Recently Opened Gumbiner Park Will Soon Be Home to New Public Art Sculptures

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Rendering courtesy of Long Beach Public Works. Plans above by Long Beach artist Jorge Mujica.

Two public art sculptures are in the works for the recently opened Gumbiner Park thanks to numerous community meetings where attendees voiced that they wanted to see the new park incorporate public art and culture, in addition to playground-type facilities, city officials said.

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So Public Works reached out to both the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) and the Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum (PIEAM), both founded by Dr. Robert Gumbiner, with the hope of creating a partnership to make that happen, according to Public Works’ Capital Projects Coordinator, Meredith Elguira.

The department is currently collaborating with both museums to bring contemporary art to the park. Ongoing conversations with the city, museums and key players in the local arts community are leading to the fabrication of these pieces by two artists, said Edward Hayes, MOLAA’s curator of exhibitions.

“[...]I couldn’t imagine a better way to honor our late founder,” Hayes told the Post prior to the park’s grand opening over the weekend. “It’s been so energizing to witness this transformation. Mayor Garcia’s leadership in transforming this little corner is leading to new partnerships, and new art!”

Both PIEAM and MOLAA are each contributing one art piece. PIEAM’s will be a permanent fixture of the park once completed and, although not yet determined, MOLAA’s intent is to start a rotating art program, where every three to five years a different local artist can submit a proposal to add a new sculpture to the park, according to Elguira.

Once the museums have raised the proper funds, the first two pieces to be fabricated will be Fafa by artist Dan Taulapapa McMullin commissioned by PIEAM and Long Beach High Five by artist Jorge Mujica commissioned by MOLAA.

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Image courtesy of @studio_mujica.

Long Beach High Five, described as a “freestanding painting” by the artist, will be located in the park near 6th Street and Alamitos Avenue, said Mujica, who started working on the piece last year, thinking about Long Beach landmarks and “the fresh attitude” of the city.

“Edward wanted to bring a contemporary work of public art from a local artist to the project,” Mujica said.

Fafa, designed by the American Samoan painter, poet, writer and filmmaker
Dan Taulapapa McMullin, is based on the traditional Pacific Islander “elbow-knee” motif, where figures stand with their elbows on their knees mirroring the lower body, according to the proposal. It’s a stance that represents performance, dance and physical stamina.

“From this visual motif the artist created a figure that is a metaphor for Pacific Islander embodiment, inclusive of the many cultures within the Pacific community,” according to the proposal.

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Rendering courtesy of Long Beach Public Works.

The sculptures that were at the park during the grand opening ceremony on Sunday were placeholders, giving attendees an example of what’s to come, said Elguira. Both pieces will be fabricated out of metal once the museums have completed their fundraising efforts. Elguira also said they may use funds from a state grant as seed money to get the fabrication process off the ground.


 

“Over the last few years, we have witnessed a real transformation unfold across the street,” Hayes said. “From my little window on MOLAA’s second floor, I have seen the city make a real investment in converting what was once one of the most dangerous intersections in the city into green space.”

Gumbiner Park is located at 880 East 7th Street.

 

 



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