Primary Artist: Tony DeLap
Location: Lewis Plaza
The City of Long Beach has long recognized the importance of public art in creating neighborhoods and building a sense of community. The City’s commitment to the arts has been visualized in public art installations made possible through the Long Beach Redevelopment Agency as well as the City’s mural program, administered through the Department of Parks, Recreation & Marine, which has resulted in the creation of more than 100 murals throughout the City, just a few of which are featured within this collection. In addition, the City has funded various other public art installations including utility boxes, banners, and sculptures.
It has been over 30 years since the initial Art in Public Places Program was established in 1981 for Downtown Long Beach. When the Long Beach Redevelopment Agency (RDA) took that first bold step to support an emerging field of public art, it began to set the stage for a program and funding mechanism that has since permeated the very fabric of the entire City. In 1989, the RDA went a step further and established the Percent for Public Art Program in cooperation with the City of Long Beach and the Public Corporation for the Arts (now known as the Arts Council for Long Beach) throughout the RDA’s seven redevelopment project areas. In developing Long Beach, particularly its Downtown, the RDA sought to recast Long Beach as a world-class City, one whose vitality was strengthened by its commitment to arts and culture. Since the formation of this partnership, the RDA’s Percent for Public Art Program has led to the completion of a wide array of private-sector and public-sector funded public art projects throughout the City.
But it didn’t stop there. The RDA worked closely with developers, businesses and community groups to facilitate unique projects of all sizes. Projects have included permanent and temporary light-works, sculptures, streetscape enhancements, murals, architectural restoration and cultural facilities. This integration of the arts into the community allowed the RDA to make artists and the primary resources in the revitalization of the City and to provide physical, social, cultural and economic benefits that will strengthen and sustain neighborhoods over time.
The historic California Supreme Court decision to uphold the elimination of redevelopment agencies statewide on February 1, 2012, will have dramatic and far-reaching implications for the future of the arts. However, the myriad of public art installations that the RDA collaborated on, or directly funded, will live on for decades. Whether beautiful, thought provoking, or in memoriam, small or large, indoors or outside, public art provides a means for people to relate to one another, to celebrate our collective commitment to the arts and honor the artists who made these works possible.