummingbirds pay homage to Arabella Martinez. Hummingbirds are her favorite bird due to their beauty and what they represent in the Aztec culture. The Aztecs interpreted the hummingbird as a reincarnation of warriors; we adopted this image as the point of departure for the aesthetics approach to the Casa Arabella project. We extended the Aztec representation of the hummingbird to embody the spirit of Arabella as a warrior-activist for the Fruitvale Community.
About the Artist
Joshua Mays is an Oakland-based painter, muralist, and illustrator. Born in Denver CO, he studied illustration at Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design and graphic design at Community College of Denver before moving to Philadelphia, where he lived and worked for eight years before exhibiting and traveling nationwide. He has created commissions in Washington DC, Denver, Portland, Philadelphia, Oakland, London, Johannesburg, Mexico City, and Jakarta. Check out Joshua Mays on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/joshuamaysart