Artists are using corporate buildings in Downtown Long Beach as their canvases at the fourth annual Pow! Wow! Mural Festival, which began Sunday.
The city is definitely behind the event, with Mayor Robert Garcia having supported the program since its creation in 2015. But the Pow! Wow! is actually part of a nationwide celebration of art as a way to modernize and beautify communities.
“Each year we bring together about 20 artists to beautify the city,” says Pow! Wow! Long Beach Operations Director Tokotah Ashcraft. “We have over 100 volunteers who signed up to help us this year. Bicycle mural tours are hosted almost every day and lunches are provided to artists by local restaurants.”
Different artists well known and obscure are featured along with their artwork as a way to celebrate their creativity throughout the entire eight-day festival. Among them is Jay Howell, who is the original creator of Bob’s Burgers and is the art director-producer and writer of the Nickelodeon hit show Sanjay and Craig.
Compared to the previous Pow! Wow! Mural Festivals, this year’s includes more art and more art installations covering 40 square miles of Long Beach.
“We have a lot of talented females in the lineup this year, which is something I am proud of and I think our event lineup at night has a lot of different elements,” Ashcraft said. “We have everything from a free screening of the [recent] Basquiat documentary on the beach, to a talk with Jay Howell … to an art show curated by Thinkspace. Each night is really different.”
Running through Sunday, July 28, the event opened July 21 with ThinkSpace featuring the mural from Crash One along with two art installations from the artists Balloonski and Spencer Little curated in collaboration with Hex and Bevel.
Starting at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Belmont Shores, Movies on the Beach presents Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Sara Driver’s 2017 documentary on the celebrated American artist’s pre-fame years. Bring blankets and refreshments to the free screening.
A new feature this year is an exhibition from the students at the School of Photography.
KRCW hosts a dance party Saturday featuring the station’s DJs Anthony Valadez and Mathieu Schreyer. Attendees can also enjoy food and drink served by Long Beach eateries, with Beachwood BBQ providing beer on tap and choice wines served by Hops & Vines.
On Sunday, a 21+ pool party is held from noon to 6 p.m. at the Renaissance Hotel in Long Beach.
Mural tours held throughout the festival are aimed at those interested in learning more about the multitude of artists and their artworks.
“It isn’t just painting walls,” Ashcraft says. “It’s bringing our community closer together. We are helping create an experience for everyday life.”
The event is put on by contributions from KCRW, the Downtown Long Beach Alliance, the Long Beach Public Works Department, the City of Long Beach, the Long Beach Convention Center, the Port of Long Beach and Intertrend.
For the full event schedule and for more information about the event visit the Pow! Wow! Long Beach website.