Artist Cody Lusby painting. Lusby is one of over 60 artists participating in this year's Long Beach Open Studio Tours beginning the first weekend of October. Courtesy photo.

In honor of May being Mental Health Awareness Month, the Arts Council for Long Beach, Angels Gate Cultural Center and 23 other organizations and artists from the harbor region have come together to present a series of in-person and virtual events and workshops geared toward improving mental health and wellness through art and creative expression.

The series, “Bridging Wellness,” will run through the month of May and features predominantly free educational, artistic and musical events and activities including painting, beading, dance, sound baths and concerts.

“Bridging Wellness” is supported by We Rise LA, a mental health advocacy organization that emphasizes healing through art. Programming for the series is available all over LA County, click here to see more information. To register for local events click here. Local pop-ups and events are listed below.

  • Embodying Water for Wellbeing (May 11) — Led by instructor Vannia Ibarguen, this hour-long dance session introduces participants to a style of dance characterized by fluid movement and breathing techniques designed to express the body’s relationship to the elements, particularly water. In the class, Ibarguen will teach participants a dance designed to “restore the body’s fluid capacity for healing, insight and creative engagement,” according to the website. The class draws inspiration from the Global Water Dances project, an internationally celebrated event that brings together choreographers from all over the world to inspire action for clean water environmentalism through dance. The class is Wednesday, May 11 from 10-11 a.m. at Marine Stadium (5255 E. Paoli Way) and is free to attend. Click here for more information.
  • Beading and Talking Circle Workshops (May 11, 18, 25) — This Native American-led series features a beading activity in which participants will learn how to create a basic beaded rope necklace in a group. Participants will sit in a circle that will also include a supportive discussion on mental wellness through the lens of the Native American medicine wheel, a philosophy used by generations of Native Americans for health and healing. The event takes place every Wednesday through May from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Angels Gate Cultural Center (3601 South Gaffey St.) and is free to attend. Click here for more information.
  • Do Say Gay! Queer Art Classes (May 13, 20, 27) — Part history lesson, part painting session, this series will explore historic queer artists and their work. Each lesson will focus on a different artist, some well-known, and others that are creating work that fall outside of the heteronormative cannon. Artist Lucas Gordon will also instruct participants on creating “identity inventories,” a practice designed to help artists focus their creativity on what they find important, and then create their own works of art. The event takes place every Friday through May from 10-11:30 a.m. at the LBGTQ Center Long Beach (2017 E. Fourth St.) and is free to attend. Click here for more information.
  • Grounded, Stable, Empowered Lecture (May 13, 16) — Lucia Capacchione, the author and art therapist behind the book “The Creative Journal: The Art of Finding Yourself” will be hosting a live online workshop teaching the creative journaling method she created that combines writing and drawing to release feelings, explore dreams and solve problems creatively. Joining Capacchione will be Yullia Antonova, a Ukrainian practitioner in the same creative journaling method, who will help lead the workshop. Antonova will also share her experience using the journaling method to support herself and those affected by the war in Ukraine. The workshop is Friday, May 13. It’s free to watch, click here to sign-up for the Zoom link. Thre is a second live stream slated to air May 16, but details are TBD. Click here for more information.
  • NAMI ENDING THE SILENCE (May 14) — The Long Beach Jazz Angels is hosting the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) who will present “Ending the Silence” a youth-oriented discussion that allows high school students the opportunity to ask questions about mental heath challenges directly to people who have lived it. The presentation will also encourage students to care for themselves and their friends and teach them that it’s OK to talk about their feelings. The event is from 10-11:30 a.m. May 14 at the Jazz Angels studio at 3258 E. Willow St. The event is free to attend but RSVP is required. Click here for more information.
  • Art and Wellness Village: A Day of Mindfulness, Spoken World, Art and Music (May 14) — In Downtown, attendees can check out a full day of activities encouraging attendees to relax and think retrospectively. Expect a sound bath, a creative writing and kinetic painting workshop, an intro into reiki healing and a spoken word performance focused on creating positive results in life. Closing out the event will be a concert by the Long Beach Blues Society. The event will begin at 11 a.m. and run until 7 p.m. at the East Village Art Park (150 Elm Ave.) and is free to attend. Click here for more information and the schedule of activities.
  • Raise your Voice! Write an Op-Ed (May 14) — Prolific opinion writer Pamela K. Johnson, whose op-eds have been published in the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, will be hosting a live stream teaching audiences how to create a publication-ready op-ed by realizing the power of personal insight into story. The workshop will encourage writers to comment thoughtfully on the world around them, which can act as a cathartic exercise or a creative writing prompt. Johnson will also offer insight on how to submit an essay to major newspapers and interact with editors. The virtual workshop is from 10 a.m. to noon. Click here for more information.
  • Word Women: A Hop, Skip and a Jump Moving from Trauma to Art (May 15) — This workshop led by Artist Ja’net Danielo will explore how poetry can be used therapeutically. Attendees will write along together with Danielo and discuss methods of creating art from trauma as a “radical act of mental wellness.” The free virtual event is from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday, May 15. Click here for more information.
  • Here Hear: Meditative Sound Experiences (May 15) — This meditative experience is designed to activate awareness of your physical body by having participants focus on various sounds and how they absorb that stimuli physically. Arts Council for Long Beach instructor Betsy Lohrer will use a variety of ambient and environmental sounds and guide participants toward more mindfulness thinking. The event is from 9:30 a.m. to noon Sunday, May 15 at Angels Gate Cultural Center (3601 S. Gaffey St., San Pedro). It is free to attend but RSVP is required. Click here for more information.
  • Compound Long Beach’s Mental Health Event (May 15) — This mental health event is geared more toward the power of food to help improve mental well-being. Check out a culinary demo by Long Beach Fresh, another demo on mindful eating and gut health and a third that’s all about raw food. There will also be a sound bath experience and an artist workshop by Luis Zavala Tapia. The event is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 15 at Compound (1395 Coronado Ave.). It’s free to attend. Click here for more information including scheduled programming.
  • “Toe Fo’i: The Return” PIEAM Exhibition (May 22) — The Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum is hosting muralist and graphic artist Jason “JP” Pereira on an artwalk of his mural on the museum’s building titled “Ho’okahi” (Hawaiian word meaning “to make one”) that represents a visual story of holistic wellness and resilience. The tour at the museum (695 Alamitos Ave.) is from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday, May 22. It costs $5 to attend; $3 for students and seniors; and is free for museum members. Click here for more information.
  • Bridging the Divide (May 28) — Catch a live screening of artist and muralist Cody Lusby’s film “Bridging the Divide,” a movie that documents the beginning of a project of large-scale wire hands interlocking over the top of pedestrian freeway overpasses connecting cities and communities. Attendees will also be able to check out concept art “that is a response to the divisive world we live in,” according to organizers. The event is from 7-9 p.m. Saturday, May 28 at the Artist Co-op at 1330 Gladys Ave. It’s free to attend but RSVP is required. Click here for more information.
  • Rock for Vets Memorial Day Concert (May 30) — Performing for the first time live since the pandemic, Rock for Vets is slated to play a Memorial Day concert at Jimmy E’s Bar and Grill (2951 Cherry Ave., Signal Hill). The event will celebrate veterans and serve as a fundraiser with raffles and a live auction benefiting the Rock for Vets Music Program, which is dedicated to improving the lives and wellbeing of veterans through music instruction.