Photos courtesy of Pow! Wow! School of Music (PWSOM).
Murals. Music. Community. Those were the simple ideas behind the art and education non-profit Pow! Wow!, founded by artist Jasper Wong.
It began as “an excuse,” Wong told the Post in an email, “to bring [his] friends together and paint” in his native Hawaii years ago.
It morphed to include music and art with the Pow! Wow! School of Music (PWSOM), notably forming the Pow! Wow! and South by Southwest (SXSW) collaboration last March, which showcased a live mural with improvisational live music performed by PWSOM mentors.
Now, the three-year-old PWSOM is expanding into Long Beach, along with some seven other cities.
“What began as a gallery exhibit became a music festival with 100-plus artists painting 70 murals over a period of a week,” Wong said. “We’re now expanding globally with stops in Taiwan, Long Beach, Japan, Austin, Guam, New Zealand, Berlin, Jamaica and more.”
According to the Pow! Wow! website, the organization is a non-profit composed of contemporary artists “committed to community enrichment through the creation of art outreach programs, educational programs and engaging the community in the creation and appreciation of art.”
The program comes to Long Beach in the form of a music school for students aged 18 to 22, dubbed the Pow! Wow! School of Music Long Beach (PWSOMLB). According to the PWSOM’s Los Angeles-based Andy Song, the school will enable discussion between students and mentors regarding music, broadening their educational resources. Discussions and performances will take place from June 21 to 27.
“Students and mentors from different backgrounds will be discussing topics daily, such as writing a theme song of Pow! Wow! LB, special performances, writing music to art, et cetera to complete the course,” Song said.
Students are required to audition for PWSOM by recording and uploading a video of one’s talent to Instagram with specific hashtags, in addition to notifying the PSWOM via email or Facebook. All must be done by June 5. (For full audition details, click here.)
Wong said the PWSOM’s mission is threefold: to “bring people together through art,” “beautify a neighborhood or city through the simple act of putting paint on the walls,” and “educate the youth and become a resource for emerging artists.” He said that PWSOM flies artists from across the globe to cities to expose the local community to the international art scene and expose local artists to a national audience.
So why was Long Beach selected as a PWSOM site, in addition to cities across the globe?
Passion, said Wong.
“This is the key ingredient,” he said. “Long Beach has that in spades.”
Wong said support from Long Beach patrons helped PWSOM become a reality. “They’ve all been gracious and generous,” he said. “That’s one of the city’s defining [qualities]—[its] people.”
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