Photos by Asia Morris.
If you’ve traveled through the East Village Arts District recently, you may have stumbled upon an animated storefront, where pale pink lights and dazzling graphics accompany two strange-looking shapes showcased behind the windows.
What passersby have paused their evening walk or slowed their vehicle to gaze at, is the inaugural exhibition of the Creative Arts Coalition to Transform Urban Space (C.A.C.t.T.U.S), A Vision of Standing Rock Under San Pedro.
C.A.C.t.T.U.S, a new space for local artists and the public “to learn, and mature one’s understanding of art,” was opened this month by local artist Jorge Mujica, who plans to offer lectures, discussions, installations, workshops and exhibitions.
Mujica's free-standing painting of a San Pedro cactus.
“I think [C.A.C.t.T.U.S is] really concise at what it aims to do,” said Mujica. “And that is invite local and national and international artists and collaboratives to come in here and flex their creative muscles to create things that would interact with the community.”
A very active member of the East Village Arts District, Mujica once held his studio practice at Art Exchange (ARTX), was one of the artists who moved their studio to MADE in Long Beach (now called MADE by Millworks) when ARTX’s studio spaces were being renovated and even combined underground comedy and art at MADE through an event series, Let the Good Times Roll.
“When I saw that this space was available I thought it was a really appropriate shift from MADE to something where I wouldn’t have to ask for permission anymore,” said Mujica. “Now that I don’t have to look for a venue to curate, I wanted to [have] a venue [where] I could have a curatorial vision and allow it to grow and prosper.”
C.A.C.t.T.U.S is located on Elm Avenue, almost catty-corner from ARTX, next to the Institute 4 Labor Generosity Workers & Uniforms, the Long Beach Depot for Creative ReUse and Dark Art Emporium on the other side of 3rd Street.
A Vision of Standing Rock Under San Pedro is a collaboration between Mujica and artist Rob Brown. The two met at Basement Projects, a contemporary art and project venue in Santa Ana. What followed was a mutual admiration for each other’s work and a plan to work together on a project.
“The storefront windows tell a narrative in an abstract and poetic way that references the Standing Rock monument, which was created by the rotary club of North Dakota and commissioned to help promote the Sioux influence in that region,” Mujica said.
“And so we created this replica of the Standing Rock monument and then paired it with the San Pedro cacti, which is something that Native Americans[...] would consume in order to get psychoactive effects that were similar to mescaline. They were rituals that people looked upon in a very holistic and existential way[...],” he continued.
Brown's reference to the Standing Rock monument.
The exhibit is meant to fully immerse you, and even has a phone number viewers can call to hear an audio component. While the full installation is activated nightly from 6:00PM to 9:00PM, the phone line, (562) 294-6555, is accessible 24 hours a day. It creates a more personal and intimate connection to the piece, said Brown.
“There is value in the act of slowing down and spending time with something in a society that is increasingly surrounded and bombarded with stimuli designed to be digested in split seconds,” said Brown in a statement. “[The installation’s] aim is to create an opportunity for the viewer to enter a more active viewing and listening space.”
Artist Jorge Mujica (left) with artist Rob Brown.
One creative way Mujica is supporting the space and its programming is through a monthly subscription, where patrons can pay $100 per month to receive a Creative Art Box, which includes a commissioned print and several other Long Beach esque goodies. Proceeds will go toward creating a scholarship for future attendees of the art classes within the space. To learn more and/or subscribe, visit the link here.
This month, the Creative Art Box’s featured print by Heavy Gel Print Studio is by local artist Kenny McBride, who will be live painting and signing prints at C.A.C.t.T.U.S. on Thursday, alongside goodies such as a sculptural pillow by Los Angeles-based artist Jayes Caitlin, a Stay Anchored tshirt, a micro-batch of Romeo Chocolates and a quarter pound of Blacklight Coffee.
Image courtesy of C.A.C.t.T.U.S. of Kenny McBride's featured print.
“It’s really exciting because I’m reaching into a pool of artists that one, I respect, two that I want to [collaborate] with and three I get to bring them to Long Beach, and I get to instigate a creative activity that everybody can be enriched by,” Mujica said.
On Saturday, March 4 during the East Village Association’s monthly Social Saturday event, the closing reception for A Vision of Standing Rock Under San Pedro will take place at C.A.C.t.T.U.S. For more information, visit the Facebook event page here.
C.A.C.t.T.U.S. is located at 326 Elm Avenue.