Photos by Asia Morris.
Long Beach artist Jose Loza has been working for 12 days and counting on a brand new mural in North Long Beach, located at Intercity Fellowship Hall, thanks to District Nine Councilmember Rex Richardson’s Creative Corridors Challenge, where residents are given the support to beautify an area with murals and landscaping.
Loza, a Cuernavaca native who has lived most of his life in Long Beach, is not only a talented painter, but a beacon of inspiration for those interested in taking up a creative passion of their own, a point of view he attributes to when he was given the opportunity to explore the profession. When Loza was 15, his parents signed him up for the city’s mural arts program where he would help the artists manage the younger kids volunteering to help paint.
“I liked it, so I just kept with it,” he said. “I kept pestering [the artists] like, ‘Hey, when are you guys doing another job? I’ll volunteer, I’ll help out.’”
Many of those jobs turned into paying gigs with Loza working as an assistant. Eventually he built up a portfolio and has been working as an artist ever since.
The mural’s meaning is intentionally vague, a series of symbols meant to be interpreted by the viewer, whether it’s the motorist driving by or a pedestrian on their way to the hall. Ultimately, the work is about rebirth, a fitting theme for the space it’s painted upon: a nonprofit organization that provides meeting rooms for various 12-step programs of recovery.
“I was worried because sometimes when you pitch something like that, people are like, ‘What are you tryna do?’” said Loza. But they were really receptive. That way if somebody looks at it they can take whatever they want from it. It’s the first time I’ve tried that on a project and so far so good. People come up with their own ideas about the mural.”
After receiving City Council and Intercity Fellowship Hall approval for the design, Loza started the work. A community day was held earlier in April, where volunteers helped the local artist initiate the wall on the first day of painting, where Loza experienced a come-full-circle moment, if you will.
“I like doing this because that’s how I started,” he said. “So if someone is interested and wants to ask me anything, I’m happy to help out.”
You can catch the artist at work this Thursday and this weekend.
Intercity Fellowship Hall is located at 5881 Cherry Avenue.