Photos by Stephanie Rivera.
Expect to see a handful of murals start popping up at graffiti-blighted walls in north Long Beach in the coming months as the second cycle of Vice Mayor Rex Richardson’s Creative Corridor Challenge was launched over the weekend.
Right in front of Dominguez Pizza, where one of the murals is slated to be painted, the vice mayor’s Ninth District team announced the artists and revealed the concepts for their respective walls.
One artist has already began working on her mural while others are set to begin this week. Eventually, a total of four murals will be completed by March.
Richardson also hopes to have a fifth mural to be produced by Cal State Dominguez Hills art students. His office is currently in talks with the dean of the department to formalize funding streams and to agree on a specific wall location.
The first Creative Corridor Challenge took place in 2016—the year Pow Wow! Long Beach did not commission any murals in north Long Beach—as a way to activate the area’s corridors in a creative way.
Richardson noted Saturday that one of the original walls had been tagged 103 times before a mural was painted. Since the mural has been there it has only been tagged twice.
“This is really saving money,” Richardson said. “It’s smart and a creative way of reclaiming our community.”
Meet the artists for the 2018 Creative Corridor Challenge:
Artist Jason Pereira talks about his mural concept titled “To Serve”.
Jason Pereira, aka JP, will be sharing a piece of Samoan culture with his mural, to be located on a wall in the back of a gas station at 6850 Long Beach Boulevard. His artwork will include a pillar principle in the Samoan culture: O le ala ile pule o le Tautua (the path to leadership is through service). On the right side of the mural Pereira will also feature a young Long Beach Samoan woman performing an ava ceremony, during which a beverage is shared to mark an important occasion. Pereira said he wanted to specifically find a local girl who had a malu tattoo as inspiration and was excited when he found her. She is the president of the Pacific Islander community at Cal State Long Beach and grew up three doors down from where the mural is scheduled to go. During his research, Pereira also discovered there is a Samoan church across the street from the wall. Fun fact, his design was voted No. 1 by residents.
“I just wanted to add to the diversity of north Long Beach, and just highlight one of the parts of the community that has been in north Long Beach for a long time which is the Samoan community,” Pereira said.
Artist Melissa Flower talks about her piece “Creative Conversations”.
Melissa Flower’s piece, Creative Conversations, was inspired by the prompt of this competition—to show the creativity and culture of north Long Beach. Flower said her concept shows the different passions, creativity and expressive ways the community is represented. Her mural will show visual art, music, education, technology and sharing meals. Expect to see her begin her work this week. It will be located at Dominguez Pizza, located at 6176 Atlantic Avenue.
Artist Mer Young shares her inspiration for her piece titled “Sending Knowledge Through a Palm Tree”.
Maria “Mer” Young has already began working on her mural, located at 6900 Paramount Boulevard. Inspired by nature, Young’s piece focuses on palm trees and their silhouettes.
“Initially it was sort of based on the idea that California palm trees are sort of declining,” Young said. “There’s no real implementation to restore them and I wanted to pay homage to the palms.”
Young noted that pedestrians walking by as she paints have shown interest and excitement in her work. This is the second mural Mer has done for the Creative Corridor Challenge.
Artist Guillermo Avalos talks about his mural titled “Hamilton Renaissance”.
Guillermo Avalos’ mural is a special collaboration between the Ninth District and the Hamilton Neighborhood Association, which came up with the concept of the mural. The project began a year ago and involves using historical photographs from that neighborhood, including images of children and families, to be placed on a wall 11 feet high and 120 feet long. It will be located on the 91 Freeway overpass at 67th Street and Walnut Avenue. Avalos said he hopes to have neighborhood youth help him paint as they did for his last mural he created for the Creative Corridor Challenge.
The murals are part of what Richardson’s office calls the Uptown Renaissance, a series of projects and developments meant to improve the north Long Beach area. For more information on the Creative Corridor Challenge click here.