AB&I FOUNDRY IMPROVES SAN LEANDRO STREET ONE SCENE AT A TIME
From gang violence to economic decline, the problems of cities can seem like unconquerable giants. AB&I Foundry, an Oakland based manufacturing plant, is striving to combat the ills of their community through a custom art mural that spans their entire facility, that is situated between the BART and railroad tracks along San Leandro Street in Oakland, CA.
San Leandro Street is undergoing a spectacular transformation with the city block being wrapped in an elaborate wall mural. AB&I Foundry has a rich history in the San Francisco Bay Area. Having been born in the shadows of the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, the foundry’s primary products were decorative light poles and iron and brass statuary. This is one of the first scenes depicted in the wall mural. Others scenes that honor its history include a battle ship from WWII, The Oakland Zoo, our manufacturing processes and the multi-cultural people that work at AB&I Foundry. It also features many of our team members through our history as well as some familiar faces such as Ignacio De La Fuente who has served as leader of the Union Local 164B and the City Council for Oakland. Mr. De La Fuente has been a very good friend to the union team members of AB&I for many years.
“Our city is in desperate need of beautification”, said Kurt Winter, General Manager of AB&I. “The walls around our neighborhood are constantly being tagged by the graffiti artists, so we decided to take action and turn the expansive wall surrounding our manufacturing facility into a canvas.”
AB&I contracted local Bay Area artist, Jean Bidwell from Castro Valley, to create artwork that incorporates the history of the company from its inception in 1906 to modern day times with scenes that embrace their commitment to sustainability. The scenes reflect the spirit and attitude that has made AB&I successful in the last century. “We have a long history of social and environmental responsibility, and this is yet another contribution we are making to improve our community”, said Kurt Winter.
As a major recycler, AB&I uses thousands of tons of recycled metal each year in the manufacturing of cast iron soil pipe. Nearly all consumables used by the foundry are recycled, making us a near-zero contributor of solid waste. It is this attitude and business practice that makes AB&I a steward of the environment. They value the environment and work to consistently improve their programs for water treatment, air pollution, recycling and solid waste management.
“With great optimism, we look forward to this mural site becoming a community treasure and some of Oakland’s best contemporary art in the public sphere," said city leader, Ignacio De La Fuente. “We hope to see other companies in this neighborhood also consider contracting their own murals in anticipation of improving the overall beauty of our community.”
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Artist Renderings telling the AB&I Story: The mural consists of 2,026 square feet, 8-foot high wall that is 253 linear feet in length.