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Michael O’Connor and Carl Auge collaborating with Project Yes and fiscal sponsor East Bay Community Foundation

Award: $35,000 Visual Arts Grant awarded in 2004

Not fully completed by partially realized in 2006

Furniture designer Michael O’Connor and visual artist Carl Augé collaborated with East Oakland youth to create original oil pieces on wood-block canvasses, a photography series, and three miniature landscapes on metal–all depicting streetscapes in Oakland. Most of this work was realized by Augé, collaborating with youth. The artworks were incorporated into Youth Uprising, a new youth and community center developed by Project Yes! in East Oakland.

Michael O’Connor planned to create a piece of signature art furniture that would function as a reception desk and DJ booth for the center’s building. However, delays in construction made it difficult for O’Connor–who had other family and professional obligations–to fully realize the collaboration. A modified version of the desk he designed was constructed by other artists.

The artists sought to reflect the culture, experiences, viewpoints, and creative vision of the young people who participated with them in the project. Their time spent together and interaction with the youth were strengths of the project.

Designer Michael O’Connor established Catharsis Furniture in San Francisco’s Mission District at the age of 22 and, in 1997, opened the Justice League, a music and DJ culture venue in the heart of San Francisco’s Western Addition.  He designed Justice League’s furnishings, staging/equipment, and interiors.  Carl Augé is a painter, new media artist, and underground musician who lives and works in Oakland.

Youth Uprising, an initiative of Project YES!, is a multi-service, multi-agency facility created in East Oakland to cultivate youth leadership and development, reduce violence, improve health outcomes, increase educational attainment, and promote artistic expression and career opportunities for youth and young adults.

Image by Carl Augé