Photos by Asia Morris.
On Saturday, Vice Mayor Rex Richardson led community members, business owners, youth, artists, and other stakeholders on a tour of the seven new murals in North Long Beach painted under the Creative Corridor Challenge.
Participants met at Houghton Park and rode on a bus provided by Long Beach Transit, stopping at each mural, where the artists were present to give insight on the inspiration behind each public work of art.
Richardson spearheaded the Creative Corridor Challenge as part of North Long Beach’s “Roadmap to the Renaissance,” in partnership with the Arts Council for Long Beach and the Squeeze Art Collective. Eight local artists were selected to work at seven locations around the area, whose collective work now covers the majority of corridors in the district, according to the release.
The eight artists who participated in the Creative Corridor Challenge were Squeeze Art Collective founders Katie Phillips and Tracy Negrete, muralist Marcel “SEL” Blanco, muralist Maria “Mer” Young, artist Guillermo Avalos, painter Jose Loza and Dog Knit Sweater duo Daisy Rosas and Danny Miller.
“Nine months ago, we issued a challenge to the arts community and our local residents to activate our corridors through civic engagement and creativity,” said Richardson. “I’m proud to unveil seven transformational and catalytic installations that have made a tremendous impact on our neighborhoods. The success of our community’s revitalization has to integrate art, bring people together, and serve a purpose.”
One such mural that has made a positive impact in deterring graffiti was the work of North Long Beach artist Avalos at Golden State Humane Society. Richardson said in the four months since the mural was painted, not one tag has been made in an area known for being heavily vandalized. The vice mayor said turning “spaces into places” is a major facet of the challenge.
“This has been such an amazing experience,” said Mer Young, the artist who painted the mural near the intersection of Artesia Boulevard and Atlantic Avenue, in a statement. “The love from the community was so fulfilling. The murals are well received by children, young people, adults and elders. I am so happy to have been a part of such an incredible initiative and am grateful to Vice Mayor Richardson for sponsoring this project.”
Dog Knit Sweater’s mural, entitled Run, Skip Jump Long Beach and depicts people participating in all kinds of outdoor activities, was inspired by the city itself. The dynamic duo Rosas and Miller moved to the city two years ago from East Los Angeles and were surprised by the amount of community interaction constantly taking place.
“Those areas can be very quiet,” said Miller. “And there’s not a lot of community involvement, and so coming to Long Beach we were both excited and amazed by all the activity, hustle and bustle, people coming and going.”
Negrete was also not expecting the amount of community involvement she experienced while painting outside.
“When I first was granted this mural I only expected to have a few volunteers but it ended up being the whole community coming out and helping out every day,” she said. “So in the end, it’s everybody’s mural, it wasn’t just me.”
For more information about the Creative Corridor Challenge, click here.