Photos by Asia Morris.
The Long Beach Art Hunt, presented by Interactive Cultural Experiences (I.C.E.) and sponsored by the Arts Council for Long Beach, will take place on Saturday, April 4 from 5:00PM to 12:00AM. The public is invited to seek out local artist Jorge Mujica’s freestanding paintings, which will be placed within different businesses and locations throughout the East Village Arts District.
Mujica explained, “I think that people will come through the East Village and they’ll be really critical of their surroundings and they’ll start paying attention to the Art Deco buildings and they’ll pay attention to the Mom n’ Pop stores that perhaps they know about, but they’ve never looked inside.”
I.C.E. is the collaborative venture of Megan Lynch and Mujica who, with this Long Beach Art Hunt, aim to give people an opportunity to “experience everyday adventures through contemporary art.” The Long Beach Art Hunt was organized specifically to encourage participants to view the City of Long Beach with a more discerning eye.
Mujica’s freestanding paintings look like fantastical creatures that might stride away, alarmed by the human touch. They’re colorful, curvy and surprisingly static, drawing attention to their surroundings, as the viewer can see through their cut out, negative spaces to whatever may be present in the background.
“The idea really came from trying to remove myself from a traditional conversation of painting that required a wall,” Mujica explained. “I wanted to consider what it meant to make a painting that didn’t need that. Because in a way, when you’re using a wall you’re also using the structure of the institution or whatever it is that that wall is holding up and there’s always implications in that.”
While Lynch and Mujica hope to organize more art hunts in the future, using work from other artists, Mujica’s thought-provoking paintings, which depend on their placement in the public sphere to make them seem out of place and therefore meaningful, so to speak, are a fantastic grouping to feature for this first East Village Arts District scavenger hunt.
The Long Beach Art Hunt will activate a half mile area with seven site-specific works. Once participants discover each piece, they can photograph the art, upload it to social media with a geo-tag to acquire the necessary points to outline the capital letters “L” and “B” on a map. Participants are encouraged to hashtag the name #LBarthunt to help showcase the East Village Arts District. It’s not just about showcasing the district, however, it’s about enabling people to view contemporary art outside of an institution.
“I think two-fold is also the concept of exposing art or contemporary art more specifically to an unsuspecting audience,” Mujica analyzed. “Because there’s this association that contemporary art exists, but you have to go and find it and you have to go and look for it in a museum and you have to take a day off to go do it and quite possibly the only day that people can go see contemporary art is the day that the museum is free.”
“There’s an elitism in how people internalize contemporary ideas,” Mujica continued, “and so to be able to access this publicly and to be the driving force of something that can instigate creativity is something that really appeals to us.”
The East Village Arts Park, Creme De La Crepe, Utopia, The Solarium at the Lafayette Building, The Breakfast Bar, Broadway and Atlantic Ave. and PJ’S Pet Cafe are the seven spaces that Mujica’s worked will be placed within or nearby, in an effort to get people to look, to observe their surroundings more exactly.
Lynch described the logistics, saying, “They’ll have to go within the business or street view to actually find the art. And they’re going to be in various sizes, so it’s not all going to be huge pieces that as soon as you walk in you’re going to be able to see. You’re going to have to take your time and really experience looking.”
“I think that there’s maybe one small, kind of kitchiness to it, that we’re working within the arts district. Ideally it would be really great to be able to participate in a community that has a very low interest in art,” he concluded.