Intern Jameel’s look at public art in Long Beach!

Hey Everybody!

I Hope your week has been going well! Things have been heating up down here at the Arts Council for Long Beach and I don’t just mean the weather! Everyone down at the Art’s Council has been working really hard to provide the city with stellar programming for the A LOT initiative and top notch educational programs like the Eye on Design Course. Both of these amazing programs are coming along wonderfully and I am super excited for everybody to see them and to participate in them.

This post is going to focus on some of my ideas about Public Art. For those of you that don’t know, the term  “public art” refers to works of art in any media that have been planned and executed with the specific intention of being sited or staged in the physical public domain. This an extremely broad term that I personally feel doesn’t get the appreciation that it deserves. Even in a city filled with creative people like Long Beach, I believe that the public art that is chosen for commissioned display around the city, although making a valiant attempt to change, is still vastly Eurocentric. This shouldn’t be the case in a city where minorities make up 54% of the population and which was once called “the most ethnically diverse large city in America” by USA today in 2000.

This isn’t to say that there isn’t any diversity in the public art throughout Long Beach. Just not enough. In fact, the Arts Council for Long Beach has been working on this issue extensively, creating initiatives, programs, and murals that place diverse public art into a variety of different diverse communities. One of the most immediate examples that comes to my mind is a mosaic I recently saw at Garfield Elementary. The piece depicted the story of the Runaway Tortilla, a Hispanic version of the gingerbread man story, and the story of the Three Little Tamales, a Hispanic version of the Three Little bears. Art like this is important because it is culture specific and tells the citizens of a particular community that their traditions and stories are valuable and not second rate to Eurocentric ideas of beauty and aesthetics.


SO, to conclude this blog post, I issue you all a challenge. I dare you all to change the way you think about art and beauty. I urge you all to look deep within yourself and identify the reasons why you consider some things “beautiful” and others “ugly.” Then, once you have successfully done that try looking at that particular thing from a different perspective. I’m sure you will learn something from it.

P.S. If you enjoyed this post or have any great ideas about culturally diverse art that you want to see in the Long Beach community, then I want to hear from you! Comment below and tell us what you think we, at the Arts Council, can do better to serve our own community!


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