David Van Patten, James Carey Commissioned to Create Massive Mosaics out of Old ‘We Love LB’ Murals

MeekerBakerCOMP

The recently completed Meeker Baker building. Photo by Brian Addison.

Several years ago, residents, leaders, and local artists got their mural on by wrapping the bottom edges of the Press-Telegram and Meeker-Baker buildings in Downtown with expressions of their love for Long Beach. 29 large squares, stretched across the ground level of each building’s façade, showcased the diversity of Long Beach while helping the two vacated buildings look not-so-vacated.

Then, Molina Healthcare moved onto the block, restoring both buildings (the Meeker Baker has just been completed) and opening their new offices along the famed Pine corridor.

MuralsSo what happened to all those mini murals?

If you know Michelle Molina of Millworks—the organization behind the redevelopment project for Molina Healthcare—then you also know she is a conservationist. 25 of the 29 murals were kept in storage for nearly three years in a warehouse owned by the City’s Successor Agency (for those wondering what that is, we have a detailed history of what happened when the State dissolved Redevelopment Agencies).

What people didn’t know is that the murals were kept for a very specific purpose: Michelle Molina and Kasra Esteghamat commissioned Long Beach artist David Van Patten and carpenter James Carey to construct a series of mosaics to be showcased in the recently restored and renovated Meeker-Baker.

“Michelle was a fan of the mural I did for the ‘We Love Long Beach’ project and owns a colorful, quirky collage piece of mine, which provided the idea that perhaps I would be the appropriate artist for a larger scale collage project,” Van Patten said.

Van Patten will be constructing 16 large mosaic collages from the leftovers of the previous murals. Three pieces will be created for each of the five floors of the building while one massive piece will be created for the lobby.

“The concept is to preserve the memory of the murals and their images in a curatorial sort of way,” Van Patten said. “I am carefully picking what I believe to be the most creative, colorful, and well-painted segments of the series of murals. I’m not going for variety as much as I’m going for quality. Given the overwhelming amount of material left to work with and the large size of the images on each mural, many segments I’ve chosen look pretty abstract, but only to a point that balances out the recognizable images.”

As for Carey, you should not dismiss him as the carpenter alone, given his own artwork is somewhere between Mike Judge and Daniel Johnston. Van Patten notes that Carey’s knowledge of carpentry pairs perfectly with his own “artistic OCD sense of perfectionism.”

Van Patten goes on to say that he “acknowledged immediately that James was the missing link to the completion of this project.”

The pair will also be working on a collaborative project focusing on creative tables that are constructed by Carey and woodburned with Van Patten’s signature images.

As for the Meeker-Baker mosaics, the project is expected to be completed by no later than the end of this September.

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Brian Addison has been a writer, editor and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food to politics to urban transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 12 nominations and an additional win for Best Political Commentary. Born in Big Bear, he has lived in Long Beach since college. Brian currently serves as a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post.
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