POW! WOW! is now Long Beach Walls; here’s your guide to the colorful mural festival

Long Beach’s premier art event that draws artists from across the world to paint striking, vivid murals across the city is returning for its seventh iteration next week and under a new name.

Formerly known as POW! WOW! Long Beach, the weeklong public mural festival has been renamed Long Beach Walls and Art Renzei Festival. The latter is a continuation of a concurrent sculpture festival Long Beach Walls launched last year.

In this file photo: A wire sculpture, “Emotional Weathervane,” by Spenser Little, is seen at POW WOW! Long Beach press event, Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

The new name also reflects the organization’s rebranding from POW! WOW! Worldwide to Worldwide Walls, a move Long Beach Walls regional director Cassandra Leeman said was to separate the global arts organization from the Native American celebration, which drew criticism of cultural appropriation.

“We’re happy that we’ve moved forward and I think the community is really excited for the new name change,” Leeman said.

In the spirit of change, the Long Beach Walls festival is, for the first time, featuring an all-female lineup of local, national and international artists. Working under the theme “Stand Up,” which celebrates the diversity, spirit and vision of women in art, the event will include 10 muralists and three sculpture artists.

An indoor mural by artist Jocelyn Tsaih, who is one of 13 artists featured in the Long Beach Walls (formerly POW! WOW! Long Beach) mural and Art Renzei sculpture festival returning Aug. 29-Sept. 4 to Long Beach. Photo courtesy Long Beach Walls.

“[The festival] needed to be more than just highlighting women. It needed to be about standing up for women and making it a safe space to highlight their diversity in the art that they create and allow them a platform to shine,” Leeman said. “That’s what this year is all about.”

The muralists will begin painting Monday, Aug. 29, through Sunday, Sept. 4, at locations across the city. Three Art Renzei sculptures will be installed Aug. 29 and remain in public spaces the remainder of the week. Locals are highly encouraged to come watch the works being painted in real-time.

To see the artists in action, check out our map with mural and sculpture site locations:

To get the most out of the weeklong event, check out the festival’s Digital Passport, which includes information on Long Beach Walls special (and free) events, including a merch pop-up on Tuesday, Aug. 30; a yoga experience overlooking Art Renzei installations on Wednesday, Aug. 31; and an artist talk hosted by Worldwide Walls founder Jasper Wong on Friday, Sept. 2.

The popular Mural Bike Tour hosted by Moonlight Mash and Pedal Movement, a local bicycle store, also returns on Saturday, Sept. 3, that will guide cyclists on a two-hour tour to see the muralists in action and also check out some of the classic murals from years past.

Closing out the weeklong celebration is the KCRW Summer Nights Closing Party at Lincoln Park Sunday, Sept. 4 which will feature live DJ sets from KRCW’s lineup of leading female radio personalities, food trucks, a beer garden, live art demonstrations, stilt walkers and more.

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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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