UPDATED: ‘A Lot of Creativity in Long Beach’ Brings Art Scene to Vacant Lots

Corner of Anaheim St. and Walnut Ave., site of A [central] Lot. 

NOTE: The location of the event, and all Downtown A LOT events, has changed to the Renaissance High School for the Arts, located at 235 East 8th Street.

Abandoned parking lots without even the cracks of old pavement to coat their flat topsoil will turn vibrant with arts, entertainment and activities beginning Saturday Sept. 7 in a two month event called A Lot of Creativity in Long Beach.

This weekend through Oct. 26, local residents are invited to bond with their community among the art exhibits and food vendors that will pop up in these once blighted lots. Admission and parking onsite are free. Ample street parking is also available.

Organized by the Arts Council for Long Beach, the goal of A Lot is to provide a neighborhood art scene to traditionally underserved local communities. It is a process Grants and Community Projects Manager Shay Thornton calls “creative place making.”

“It’s an infusion of art and culture into our community, hoping to create change based on infusion,” Thornton said.

On Pine Avenue, between 6th and 7th streets, is the A [Downtown] Lot. Kicking things off this weekend are piñata-making and Zumba classes Saturday, with zombie arts, pop-up animation and more in the weeks following.

Cultural diversity is the emphasis of A [Central] Lot on the corner of Anaheim Street and Walnut Avenue, where a trilingual program will bring English, Spanish and Khmer language and culture into the spotlight.

The [North] Lot launches Sept. 22 on the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Artesia Boulevard with a drum circle and a performance by the Jazz Angels.

“I think all of us involved all of us involved are excited about creating work for people who wouldn’t ordinarily get to go to galleries,” said Terry Braunstein, the multimedia photo montage artist behind the A [Central] Lot event “Who’s She?”

Collaborating with Cyrus Parker-Jeannette, a dancer and choreographer, plans for “Who’s She?” began seven years ago. Dancers move through the pages of a 10” tall book in a languid ballet-like performance.

Animations by David Familian help tell the enigmatic narrative of the dance, which follows the embodiment of women and life.

Not every piece that will be presented is a spectator exhibit of watching performers dance across the lot’s pavement. Many programs are interative as well, such as constructing bird houses and planting trees.

A [Central] Lot’s samba dance, for example, will be followed by a dialoge. Attendees will get to sit down with the dancers and organizers to discuss immigration of South and Central Americans to the United States.

“The diversity of the program is pretty awesome,” said Thornton.

Several vacant-lot art activations have occurred in Long Beach in past years, but according to Thornton, this Fall marks the first large-scale A Lot program made possible by a $150,000 Our Town grant, awarded to the Arts Council by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA.

Long Beach was the only California city out of six candidates to receive the grant.

[Central], [Downtown] and [North] Lot dates and events vary. For more informantion visit http://alotlongbeach.org/.

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