Mural festival closing party this afternoon in Jack London Square

Photo: Alise Eastgate, muralist. 

After spending a week painting a 30-foot-long blue whale on an Oakland building, muralists Alise and Jack Eastgate are ready to kick back - just in time for the free Oakland Mural Festival closing party today.

The public is invited to the closing party, which will run from noon to 5 p.m. at Jack London Square, at the foot of Broadway, organizers said. Local musicians and dancers will entertain, kids activities will reign and there will be bike tours of the brand new murals.

Nine murals have blossomed in Oakland's Jack London district as a result of the Mural Festival, a partnership between the Bay Area Mural Festival and Visit Oakland. Master muralists mentored Oakland youth, who helped them paint the murals.

The Bay Area Mural Festival, also known as BAMFest, hosted festivals in South Berkeley and Richmond in the past two years. This year's festival is the first to take place in Oakland. It ran from May 12 until today.

The murals focus on social issues and honor the legacy of Oakland's historically industrial waterfront. That's why a young Afro indigenous girl is riding the whale in the mural, Alise Eastgate explained.

"The mural depicts the humpbacked whale migration and the migration of people everywhere. Immigration is a natural right," Alise Eastgate said Saturday as she and her husband put the final touches on the mural.

The mural is 40 feet long and uses mostly blue colors, appropriately for the waterfront.

"With many cultures, the whale is a symbol of ancestors. We see that as the past guiding the young girl, who represents future generations," she said.

The Bay Area Mural Festival sponsored the artists who participated, paying for the materials and the artists' time, Eastgate said.

"The Bay Area Mural Festival organized everything beautifully, to where the artists can just show up and do the work," Eastgate said.