A Colorful Expression

This project is the embodiment of “send us your napkin sketch”.

Charles Irby

SLATE Art Consulting first approached Fernando Reyes about the public art project in 2018. SLATE presented several artists’ work to the team, and the Oakland artist’s paper collage work was selected as a point of departure for the Denizen Apartments’ courtyard entrance.

Commissioned by Signature Development Group to satisfy Oakland’s percent for public art requirement, the Denizen Gate, aptly named “Jubilation,” was built to last using powder-coated cut-metal shapes attached to a custom-built arch structure.

Although this was Oakland artist Fernando Reyes’ first experience with public art, the piece that he created was reminiscent of work he’d created from a previous collection of collages influenced by mid-century elements.

DEKA welded fixtures to the back of each metal shape at precise locations, and sent all 150 pieces to a local powder-coater to be treated with 20 different colors that had been hand-selected by Reyes.

Jubilation, the imaginative welcome gate that sits at the courtyard entrance of the Denizen apartment, even has its own special tool to add and remove the uniquely shaped plates for cleaning or when natural wear and tear occurs.

“I wouldn’t change a thing about the process— when executing pieces like that some artists end up responsible for the project from start to finish. I am an artist, not a project manager. So, having the ability to focus solely on the art and design of the piece work was ideal for me.”
— Oakland-based artist Fernando Reyes, on collaborating with DEKA Fabrication

When the initial design was presented to Signature Development in 2019, artist Oakland-based artist used paper cutouts similar to collages he’d created from his previous collection “Festival.”
Oakland-based artist’s original design for “Jubilation,” the colorful courtyard entry gate for Denizen Apartment residents, includ-ed over 150 unique shapes and around 50 bold colors. For the final piece, the colors were reduced to 20 and each shape plate was powder coated for color and durability.

Although Oakland-based artist created the initial collage for Jubilation with paper cutouts, DEKA took on the task of recreating his distinctive shapes digitally before having them cut into steel plates for the gate’s assembly.

Read more from the artist, Fernando Reyes: “The design for the Denizen gate comes from a group of very small collages called Fes-tival, which is about joy and celebration. Recently, I was excited to take the series to a new level when I scaled them up to produce larger examples. I loved how they became more like Post-Mid-Century-Modern paintings, with a sense of movement and gesture that surrounded the viewer and filled their field of vision, so it almost felt like you could step into the artwork.

The Denizen gate design presents an opportunity to push this to the next level again, increasing scale even more, and creating an experience where the people really can literally step into and through my work. By removing the background from the design, so that viewers can see through the piece, we hope to create a sense of floating forms that defy gravity, bringing a sense of levity to the solid concrete wall to either side of it. . . creating something that identifies a sense of place, memorializes the artistic history of the neighborhood, and can be enjoyed by the public for many years.”