Nov 28/ 2023

Meet Kalani Ware, the Artist Behind the Art Beautifully Displayed at Oakland Arena

Upon entry to the legendary Oakland Arena, guests are treated to masterfully curated commissioned art by none other than Bay Area artist Kalani Ware. Spanning the suite level and visible to the main concourse, past Oakland Arena performers are beautifully highlighted in vibrant art form, hand painted or digitally designed by Ware. The Arena currently features nine pieces on its suite level, ranging from Jay Z to the Jonas Brothers and Muse to Adele, with others in the works.

Ware first started working with Oakland Arena as a sign installer, helping to upgrade directional signage. In his personal time, Ware had expanded his art career with community murals around Oakland. He was looking for other opportunities to showcase his art and create pieces to celebrate community. During the signage project, Ware noticed there were not many art pieces around the Arena and asked if it was something the team would be interested in. A few weeks later, his first piece for the property was commissioned – a mural celebrating J. Cole down a back-of-house hallway ahead of the 2017 show.  

"I came in at night and painted this one directly on the wall; it was really cool and an awesome welcome for J. Cole and a special way to celebrate his 4 Your Eyez Only world tour," shared Ware. "The painting had to be painted over shortly before the next concert on the busy Arena calendar, so for future projects, I suggested painting on canvas so they could be displayed in other locations around the building."

Since then, the Oakland Arena team has worked with Ware to produce many custom artist portraits annually as welcome gifts for performers taking the stage. Each piece highlights the artist's uniqueness and reflects the Oakland community, which Oakland Arena is so proud to be a part of.

"The Oakland culture is so unique, beautiful, rugged, and urban. It's a melting pot of diversity, and I try to showcase that in my work. The best way to highlight diversity is with the variety of the colors I use and with texture and shape," said Ware.

Ware recently created a portrait artist gift for Kali Uchis, who performed to a nearly sold-out crowd at Oakland Arena. “This was a unique portrait for me to create and enhance. The textures of her face and details of the butterflies allowed me to express my creativity in color and saturation," Ware shared.  In his most recent project, Ware also designed a custom work to celebrate Ms. Lauryn Hill and the Fugees on the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill 25th anniversary tour.

When asked where he draws his inspiration for art from, the answer is simple – the creativity of others. "Art is everywhere. I draw my inspiration from others who have set the path before me and made art their life's work. Music festivals, murals, street art, and travel have all been areas I take my inspiration from." Said Ware.

The path to becoming a full-time artist is a lifelong journey. One is always a student and must be willing to put in the necessary time to learn, grow, and craft their skill. "I hope to give back to younger artists and help them grow along the way. It won't come easy, but it will come if you stay persistent," Ware said.  To learn more about Kalani Ware and his art, follow him on Instagram at @KalaniWare or visit his online storefront, where he recently started an art fundraiser for Lahaina fire relief, at

Untitled design - 2023-11-29T074804.045.png