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 Long Beach murals honoring women (and stay tuned for next week’s list).
Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo
Image courtesy of Erick Guadarrama.
Renowned Mexican painter Frida Kahlo is the woman featured in local artist’s Erick Guadarrama’s mural next to the historic Packard building off of East Anaheim Street, owned by Millworks Long Beach and occupied by WE Labs.
Completed in March, Guadarrama worked on the piece with SPARC (Social and Public Art Resource Center), according to the Arts Council, to brighten the exterior of WE Labs’ new co-working space that opened in April.
Most recently, Guadarrama completed an indoor mural entitled Barrio Basquiat, a nod to the acclaimed artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, within the new offices of Studio One Eleven and Perkowitz + Ruth (P+R) Architects.
Village Pride with Sights High
Image courtesy of the Arts Council for Long Beach.
Painted in 1992 by artist Ricardo Mendoza and youth assistants Rigoberto Bernal, Juan Espinoza, Phillip Lopez, George Flores and Daniel Moreno, the mural on the Drake Park Community Center depicts the theme “unity through strength of diversity,” according to the Los Angeles Mural Conservancy.
The man and woman of the mural join hands and look upward, as the trunk of a tree between them shows intertwining roots of different colors. The power of education is a secondary theme, according to the conservancy, shown by the staircase of books.
Image courtesy of Jon Hall.
Tattoo artist Jon Hall is a regular of the Broadway barbershop Syndicate, and grew tired of the “ugly wall in the alley” painted with “different tones of grey from graffiti being painted over” all the time, he told the Post. He proposed to the neighboring Irish pub, Gallaghers, to cover his supplies if he painted their wall. Lo and behold, they agreed.
“It’s my favorite neighborhood in Long Beach and thought it needed something,” said Hall. “I've been doing tattoos for 15 years and always wanted to open a shop on that street [...] I figured my art [could] be on that block in some way.”
The woman in the headdress is reminiscent of Hall’s trips to Mexico. Every two weeks he travels there to distribute food and clothes. The woman in the headwrap reminds him of the humanitarian work he did in Haiti.
“I paint the eyes darker and red[...] like they’ve been through alot, but they can be restored, they can be made new,” said Hall.
Completed in August with the help of artist Howdy, who painted the lettering, Hall said one of his favorite parts of the process was “all the people in the community coming to say hi and talk to me, saying how they thought it was so great that their block was getting a mural finally,” and Tim, the barbershop’s owner, strumming away on his guitar outside.
“Basically it’s a positive word to remind people that they can always be made new; there is always hope for restoration,” said Hall lof the mural’s title, Restore.
Photo by Asia Morris.
Local artist Jose Loza's 12 Steps Creative Corridor Challenge mural at Intercity Fellowship Hall in North Long Beach symbolizes rebirth, although the artist ultimately created a design for the viewer to interpret on their own.
“That way if somebody looks at it they can take whatever they want from it,” Loza told the Post in April. “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.”
But considering the work is on the side of a facility that serves as a meeting place for drug and alcohol recovery, it also raises awareness about the services offered inside to those in need.
Completed in May, the placement of the mural benefits the community by displaying the idea of hope as a replacement to the vandalism that once occurred in the location, according to the Arts Council. The title, 12 Steps, recognizes those in recovery and them prevailing against unfortunate circumstances.
Screenshot courtesy of Drew Merritt.
Street and fine artist Drew Merritt’s mural includes a portrait of Long Beach-born actress Taya Rogers. Painted on The Packard opposite of Guadarrama’s Kahlo, the two murals visible off Anaheim Street make for a powerful parking lot and art destination.
Image courtesy of Millworks Long Beach.