ArtX Forms Advisory Board of Long Beach Leaders as Expansion Continues

The ArtExchange (ArtX) has created an advisory board featuring some of Long Beach’s most prominent leaders, each of whom will serve one-year terms in order to focus on what ArtX CEO Nicolassa Gavez calls “high level visioning.”

Local designer and art supporter Joen Garnica has been appointed to chair the board, noting that her role—beyond just advocacy—will be getting the name of ArtX out into Long Beach on a larger scale.

“I see the ArtX as a creative center for Long Beach,” Garnica said. “It’s a place where artists, both professional and students, can come together to work in a creative and collaborative center while engaging the community through art… I’m excited for the future.”

Blair Cohn, Executive Director of the Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association, was also appointed to the board. He believes it is time to move ArtX “into the next chapter.”

“I believe my role is to become familiar with all of the programming and operational details of ArtX and then stand at a 10,000 foot view and offer suggestions on how to help steer the ship moving forward,” Cohn said. “Maybe they are already doing the right thing and just need a few tweaks here and there. Maybe we’ll find that more community engagement/involvement is the key. I believe that ArtX just needs some fresh perspectives and we can all offer that to the board and staff.”

Cohn went on to note that there is little reason as to why ArtX shouldn’t be the go-to place for artists in and around Long Beach, including artists hailing from LA and OC. While at first glance Cohn admits that an entire makeover is not necessarily needed, fresh eyes are always welcome.

“We need a few more things to brag about in Long Beach,” Cohn said. “And there is no reason why ArtX shouldn’t be one of those things to brag about… There needs to be new development on that block that incorporates ArtX and the arts community, into the bigger plan to continue to make the location a connector in the East Village and again the arts hub in downtown.”

Other Long Beachers appointed to the board include:

  • Michele A. Dobson, Attorney/Community Leader
  • Douglas Gastaluem, Attorney/Artist/Business Leader
  • Jim Lewis, Nonprofit Management and Consulting
  • Dr. Steven Pakiz, DDS, ArtX Board of Directors Member
  • John Thomas, Historic Preservation Consultant

Struggling following the dissolution of the Redevelopment Agency (RDA) two years ago—where grand plans had been made for a massive, multi-use artistic studio and development center—ArtX has seemingly faced a continual uphill battle in situating itself within the Long Beach creative fabric. Last October, many local artists called on the City Council to end its $1-per-month rent for the space ArtX currently occupies at 3rd and Elm Ave.

However, the organization, according to Gavez, is seeing an upturn, as it has increased its housing of studio artists from two to eleven artists, with space for two more, while increasing the annual number of participants from a few hundred to more than 7,500.

The work of the advisory board is to begin immediately.

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Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 16 nominations and two additional wins for Best Political Commentary for his work at KCET and Best Blog for Longbeachize, a section of the Long Beach Post. Brian currently serves as a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post.