Bixby Park could be getting a new mural later this year that will celebrate the history of the LGBTQ+ community as part of the “Summer of Solidarity” campaign launched by L.A vs. Hate, an organization created by the county in response to increasing hate crimes here and around the country.
The new Long Beach mural will be the second of five murals unveiled this summer, with each of the Los Angeles County districts getting one installed over the next few months. A mural unveiled in June in the Pico Robertson neighborhood paid homage to the Jewish community.
Pascale Cardozo, director of social impact marketing for Taskforce, which helped lead community discussion groups to create the theme of the mural, said the artwork is meant not only to galvanize the community against hate, but to celebrate the rich culture and diversity of the community.
“What does it mean to self-identify as LGBTQ?” Cardozo said. “What experiences have you been through, what hardships have you faced in the face of hate? What does this culture represent to those community members?”
The group is working with Councilmember Cindy Allen’s office, the Long Beach LGBTQ Center, the Museum of Latin American Art and MuralColors Inc. to create the mural.
Cardozo said three other murals are in the works for the three other county districts and will celebrate Black, Latino and Indigenous cultures.
The Long Beach mural is proposed to be installed on the south-facing wall of the Bixby Park Community Center and would be about 19.5 feet tall and 19 feet wide. The Parks and Recreation Commission is scheduled to vote on a permit to allow the mural to move forward Thursday.
An official unveiling of the mural is expected to happen on the weekend of Aug. 5, which is when Long Beach’s Pride Festival will happen this year.
“With everything happening to the LGBTQ and trans community, it’s going to be exciting to celebrate the community in the middle of Pride and show that we’re standing against hate,” Cardozo said.
The Marshall Project published FBI data earlier this year showing that the LGBTQ+ community had seen the second largest increase in hate crimes across all groups (up by 70%) from 2020 to 2021, the most recent year hate crime statistics were available.
The proposed mural shows two people embracing in a hug, but a closer view of the concept shows a number of scenes within their bodies including historic protests for LGBTQ+ rights in the city, an AIDS patient being cared for by a healthcare worker, a drag queen, the ocean and other landmarks important to the LGBTQ+ history in Long Beach.
Long Beach-based artist, Myisha Arellano, was the artist tapped to install the mural, and Cardozo said that will happen in a studio because the mural will be painted on “mural cloth,” which will be glued to the wall of the community center when it’s ready to be installed.
The “mural gel” used to install the mural will allow for the mural to be moved in the future without compromising the integrity of the art. The commission’s vote could allow an initial one-year permit for the mural at Bixby Park with three three-year options to extend the permit through 2033.
Choosing artists who identify as female to install the murals was intentional, Cardozo said, noting that it’s hard for women to break into the mural world, something that has historically been dominated by men.
Arellano migrated to the United States from Mexico and identifies as queer. She has two murals already installed in Long Beach including a collaboration piece at Cal State Long Beach’s Dream Success Center.
Bixby Park is one of the endpoints of a proposed LGBTQ+ cultural district that the city began the vision process for in 2022. The cultural district would stretch from Alamitos Avenue to Junipero Avenue, which is just a few hundred feet away from the community center.
The district is intended to highlight the contributions of the LGBTQ+ community throughout the decades in the city. Soon, it could have a mural anchoring one end of the proposed district.