IN PHOTOS: With summer in full swing, LB Artwalk catches a ride

Chock it up to the romance of summer or the Arts Council for Long Beach’s efforts to turn the once sleepy LB Artwalk on its head, but on Saturday evening in Downtown, I swear, there was a couple hugging and kissing on every corner.

One such couple was very tall and took up the sidewalk in a casual embrace on Pine Avenue and Broadway; they made waiting for an Uber look fun; I honestly felt left out. Another couple held hands and strode briskly across the street, the woman’s heels clack-clack-clacking, running off to enthusiastically indulge in a shared interest; how nice.

Joon the Goon in front of his mural at his first solo show at MADE by Millworks on Saturday, July 13. Photo by Asia Morris.

Another couple (of neighbors) showed up to artist Joon the Goon’s first solo exhibit at MADE by Millworks wearing matching tropical button-ups. One was ecstatic that they’d both chosen palm tree-clad apparel without advanced notice, the other grimaced at his futile attempt to dress as an individual and was likely wishing he could go back to change into something more him. But there was a lot more to this month’s art walk than sizing up every seemingly happy pair of people on the street.

On the second floor of Groundwork Fitness four photographers, including former 1897LB owner Jose Cordon, put on a show Cordon might describe as representative of “the real Long Beach.” Attendees at “Usual Suspects” saw film photos of the familiar urban sprawl and liquor store signage you’ll never see on a city flyer, run-ins with the police, empty roads at night lit only with the orange glow from street lamps—while Poel, head honcho of art collective The East23rd and one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, rapped about his history in Long Beach.

“We’re just a bunch of old guys in North Long Beach that still do art,” Cordon shrugged, forever the self-deprecating creative. Cordon organized what felt like a real community event, promoting the next generation of local artists, in this case, Los Angeles-based photographer Valerie J. Bower and locals Greg Bell and Kevin Seng. Click their names for more info and to support their work.

I missed the ballet and rap performances at the East Village Arts Park for “Cré Day” but showed up with a half hour left to draw on a Post-it Note and slap it on the communal display board. Rushing over to the Dark Art Emporium for the last 15 minutes of Tiny Terrors 2, owner Jeremy Schott was getting ready to usher out the 40 or so people still packed in the gallery, their noses to the wall as I’d predicted in “The 7,” admiring the details. Around the corner at Hops & Vines, DJ duo Las Chicas Tristes had just finished their set for the evening while Rasta the pit bull sat on the sidewalk, tongue out and tail wagging at the crowd of artists and patrons gathered outside.

Valerie J. Bower standing in front of her photos at “Usual Suspects” photography show at Groundwork Fitness, Saturday, July 13 in Downtown Long Beach. Photo by Asia Morris.

“Usual Suspects” photography show at Groundwork Fitness, Saturday, July 13 in Downtown Long Beach. Photo by Asia Morris.

From left: Photographers Valerie J. Bower, Kevin Seng, Jose Cordon and Greg Bell showed their work at “Usual Suspects” at Groundwork Fitness, Saturday, July 13 in Downtown Long Beach. Photo by Asia Morris.

“Usual Suspects” photography show at Groundwork Fitness, Saturday, July 13 in Downtown Long Beach. Photo by Asia Morris.

Attendees at the East Village Arts Park event, Cre Day, during LB Artwalk on Saturday, July 13. Photo by Asia Morris.

Attendees at the East Village Arts Park event, Cre Day, during LB Artwalk on Saturday, July 13. Photo by Asia Morris.

The East Village Arts Park event, Cre Day, during LB Artwalk on Saturday, July 13. Photo by Asia Morris.

The East Village Arts Park event, Cre Day, during LB Artwalk on Saturday, July 13. Photo by Asia Morris.

Attendees at the East Village Arts Park event, Cre Day, during LB Artwalk on Saturday, July 13. Photo by Asia Morris.

Tiny Terrors 2 at the Dark Art Emporium during LB Artwalk, Saturday, July 13. Photo by Asia Morris.

Tiny Terrors 2 at the Dark Art Emporium during LB Artwalk, Saturday, July 13. Photo by Asia Morris.

Artists, friends and patrons gather outside Hops & Vines during LB Artwalk on Saturday, July 13. Photo by Asia Morris.

Artists, friends and patrons gather outside Hops & Vines during LB Artwalk on Saturday, July 13. Photo by Asia Morris.

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Asia Morris has been with the Long Beach Post for five years, specializing in coverage of the arts. Her parents gave her the name because they wanted her to be a world traveler and they got their wish. She has obliged by pursuing art, journalism and a second career as a competitive cyclist.
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