Día De Los Muertos in District 1

I am grateful at the opportunity to bring this vision to life with Councilwoman Mary Zendejas and her Chief of Staff Raymond Morquecho. Celebrating Dia de Los Muertos with an Art Mural Installation was exactly what our city needed to help residents honor their loved ones. Art murals inspire and offer hope, we need this now more than ever as we all struggle to find balance this year.


Jayro Sandoval  | Artist/Curator

Was this your first public art project?

This is the first time I have worked with Councilwoman Mary Zendejas and her team for a public event. I find ways to contribute to our community  by volunteering, organizing or hosting public events or simply staying involved, and creating art in our city. I knew I wanted to do more for Long Beach artists when I met Joshua Garcia, now a good friend. He created a platform to build on through InspiredLBC which put on shows and friendly competitions highlighting an art culture never felt before now known as HelloWelcome.

 

What was your curatorial process like and did your culture influence who you chose as an artist?

I am fortunate enough to know many talented Long Beach and LA artists. Having worked side by side with professional artists has been a real treat, I get to learn first hand experience and techniques. When considering artists for this project I was looking for speed and mural experience, professionalism, execution and delivery, and overall genuinely nice people that are great to work with. These are memories we are creating not just for artists but for everyone, I think of that often and what that looks like in the end and what type of influence we leave behind. As a board member of the Arts Council of Long Beach and a registered artist myself I get to have access to hundreds of Long Beach artists and creatives. My mission is to help offer resources and motivation to pursue their dreams and careers in the arts

What were some of the difficulties and or things you learned for next time?

How do we complete 7 murals in two days? I asked myself when I got the call on Tuesday. With full confidence from our Councilwoman and her team I knew what I had to do. After many group text and zoom calls we were ready to get started Saturday morning. Projects like this can be challenging but when everyone is on the same page it makes it easy. I have learned many lessons as we always do that will improve the next experience. Fortunately for me I have practice in project management, coordinating and events, I was able to accommodate both artists and the city. I look forward to more events like this one, the result was spectacular.


Ray Morquecho | District 1 Chief of Staff

 

How did this project come into fruition?

This project came together as a way to have a Dia de los Muertos (DDLM) celebration safely within the Safer at Home Order. We worked closely with the Special Events Department and made this happen very quickly. The First District is usually the hosting district for a wonderful DDLM Festival on Pine and we wanted to make sure the community had something to celebrate and enjoy. 

We’re all the north pine business owners and tenants receptive to the project?

This project was initially intended to have multiple pieces all over the District, including one in District 6 and 7, being painted on site. It turned out that logistically that wasn’t a possibility so we had to pivot to a Pine Ave art pop-up. Luckily for us, the North Pine businesses were ready and willing to help us and make this a success. The residents seemed to love it and we had so many people stop by, take pictures, talk to the artists, and enjoy the walkable block between 4th and 5th on Pine. 

How did you find Jayro?

Jayro has to be given a lot of credit for the success of this event. He was given a herculean task to find wonderful artists and help with the logistics only the muralists would know and he made it look easy. Jayro is actually a friend of mine from before I was Chief of Staff for the Councilwoman and I knew he was plugged into the Art Community through his own work and as a Board Member of the Arts Council. As we got closer to the day, and we needed artists, I reached out and he said, “Sure thing!”

Where will all the murals be displayed?

We are still planning to spread these around the districts and Public Works is working to move them to their final homes. Two large murals will flank the Long Beach 710 freeway sign, one is currently at Los Cerritos Park honoring the Awaida family, one is moving to MacArthur Park, and another will be at Centro Cha. The rest will remain on the 400 block of Pine until we decide where they will be stored for next year.

Can we expect more of these art related  pop up type events? 

Emphatically yes! Hopefully different areas around the District and in various types of art and mediums. This showed us that people love art and it creates an instant feeling of care and community. We will be looking forward to doing this again. 


 

Art is a powerful, vital tool for community engagement. I have seen all walks of life react positively and be inspired when they can call out the public art piece I’m talking about. I stood around North Pine all weekend, and I wish I could say I got a dollar for every time a human -and dog- stopped and interacted with each piece. (I’d probably be able to afford to commission another round of murals) I believe this is why all art advocates do what they do: it is a universal language that we all speak subconsciously that creates a sense of community. I am happy with knowing that Council offices are taking art pop-ups into their own hands as a means to connect with their constituents. Above are a few candid work in progress photos of people working and engaging. To see completed murals, you will have to come out of the cave and see for yourself and as the artists would say, feel INSPIRED! Huge shout out to everyone involved; Mary Zendejas, Ray Morquecho, Marlene Ramirez, Jack Kelly, Daniel Toledo, Erick Vincent ,Jason Chang, Eric Michael, Kiki Onaga, and last but certainly not least, Jayro Sandoval.

Godspeed,

Ronnie de Leon

 


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