LBMA Opens Doors to Urban Contemporary Art with Upcoming Exhibition, Vitality and Verve

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Images courtesy of POW! WOW! and the Long Beach Museum of Art.

If you thought Masterworks: Defining a New Narrative was a bold step in a contemporary direction for the Long Beach Museum of Art (LBMA), think again. The ever-adapting institution will open its doors to the streets this month as it welcomes the work of artists embedded in the urban contemporary art scene, many of whom are experienced outdoor muralists.

Vitality and Verve: Transforming the Urban Landscape, to open Friday, June 26 in conjunction with the museum’s famed LBMA After Dark event from 7:00PM to 10:00PM, will exhibit “site-specific ephemeral murals and multi-media installations” by both well-established and up-and-coming artists who have a major thing for spray paint and urban beautification.


Mural by Meggs in Austin, Texas for POW! WOW! SXSW.

The exhibition will be one of several locations in Long Beach that will feature mural art involved with Pow! Wow! Long Beach 2015, the city’s first large-scale street art celebration, slated to run from June 21 to June 28.

To bring Vitality and Verve to fruition, the LBMA partnered with Thinkspace Gallery, one of Los Angeles’ most well-known hubs for exceptional, young talent in the “New Contemporary” art scene and Pow! Wow!. 

“This is going to be a very historic event,” said Andrew Hosner, curator and co-owner of Thinkspace Gallery.

This will be Thinkspace’s third time partnering with POW! WOW!, of which the first two times were in Honolulu with the Honolulu Museum of Art. When asked how the festival had affected its urban surroundings, for better or for worse, Hosner said that “only good can come of more education, acceptance and support of public art, especially at a time where art is being regularly shut out of our children’s lives by misguided politicians and budget cuts.”

“Both of those exhibitions brought a segment of the community into the museum that had never been before and also opened up the eyes of many older and more established members of the local community to the strength and appeal of public / urban arts,” Hosner added. 

All 8,000 square feet of the museum, including both floors, will be painted over with the seemingly God-given talents of Aaron Horkey, Alex Yanes, Andrew Schoultz, Audrey Kawasaki, Brendan Monroe, Brandon Shigeta, Cryptik, Esao Andrews, Greg ‘Craola’ Simkins, Hot Tea, James Bullough, Jeff Soto, John S. Culqui, Low Bros, Meggs, Nosego, Nychos, Saber and Tristan Eaton.


Image of artist Meggs working on a past mural, courtesy of the LBMA.

“We have 20 artists coming in from around the world over the course of two weeks,” said Hosner. “[The LBMA has] fully prepared the galleries for spray paint use and are just really letting artists do their thing, as they normally would under outside conditions.”

Each artist will bring their widely varying styles and color palettes to the museum’s walls, but only temporarily. There will be no canvases or frames to be removed and stored for safekeeping. Once the exhibition ends on September 27, the walls will be repainted to make way for the next exhibit.

“Most of the works in this exhibition will be created on our gallery walls using both traditional and non-traditional art media resulting in an immediacy that extends well beyond the confines of a picture frame,” said Ron Nelson, executive director of the LBMA, in an earlier press statement. “One of the goals behind Vitality and Verve is to spotlight artists who are stepping out of their studios to paint on a grand scale using outdoor walls as their canvas as well as urban artists who are beginning to work in a traditional studio setting.”

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Mural by Aaron Horkey and Esao in Kaka’ako for POW! WOW! Hawaii 2015.

Hosner said that both upcoming and established artists were chosen to be a part of this thought-provoking show to “hopefully” change how museum goers view public art as a whole.

“There has never been an art movement in history that has grown so quickly and been accepted globally,” he said. “Institutions the world over continue to open their doors to urban contemporary artists and the next 5 to 10 years will be a very exciting time in art history.”

Hosner said that showing public art can also be used to draw in a younger generation of fans, ensuring the participating institution will have patrons for years to come.

“The simple fact that the LBMA have opened their doors to us and wholeheartedly put their trust in us means the world,” he said. “I am SO excited to see the final product and watch all revel in the beautiful juxtaposition of styles. Also very much looking forward to all the artists connecting again and seeing what new and exciting collaborations follow this exhibition/installation process.”

For more information about Vitality and Verve, click here.


Mural by Cryptik in Kaka’ako for POW! WOW! Hawaii 2015.

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