Town Crier: Montclair’s new graffiti mural has fans, foes

MONTCLARION: December 26, 2014

If art is designed to spur dialogue, then “mission accomplished.” Montclair’s new graffiti art mural on the Yogofina Frozen Yogurt building has fans and foes wagging their tongues.

My 24-year-old daughter, who is visiting from Atlanta, says it doesn’t fit with the more traditional Montclair Village art.

Negative comments? Oakland artist Lisa Pisa gets all kinds of feedback as she and fellow artist Night Owl work on their spray-painted mural.

“One person said it’s more like something you’d see on East 14th,” she says.

But a lot of people like it, too. Children like the colors, and teens think it’s cool because it gives Montclair a kind of urban edginess.

Yogofina and the Montclair Village Association commissioned the mural as a way to draw shoppers to a destination with something for everyone.

“It brings high-quality, engaging and colorful street art to Montclair Village,” says the MVA’s Daniel Swafford.

Swafford says before 2012 there was no public art in the Montclair Village commercial district. Now, there are more than 20 pieces of public art including the mosaic planters, painted utility boxes and the mural on the side of Rite Aid.

It’s all very stimulating and makes Montclair more interesting visually. But it’s going to take me awhile to get used to the graffiti art mural. Call me old-fashioned, but the modest tree mural above McCaulou’s Shoes is more my style.

Email bag: Readers have noticed an increase in the number of panhandlers in Montclair Village. “It appears that word is getting out that residents are a soft touch,” writes one longtime resident, who says there are two, sometimes three people with cardboard signs outside Rite Aid and Lucky. Other readers say they are avoiding the businesses where panhandlers sit on the sidewalks. What can we do about this? Resist the urge to give panhandlers your pocket change. Yes, their stories are sad, but what they need are professional services. Please give to the Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul and other local charities that have the resources to really help those who are struggling.

Crime log: It seems that crooks are taking anything that isn’t nailed down these days. But plants? There’ve been several reports of thieves digging up landscaping in Oakland in the middle of the night. How they can work under the light of the moon is baffling, but it’s just one more reason to get a security camera and lights for your home and yard.

Winter outing: Our December rains are creating waterfalls and whirlpools on Mount Diablo. You may want to take one of the upcoming nature hikes with the Mount Diablo Interpretive Association. The Sunday hikes take five to six hours and showcase winter’s best offerings, including mushrooms and lichens and waterfalls. There are two hikes on Jan. 18. The waterfall hike starts at 9 a.m. in Clayton. Reservations at The fungi hike starts at 10 a.m. at Mount Diablo’s interpretive center with Naturalist Michael Marciano. The cost is $10 for vehicle park entry fee.

Got news? You can reach Ginny Prior by email at or on the web at


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