By Eric Kurhi
Daily Review Staff Writer
HAYWARD -- Ben Goulart's latest mural is stark and ominous, featuring soldiers emblazoned with corporate logos moving through a bleak landscape of sand, fire, toxic waste and a dismembered, half-buried Lady Liberty.
Titled "War for Oil," it is one of two works that Goulart recently completed at the Diversity Center at Cal State East Bay.
Center director Jon Stoll said it was exactly what they were looking for when they remodeled the facility.
"When we put out a bid, we said we wanted something political, something involving social justice, or environmentalism," he said. "Some people could be offended, but having something controversial can create a dialogue, help engage political discussions, and that's what we wanted."
Goulart has done other murals, some of which can be seen around town.
There's the Tour de France race through mountains atop the Cyclepath on Foothill Boulevard and a festive Latin celebration dancing across a wall of the Palace Hookah Lounge on Mission Boulevard.
But while not as visible, Goulart holds this one closer to his heart.
"It's something that maybe most people don't want on a wall," he said. "But it's something I've been looking into for five years, diving into finding out who is doing what and what can I do to help."
He said the soldiers' emblems represent connections to companies such as Halliburton, Mobil, Shell and Lockheed Martin, as well the Rothschild family of investment brokers and the Skull and Bones secret society. The Statue of Liberty, which he acknowledged was inspired by the original "Planet of the Apes," represents the dismantling of liberties and freedom via the Patriot Act.
Goulart is getting started on a downtown mural near B and Main streets. It will be a about freedom and peaceful protest, he said, and feature Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr. among the famous figures and include a message in the skyline regarding the status of the world's current power brokers.
Goulart, who has previously done work for Hayward as part of the city's graffiti abatement program, said this one was commissioned by the owner of the building, and he's doing it for a very reasonable rate.
"If I can get the message out, that's what's important," he said, "getting knowledge out to the people."