Friday, April 12, 2024

One of Long Beach’s most dangerous intersections to increase safety with four murals

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One of Long Beach’s most dangerous intersections—the Washington neighborhood’s crossway of 15 Street and Chestnut Avenue—is about to become a little safer thanks to a little color, as the Arts Council of Long Beach pays four artists to create colorful bulb-outs that will provide pedestrians with a buffer space and for cars to take wider turns away from corners.

As part of the Art Council’s “Community Corners” initiative, this is not the first time the Arts Council has been concerned about the intersection, a perpetual site of fender benders and pedestrian scares.

In August of 2022, they used various colorful pieces—large boards, posters, umbrellas—to mimic bulb-outs to increase pedestrian awareness. Later that month, they encouraged Washington Middle School students to learn what bulb-outs are while asking them what they would like to see in the murals themselves. Come February of this year, the put out a proposal seeking artists to complete the bulb-out murals.

Arts Council LB Intersection
Courtesy of Arts Council LB.

“Our goal through the Community Corners Project is to celebrate and promote artists with a deep connection to neighborhoods of Long Beach,” said Griselda Suárez, Executive Director of the Arts Council. “This project allows our community to reenvision their streets and engage in art daily.”

A collective of ten artists were paid $250 for their proposals while the four finalists were selected through community voting, each earning $5,000 for their work, which was completed May 2 and 3.

The finalists are:

  • Michelle Dinh, aka Sunflowerhues, is a Cambodian-American who earned her BFA in Illustration from CSULB in 2019. Her mural for the Community Corners project, dubbed “Dreams,” showcases a brown gurl thinking and floating amidst a flow of rainbows, colors and stars, encouraging all children to dream big and dream loud.
  • Ilustrator and painter Fuzz Garden describes themselves as “striving to combine the influences of my city in a way that reflects the unique blend of cultures and styles that make up Long Beach.” His mural, “Soccer in the City,” is an ode to youth athletics, parks, and the world’s greatest sport.
Arts Council LB Crosswalk
An aerial view of the four corners being painted, with Chestnut running through the shot left-to-right and 15th going top-to-bottom. Courtesy of Arts Council LB.
  • Andrea James, known for her butterfly wings-inspired “We Rise” utility box painting at the northwest corner of Pine Avenue and Anaheim Street, will create another ode—this time to flowers—with her “Avenida de las Flores” mural at the crosswalk.
  • And finally but certainly not least, Rebekah Rose, whose whimsical, woman- and queer-forward, body-positive art has slowly collected a following in the city, will be honoring nature and the importance of taking care of “Our Tiny Neighbors.”

Bulb-outs have long been a form of what architects and (some) traffic engineers call “tactical urbanism,” which is essentially urban design and safer precautions that are cost-effective and quick without losing aesthetic quality or utility.

But what is the ultimate goal, really?

“We are here to uplift and beautify the Washington Community and encourage careful driving in the neighborhood, as well as make it a lot safer for children,�� said Washington resident and community leader Teri Erby.

Amen—and slow down, will you?

Brian Addison
Brian Addison
Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 25 nominations and three additional wins. In 2019, he was awarded the Food/Culture Critic of the Year across any platform at the National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards.

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