POW! WOW! is back with new sculpture fest and 9 artists to paint new works over defaced murals

The sixth annual POW! WOW! Long Beach mural festival is gearing up for its return on Sept. 28 after a year-long pandemic-related hiatus and Intertrend, the Long Beach-based communications agency that organizes the event, has announced its featured artists.

The week-long summer art festival, responsible since 2015 for 94 of the city’s massive, beautiful murals, is doing things a little differently this year with the advent of a concurring multimedia and sculpture festival, Art Renzei.

Art Renzei will be experienced on the Long Beach coast, with contemporary art installations scattered across the shoreline by Tom Fruin, Daigo Daikoku, Wan-Jen Chen, balloonski, Olga Lah and Spenser Little.

The largest of the beach installations are two of Tom Fruin’s signature colorful glass house sculptures that will be installed at Junipero Beach.

In addition to the introduction of Art Renzei, the mural aspect of POW! WOW! will also take a different tone this year with a focus on healing through art.

Nine former POW! WOW! artists whose works were defaced or graffitied in the last year and a half, have been invited to reinvent the murals, by painting new art over the tarnished works.

“Through the pandemic, we’ve all had to deal with the increase of damage and graffiti to murals,” Cassandra Leeman, regional director of POW! WOW! Long Beach said in a June interview.

Typically, the city will have the defaced murals painted over white, but by having the artist create new works, they will be reclaiming ownership, organizers said.

Returning artists include Andrew Hem, Edwin Ushiro, Brendan Monroe, Noelle Martinez aka ‘BusyBirdy’, Bryan Blue The Great, Nat Iosbaker, Brittney Price, Shak Smart and Tang Hsu-Wei.

The festival will also feature special programming including a beach party, bike tours, a scavenger hunt, pop-up shops, artist talks, and more. Organizers said scheduling and other details including the locations of the murals and Art Renzei installations will be announced in the coming weeks.

Organizers noted they are taking necessary steps and precautions to ensure attendees experience POW! WOW! and Art Renzei safely and in compliance with local COVID-19 safety protocol.

POW! WOW! Long Beach and Art Renzei will run from Sept. 28 through Oct. 5. Follow POW! WOW! Long Beach on Instagram or visit their website for updates.

POW! WOW! mural fest is back in September, this time with a sculpture festival too

Take a look at 2019’s POW! WOW! murals:

POW! WOW! Long Beach 2019 finished murals

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Cheantay Jensen is reporter and award-winning videographer who covers entertainment, art, food and culture for the Hi-lo section of the Long Beach Post. And sometimes breaking news, you know, just to keep things interesting.
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