By Brielle Biscocho, Judy Estrada, and Janelle Reyes

POW! WOW! is a series of street art events that takes place in cities all over the globe. This is the fourth year Long Beach participated with their annual mural festival. We met the local artists on-site to hear about their background and their work inspirations.

Tatiana Velazquez (Baked Papaya) is a local muralist. Public art is important to her as it beautifies the city and is exciting for the neighborhood. She has helped out on other POW! WOW! works including the one by Dave Van Patten at Alex’s Bar. This is her favorite as it honors one of their friends Ikey Owens, a Long Beach keyboardist who passed away in 2014. If she could travel to participate in another POW! WOW! event she’d pick Japan since she enjoyed her first visit there as a kid. Her hobbies include gardening, cooking, and writing. She believes there is an art to everything and it makes them even more enjoyable.

Velaquez says her inspiration for this mural was “aliens and other worldly things that pop out”. It can be seen at Ashley’s Bar on 4th Street.

Jason Keam is an artist who grew up in Long Beach. Some of his favorite past POW! WOW! works include the ones by James Jean and Low Bros. He also enjoyed his experience helping Kevin Lyons on his mural. Keam enjoys that public art speaks to everybody and is owned by whoever walks by it. There can be several different meanings and it can be seen at any time of day. His 2018 mural is inspired by an inside joke and how small cities usually define people by the schools they attended. The characters of the mural are all high school mascots and represent the progression of those growing up in Long Beach.

Keam wants to remind people that “Whatever you decide to do with your life whether it’s painting or ‘I want to be a lawyer’ or ‘I want to be a doctor’ like keep on running for it and eventually you’ll get there”. His mural can be seen on the back of the Expo Arts Center on Atlantic Ave.

Joon the Goon (Juan Alvarado) has contributed to past POW! WOW! events. His favorite muralist is his friend and former Art Center classmate Andrew Hem. He is open to traveling to any international POW! WOW! event with his top choice being Japan. A fact his friends find surprising about him is that he is a huge comic book nerd, with Watchmen being his favorite. Joon believes when artists are able to voice and express their ideas through public spaces, it gauges the health and wealth of a society.

His latest work displays the concept how we’re all dying slowly, so we might as well have a good time. Joon notes that “The parachuters are landing to their death–their parachutes have holes in them, but they are still smiling and laughing”. This work can be seen at the Ice House on Anaheim St.

Sun Draws (Shane Sun) is another Long Beach local muralist who participated in this years Pow Wow. He has had so many friends create murals for Pow Wow. He cites the Wyland mural as his favorite mural in Long Beach because it is so iconic. If he could travel to another Pow Wow it would be “Japan for sure!”,the Japanese culture values art and he would very much like to experience that . His soundtrack for this year’s Pow Wow Long Beach was mainly jazz instrumentals from the likes of Roy Ayres, Sun Ra, Esperanza Spaulding, and Tank and the Bangas.

Sun drew inspiration for his mural Empathy as Survival from the idea that in order to live the human race relies on trust and cooperation with people doing amazing things together. The concept here is “what happens when our palms come together?” It can be seen at Wide Eye Opens Palms on Cherry Ave.

Ms. Yellow completed her mural using 33 colors!  She has so many favorite past murals but her ultimate favorite is the Wyland mural that she grew up seeing. The Wyland mural meant so much to her, showing her that it is doable.  She would love to participate in Pow Wow Japan. In the 3rd grade she did a book report on Japan and did so much research that it really left an impression on her, even stating on her report “one day I will visit Japan”.Public art is important to her because it broadens the mind, it changes your emotion, she got in to art because what it did to her as a child. “You look at art and everything changes, you are immersed in color and the colors you are surrounded by can affect you in a positive way

Inspiration for this mural came from daily life, and her upbringing. “Its finding peace in a sea of madness”.  The work can be seen at Sacred Roots on E. Broadway.

Photos taken by Brielle Biscocho, Elizabeth Munzon and deityart.