Auntie Gaila’s Pictures.

As my “bruh” Malcolm and I both grow older, both of us grow more appreciative for his mom’s art. A beautiful spirit I simply call “Auntie Gaila”; she is an artistic Detroit girl, now living in East Oakland where she makes it her personal movement to paint a picture of what’s going on with the Black men in her community…and to think: me, her son, and two other “knuckle-head- Nigrahs” (as she would call us), stole her car when were 16, just so we could paint the town…

very big wall painting..."women don't usually do BIG ART PIECES..."- Auntie Gaila

Long-story- short : we never found the sideshow that night. we got pulled over by OPD. We car got towed. we walked home in the rain. and we somehow lived to tell about it.

Maybe she saw the potential in us as young men, and the error in our juvenile judgment of a tempting situation… maybe she just didn’t want to add to Oakland’s Black male murder rate…or maybe she wanted to keep us around and use us as her muse for her art…The answer is D: All of thee above.

Auntie Gaila's : you know a Detroit girl is inspired by music...

Her art is inspired by everything from the shape of Malcolm’s head, to the way society shapes Black men’s faces when they walk down the street. However consumed she gets in analyzing the world of Black men, she doesn’t pigeon hold on to the title of “Black Artist”; she makes it known that she has abstract pieces as well.

Auntie Gailia and my bruh Big Mal

But it is the art that is attempt to depict the Black male that dwells in urban America that speaks to me. She paints these depictions with such vibrant colors and uncanny emotion. I feel as tho I know some of the character, and sometimes I actually do…

“you see yo bighead brother in that one?” , she asks me while pointing to the tallest silhouette in the crowd.

Auntie Gaila's art: beauty in the foreground. East Oakland in the background.

Malcolm and I have been road dawgs since 6th grade. We had the same class after lunch, and we’d both used to drool over our gorgeous Reading Class teacher… thats how we became friends: mutual appreciation for the art of a woman. Ha, the things we did to try to get her attention… yeah, that was the start of the rambunctious- boy-hood-drama that me, Malcolm and all our bruhs experienced… And auntie was there for all of it: the prank calls, the fist fights, the homicides, the girlfriends, the run-ins with the police, and she was even there the day both Malcolm and I  got our own cars…yea, auntie has a ride when ever she needs one.

Auntie Gailia's art: the Black male cycle

I know this doesn’t replace the car we got towed, or the cost of the towing expense; but this is a token of my appreciation, for not killing us after stealing your car… and for letting stay on under your roof later that same year when times got hard… and for the artistic expressions of Black men like Malcolm and myself…this is just a train of thought to show you that I think Malcolm and I are starting to get the picture…


6 thoughts on “Auntie Gaila’s Pictures.

  1. Ms. Gaila’s (oops, she wouldn’t appreciate that) paintings give life – there’s too much life taking going on out here…What about the baseball bat she was carrying looking for Mal – bet she was gonna paint his ass that night!

  2. Gaila, Your paintings are wonderful! I’m proud to share your success with the old gang–Lenora, Cynthia, Denise, and Vicki! I even ran into Derek Blackmon recently at a NAACP meeting.


  3. Beautiful, beautiful work, my sista! Remembering that picture of the three of us on your front porch. The love and roots go deep.

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