Located at Dominguez Pizza #2
6176 Atlantic Ave, Long Beach, CA, 90805
The Creative Corridor Challenge is an initiative led by the Office of Vice Mayor Rex Richardson in partnership with the Arts Council for Long Beach. This year's Challenge called for mural concepts that "uplift, highlight and celebrate the vibrant history and culture of District 9 in North Long Beach."
After online submissions and community presentations, four artists kicked off the commissioned murals in January 2018.
My goal was to illustrate how our unique methods of creative expression work together to strengthen community. I wanted this piece to communicate that sharing our talents, passions and personal creativity results in love, respect, and positive growth.
I titled the concept "Creative Conversations". The overlapping speech bubbles each contain a pattern that represents a different perspective on creative expression. There is space for visual arts, reading + education, science + technology, music, recreation, and cooking + community gardens. As the speech bubbles combine, the patterns mix together, creating something even greater than when separate. Surrounding the bubbles are the names of the neighborhoods in North Long Beach - each uniquely contributing to the community.
I started my presentation with lots of nervous laughter and a full acknowledgment of the trust given to me as a new muralist. I had never painted a piece this big, both in size and in scope. I didn't know where to start and how to know when I was finished.
From a technical standpoint I learned through repeated trial and error. I failed and started over and learned when to trust my gut. I learned the visual differences of a meticulous drawing on a computer screen and a 40-foot long painting. I figured out when to focus on details and which "big picture" elements were more forgiving.
But the best part I learned was to leave time for the conversations.
Before I started I thought of this project as an end result. Years of design pitches had taught me to craft a sharp takeaway message that would be communicated as a finished piece. What I wasn't expecting were my takeaways from the process. My days were spent painting but also meeting people, brainstorming together, listening and feeling listened to. Young artists rode by on bicycles and shared their future career goals, and families described their favorite Saturday activities as they walked back from the park. Friends showed up to help paint and to make me laugh when I was taking things too seriously. There were some tearful and frustrating days, but far, far more uplifting ones. Community members saw me at my most vulnerable as an artist and in turn gave me the privilege of hearing what the neighborhood means to them.
So thank you, to this extended community, for the collaboration, love and inspiration to grow that showed me through these creative conversations.
The Office of Vice Mayor Rex Richardson, The Arts Council of Long Beach, the community of District 9 in North Long Beach and to everyone who helped me paint, sent me encouraging notes and cheered me on.
Creative Conversations | Artist: Melissa Flower
Dominguez Pizza #2
6176 Atlantic Ave
Long Beach, CA, 90805
Visit all 2018 Creative Corridor Challenge murals:
Artist: Jason Pereira
6850 Long Beach Boulevard
Artist: Mer Young
6900 Paramount Boulevard
Artist: Guillermo Avalos
91 Freeway overpass at 67th Street and Walnut Avenue