Plan some extra time in Oakland’s Chinatown because walking through Downtown Oakland’s streets inevitably means stopping to look at exquisite street art. If you look closely, you’ll notice most of the murals in this areas are signed, “Dragon School 99.”
We were curious what this meant, so reached out to their executive director, Sage. We were lucky enough meet with him during a Sunday afternoon session of Dragon School.
Dragon School is a nonprofit that, in their words, “provides youth and artists a unique place to experiment with street-art and show civic pride. Dragon School's method re-imagines the neighborhood as a shared culture of art, where unity is strengthened by diversity. We are a multi-cultural, independently operated non-profit. Dragon School is community engagement on the purest level.”
Sage says that Dragon School celebrates “Oakland’s rebellious spirit” while at the same time “creates a sense of joy when people walk by and see whimsical art on their buildings.”
Creating sense of place: at its heart, Dragon School is a beautiful, synergistic collaboration between businesses, youth, artists, and community. Sage told us that this culture of synergy is Dragon Schools’s secret sauce—truly celebrating and uplifting an authentic spirit of Oakland’s Downtown/Chinatown community. They’ve recently expanded beyond Chinatown to West Oakland and East Oakland.
In creating these murals in collaboration with the community, they’re also drawing more people to areas of Oakland they might not otherwise explore. Sharing art in this way creates new opportunities to create opportunities to inspire resident and visitors of the area alike.