AB&I Foundry Improves San Leandro Street One Scene at a Time
August 12, 2013
From gang violence to economic decline, the problems of cities can seem unconquerable at times. McWane’s AB&I Foundry 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, California.
San Leandro Street is undergoing a spectacular transformation with the city block being wrapped in an elaborate wall mural. AB&I enjoys 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. One of the first scenes depicts this strong history on a mural that consists of a 2,026 square foot, 8-foot high wall that is 253 linear feet in length. Another mural in honor of AB&I Founder Joseph Boscacci is located at 7825 San Leandro Street.
Other scenes include a battle ship from WWII, The Oakland Zoo, AB&I’s manufacturing processes and the multi-cultural people that work at AB&I. It also features many of the team members that have worked at AB&I over the years as well as some familiar faces such as Ignacio De La Fuente who has served as the leader of Union Local 164B and the City Council for Oakland and has been a very good friend to the AB&I union team members for many years.
“Our city is in desperate need of beautification,” said AB&I General Manager Kurt Winter. “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 would incorporate the history of the company from its inception in 1906 to 2013 with scenes that embrace their commitment to sustainability. The scenes reflect the spirit and attitude that has made AB&I so 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 Winter.
As a major recycler AB&I uses thousands of tons of recycled metal each year to manufacture cast iron soil pipe. Nearly all consumables used by the foundry are recycled, making them a near-zero contributor of solid waste. It is this attitude and business practice that makes AB&I a good steward of the environment. They value the environment and work to consistently improve their water treatment, air pollution, recycling and solid waste management programs.
“With great optimism, we are looking forward to this mural 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.”
If you’re in the area, stop by and see these incredible works of art!