As you walk down the streets in Downtown Long Beach, you might notice that the streets seem to be a little more colorful than they used to be. The Arts Council of Long Beach, along with the POW! WOW!, an art association, and the City Council are making a splash when it comes to the new wave of public art in Long Beach.
On April 3rd, the Long Beach City Council approved a $50K arts initiative to add public arts and arts programming in West Long Beach. This initiative was headed by 7th District Councilmember Roberto Uranga, who says, “The cultural and artistic murals emerging around LB help bring our diverse communities together and enhance civic pride and investment in our neighborhoods.” The City Council is partnering with the Arts Council of Long Beach to determine which walls in downtown Long Beach will be used for the new murals. These funds are not just limited to murals, however. It will also include funding for additional arts programs in West Long Beach. Currently, the students of West Long Beach, in partnership with Centro CHA, have the opportunity to learn how to play indigenous instruments in the local parks.
Even with this plan for new murals still in the works, you can still enjoy the public art that is already in Long Beach, with much of the artwork being located downtown. POW! WOW! is an art organization that takes after the Native American powwows in the sense that it is designed to gather people together in the celebration of art, music, and culture. POW! WOW! has been in place in Long Beach for a few years now, sponsoring local artists and designating spaces for murals around the city. Dozens of these murals have been created, mostly in the Downtown Long Beach area, with many more on the way. They even have a new app, where users can play along (think like a scavenger hunt) and visit different murals to earn “loyalty codes” for points. Points can then be redeemed for various awards throughout the year. For a map of current POW! WOW! murals, you can visit their site here.
2nd Saturday Art Walk
The second Saturday of every month, the East Village Arts District in downtown Long Beach hosts an art walk for the public. This small section of Long Beach, spanning from Ocean Ave. to 4th Street, and Linden Ave. to Elm Ave., boasts 9 galleries and 20 murals (many of them thanks to POW! WOW!), along with various local businesses also featuring local artwork. Artwork includes various mediums from sculpture to painting, and fine art photography to the murals outside. Some galleries, like Hellada Gallery, are open to anyone who would like to submit artwork. Local performers and musicians are also part of the event, with performances accompanying the art displays in the local galleries. The Art Walk goes from about 4:00 – 10:00 pm, on the second Saturday of each month. The next one is on April 14. A map of participating businesses is available here.
This month, there is also a community art show going on at MADE by Millworks, located at 240 Pine Ave. This is a collaborative, community art show that features local artists in the area. Local artists, both established and underrepresented, are encouraged to submit artwork between April 4 – 27, and the show runs April 6 – 29, with a public reception on April 28. MADE by Millworks General Manager Heather Kern puts it best when she says, “Our feeling is that everyone is an artist.” This is a great way for the public to see all the different kinds of art that is being produced locally around the city. Rules for what kind of artwork will be accepted to the show can be seen here.
Still can’t get enough of the Long Beach public art scene? Visit the art events calendar on the Long Beach Arts Council website for upcoming events. Or if you want to get to know your local artists even more, the Arts Council has introduced their new Artist Registry, where you can learn about the specific artists of all kinds in our area and what they offer with their craft.