Chris Granillo was born in the Coachella Valley in 1982 and is a muralist, painter, printmaker, street artist, and sculptor. He is particularly interested in folk art, the environment, the human figure, and found object art.
Granillo relocated to Oakland in 2002 to be closer to the Bay’s thriving art scene and because the majority of his family lives here. According to an interview in Coachella Valley Weekly, Granillo told his mother before moving that “I don’t see my wings spreading here and growing in the desert and not a lot of opportunities, so I packed everything I owned in the back of my truck and left. I got to spread my wings in Oakland and it [is] the best experience I have had” (Morones). Granillo is still a successful artist living and creating in Oakland today.
Granillo attended high school in Cathedral City and College of the Desert in Palm Desert. He had hoped to attend art school but was unable to for financial reasons. Instead, Granillo continued developing his art, finding that “you didn’t have to go to art school to be an artist” (Morones).
Granillo began creating art in the Coachella Valley. When he became involved with the street art scene in 1998 and started taking art classes, he grew interested in mural painting. Lacking financial resources, he began making art using found objects and materials from thrift stores, often working on found wood panels.
When Granillo relocated in Oakland, he began posting his illustrations around town and eventually helped form Project Elefont, an artists’ collective that creates art involving urban scenes and wildlife. Through Project Elefont, Granillo spearheaded a project transforming Solano Way in East Oakland into a hub for mural art.
- Solano Alley. Solano Alley in East Oakland, located on Solano Way between 17th and 19th Avenues, is home to the Solano Alley Project, which Granillo created with Project Elefont. What began with a Bruce Lee mural expanded to include several blocks, which artists use to this day. Granillo has helped create several murals here.
- Marin Way Murals. Granillo once lived near Marin Way and has painted several murals there. Granillo told Street Art SF that “[t]here was always a lot of garbage in the alley and I wanted to clean it up and make it more colorful…It was one mural, one garage door at a time[.]”
- Sin Fronteras Coffee, 1601 2nd Avenue, Oakland, CA 94606. One of Granillo’s haunts is Sin Fronteras Coffee, a cafe with a mission of promoting self-determination and economic justice through bringing coffee from Zapatista communities in Chiapas, Mexico to Oakland. Granillo designed a Zapatista t-shirt and partnered with Sin Fronteras Coffee since the Zapatista movement is a significant theme in Granillo’s art.
~ by Amanda Wheelock ~
Granillo, Chris. “Artist Interview: Chris Granillo.” Street Art SF, 21 Oct. 2014, https://www.streetartsf.com/interview/chris-granillo/.
This personal interview with Granillo in Street Art SF was helpful to understand the development of Granillo’s art practice and his work in Oakland.
Morones, Monica. “Chris Granillo.” Coachella Valley Weekly, 4 June 2015, http://coachellavalleyweekly.com/chris-granillo/.
Granillo’s personal website is a great way to stay up-to-date with his current work and events that he hosts in the area.
This page on Granillo by Oakland Wiki includes a list of murals that he has created in Oakland, along with their locations.