Equipped with only brushes and oil paint, Long Beach artist David Early is helping beautify a part of the city’s Wrigley neighborhood along the bustling Pacific Avenue corridor one mural at a time.

This past week Early finished painting a 1,600-square-foot mural completely by hand—a process that took numerous mockups and discussions with the surrounding community before he began painting it in early October.

“We wanted to get community approval,” Early said. “We wanted to really introduce the community to the project.”

The painting is located at the marijuana dispensary The Station, located at 1957 Pacific Ave., which also houses Early’s previous work from this past spring, a 20-foot by 30-foot mural inside the lobby area.

Inside of A Cannabis Experience is the art of David Early on the once Long Beach police precinct in Long Beach November 1, 2018. Photo by Thomas R Cordova

The interior mural, also hand-painted, depicts police patrolling a train station as a way to honor the building’s former tenant, a Long Beach police station, in an ironic way. It also features a kaleidoscopic rainbow spotlighting a crow escaping from its cage to a window. The exterior mural is meant to be a continuation of the “freedom” theme, Early said.

Early said the exterior mural reads like a story from left to right.

“We’re starting with the opening of the cage then as the birds are coming out they aren’t really detailed, haven’t really defined themselves yet,” Early said, which is an allusion to the recent statewide recreational legalization of marijuana. “As we go this direction [to the right] the birds become more defined and larger.”

A couple walks into A Cannabis Experience as the art of David Early is seen on the once Long Beach police precinct in Long Beach November 1, 2018. Photo by Thomas R Cordova

Instead of continuing the use of only crows, Early introduces a variety of bird species, like blue birds, pigeons, parrots and a dove, in part to make the mural stand out from the street but also in recognition of the neighborhood’s diversity and culture. Feral parrots are also becoming a mainstay in the neighborhood, noted Early, who is a local resident.

The birds are seen flocking over the ocean, a reminder that the Pacific Ocean is only 20 blocks away from the building.

“[We] thought to make it a little happier, but not like Disneyland either, because in fact this is for adults,” Early said. “However, they still get a sense of family.”

While this mural is the biggest Early has created to date, he has another commission waiting for him at a dentist building across the street.

It’ll be the same old-school process of all brush and no projecting and while the process takes time, including involving the community, for the client it’s “worth waiting for the process to unfold,” Early said.

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Stephanie Rivera is the community engagement editor. Reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter at @StephRivera88.