Murals are all tributes in a way, representing a slice of culture important to a business, a community, an entire city and so much more. So, in the spirit of Arts Month, we at the Post have partnered with the Arts Council for Long Beach to bring you our October Arts Month of Murals.
Using the Arts Council’s working database of the wide array of murals located throughout the city, once a week during the month of October we’ll bring to your attention five murals that you may have never heard of or had a chance to visit yet, grouped under one cohesive theme and plotted on a comprehensive map. So, whether you choose to visit each one or just read about them, you can find out where they are, who they were painted by and when they were completed.
Read below to learn about five nature-related murals in Long Beach (and stay tuned for next week’s list).
Coastal Passage and Northwest Passage
Photos courtesy of Art Mortimer.
A collaboration between artist Art Mortimer and tile artists Steve Elicker and Lesa Neal, a pedestrian tunnel located underneath the 91 Freeway in North Long Beach, was graced with Coastal Passage in 2005, a mural depicting the hills and cliffs of the California coastline. The bushes in the foreground, trees to the left and guard rail on the right side are done in tile, according to Mortimer’s website.
While Mortimer dates the completion of the mural to December 2005, the City of Long Beach unveiled Coastal Passage on Saturday, January 7 in 2006 as its latest public art project supported by the Redevelopment Agency (RDA), which was dissolved in 2012, according to this release.
The RDA established a Percent for Public Art program in 1989, according to the site, requiring all projects over $250,000 in RDA Project Areas to give one percent of construction costs to fund public art. In September 2006, a 25-page plan for the program was created, outlining the details.
Northwest Passage decorates the face of the other end of the freeway tunnel and depicts a tunnel through a National Park mountain. A bear fishes for salmon, a stream flows and two deer overlook a picturesque valley.
“The mural provides a brief imaginary vacation for the schoolchildren and parents who use it [to] reach the elementary school on the other side of the freeway,” states the website.
Photo courtesy of the Arts Council for Long Beach.
Completed this summer, Midnight Bloom was a collaboration between local artist Jay Blaine, known for his Plasma hieroglyph style, and animal-admirer Jesse Greene. The mural, located at L.A. Market, features Blaine’s plasma-glifs and Greene’s animal depictions seemingly rising from the characters.
The mural was painted around the time POW! WOW! Long Beach brought street artists from around the world to the city, between July 12 and July 17, when over 20 murals were completed in a week. It was hard to tell at times which murals were a part of the festival and which weren’t, but it hardly mattered during a week where the streets were alive with creativity.
“Largest and greatest collaboration I’ve certainly ever done,” Greene posted on his Instagram in late July, with a picture of the finished mural.
Paseo de las Mariposas
Photos courtesy of Guillermo Avalos.
Paseo de las Mariposas or “Pathway to the Butterflies,” by artist Guillermo Avalos, was commissioned by the City of Long Beach and then Third District Council Member Bonnie Lowenthal. Completed in 2003, the mural was painted next to an abandoned lot, an area in need of attention, where the city wanted to create a place in which neighborhood children could safely play.
Avalos worked with the neighborhood to come up with a theme and noticed that the area, adjacent to the 710 freeway, “attracted a variety of butterflies,” he said. The main mural is located at the entrance of the alley, while wood cut outs designed and painted by kids from the neighborhood are placed on fences throughout the alley and on the 710 Freeway wall.
“My favorite [aspect] of this mural was being able to work with children and young adults, and becoming a mural mentor to some of the young adults, so they would understand the mural process, from designing it, to preparing the walls and applying the paint,” said Avalos.
Avalos, the artist who painted the mural in our header image for this series, also told the Post that he has started working on the design for his 50th mural, to be painted in North Dakota.
Southern Steelhead Trout
Photos by Soren Sum.
Long Beach artist Art Martinez began outlining a mural of a Southern Steelhead Trout on Monday, September 12, a design developed by muralist Esteban Camacho Steffensen through a partnership between the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) West Coast Region and the Pacific Northwest College of Arts in Portland, Oregon.
The mural, located on Market Street at Orange Avenue near the Los Angeles River, is intended to raise social awareness of the trout species that were once abundant along the southern California coast, whose population has declined by 99 percent over the last century due to development, dams and water quality degradation, and is officially listed as endangered, according to the NOAA.
With assistance from Bret Harte Elementary students and supported with funds provided by the Eighth District, Martinez was asked to paint the design because of his 20 years experience as an artist, and his time spent working with students. Supplies were covered, thanks to a micro grant from the Arts Council.
NOAA Fisheries worked with the Arts Council and Councilmember Al Austin to bring the mural to Long Beach and has facilitated its placement of adapted versions in Corvallis, Oregon and Ballard Locks, Washington to date, according to the organization.