Photos courtesy of Tokotah Ashcraft.
Local artist Noel Madrid will unveil his latest four paintings at The Allery, an alley transformed by the Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association (BKBIA) into a space for public art installations. Normally serving as an alley for motorists, the space is closed to cars during events such as First Fridays Art Walk on Atlantic Avenue, to take place this Friday, February 5 from 6:30PM to 9:30PM, where Madrid will present his recent works.
The installation, entitled Populated Spaces, is an arrangement of vignettes inspired by various social settings. Madrid plays the casual, unbiased observer as he sketches in different locations throughout Long Beach. The four pieces, created on 4’ x 8’ wood panels, compose one of the artist’s largest projects to date.
“Because of the nature of how these were drawn, the mood is often calm or somber,” said Madrid. “On occasion, when music is the subject, the images take a different tone, full of exuberance.”
The four panels took Madrid about a month to complete and seek to represent the hustle and bustle of the monthly First Friday events, when Atlantic Avenue becomes a loud and vibrant setting for artists of all kinds to share their passions with the community.
“It seemed fitting to refer back to so many drawings and sketches from busy nights around the city,” said Madrid. “If the First Friday is all about getting out and blending with the city we so love, I figured let these paintings be a reflection of that.”
BKBIA First Fridays Coordinator Tokotah Ashcraft told the Post that Madrid’s work was chosen because of his very different aesthetic from the previous artists, alongside his obvious talent for the profession.
“We try to commission artists for each Allery installation that have different styles,” she explained. “Noel has a very different aesthetic than the artists before.”
Madrid, who also works out of a studio at ArtExchange in the East Village Arts District, told the Post he hopes to give the viewer “an impression of the passive interactions of the night life.”
“Unlike a photograph, these paintings build on observation, memory, and to some degree fantasy,” he added. “There is no intended allegory, and it is fully expected that each viewer will bring their own stories and memories to the interpretation. Some will relate specifically, vividly to the images. Others may respond only to the color and energy of the painting itself.”
Prior to Madrid’s installation, Long Beach artist Rebecca Giesking, local arts advocacy organization Squeeze Art Collective’s Katie Phillips and Tracy Negrete and local painter Christian Hernandez showed their paintings on the four, now coveted, panels gracing the south wall of The Allery. Populated Spaces will be on view for three months before another artist is given the chance to create works for the outdoor art gallery.
“Noel has shown at First Fridays many times,” said Ashcraft. “I love his vision and respect him very much as an artist. He is a sophisticated operator and I knew he would be up for the challenge.”