Monday 17 August 2015

Dolna- Art updates from around the world

POW! WOW! Transforms Long Beach, Calif. Into A Canvas For Street Art

POW! WOW! Transforms Long Beach, Calif. Into A Canvas For Street Art

By Contributor- Ann Binlot

Over at the Varden Hotel in Long Beach, California, a psychedelic, monochrome mural by artist Tristan Eaton attracts stares from passersby. Across town at an apartment building called the Ocean Chateau, artist Cryptik covered its wall with ancient script. On East 4th Street, a mural by the French artist Fafi depicts two of her sassy characters frolicing before a wall of flowers. The streets and walls of the city of Long Beach, California have been transformed into an art gallery, all because of POW! WOW! Long Beach, an initiative founded by artist Jasper Wong in response to the dearth of culture in Hong Kong while he was living there.
Tristan Eaton's mural at the Varden
Tristan Eaton’s mural at the Varden
“I started my own gallery from the carcass of a defunct restaurant in the outer edges of Hong Kong,” said Wong. “The very first exhibition was the inaugural POW! WOW! The goal was to champion collaboration,process and public engagement. I wanted to remind the artists of why we paint in the first place.”
POW! WOW! since launched in Hawaii and Taipei, and finally landed stateside in Long Beach last June, calling on nearly two dozen artists who include — Aaron de la Cruz, Jeff Soto, Hueman, Benjie Escobar, Jeff Staple, Madsteez, Push and more — to adorn the city’s walls with their art. Organizers reached out to various property owners across Long Beach to see who would be willing to have their buildings turned into a canvas for the sake of public art. The results were a citywide exhibition that demonstrates the way that art can affect a community.  “What artists want in the end is to create, and they just wanted that canvas, and that scale of the canvas for them is so great, that they just really wanted to resonate,” said Julia Huang, CEO of advertising agency interTrend, who is also one of the directors of POW! WOW! Long Beach.
Fafi's POW! WOW! Long Beach mural
Fafi’s POW! WOW! Long Beach mural
“The artists are a combination of long time cohorts as well as fresh faces that we’ve never worked with before,” adds Wong. “We also try our best to include a few local artists into the mix as well. Both Jeff McMillan and Bumblebee are Long Beach artists representing their city.”
POW! WOW! Long Beach also extends into the city’s largest art institution, the Long Beach Museum of Art, through the exhibition Vitality and Verve: Transforming the Urban Landscape, which brings together dozens of street artists, like Aaron Horkey, Alex Yanes, Andrew Schoultz, Audrey Kawasaki, Brendan Monroe, Brandon Shigeta, Cryptik, Esao Andrews, Greg ‘Craola’ Simkins, Hot Tea, James Bullough, Soto, John S. Culqui, Low Bros, Meggs, Nosego, Nychos, Saber, and Eaton.
A collaboration between Madsteez and Hueman
A collaboration between Madsteez and Hueman
The exhibition, which is on view through October, opens with a mural by Los Angeles graffiti artist Saber, who painted a tribute to unarmed victims of police shootings. Australian artist Meggs, recreated a bullet hole, which shows a graphic of a man holding again juxtaposed against a Native American, which on the other side has a sign that reads “Not the Enemy.” Monroe painted a trippy black-and-white section ideal for selfie enthusiasts. “There are people who support the museum, and come to the museum, they are now looking at art in the streets and understanding it,” said museum director Ron Nelson, who is also one of the directors of POW! WOW! Long Beach. “The same thing is happening with, there’s enough names and a lot of street cred in the exhibition, that people who would never come to a museum are visiting and feeling safe to do so.”

The main objective for POW! WOW! Long Beach is to bring the community together through beautifying the city, as well as putting a global spotlight on the city, while educating its residents about art. With engagement and museum attendance far exceeding the organizers’ expectations, it looks like they’ve succeeded. According to Wong, “The name speaks for itself. “POW!” is the impact that art has on its viewer. “WOW!” is the reaction to it. Together they form a term that is a gathering to celebrate art, music and culture.”

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