The Discovery of Long Beach and Founding of the City of Long Beach and…
Two large-scale murals mix historical, Euro-American painting styles with parodies of contemporary California culture, done in the ancient Portuguese tradition of “azulejos,” hand-painted blue-and-white tiles. From a distance, The Discovery of Long Beach appears to be a traditional 19th-century battle scene of soldiers on horseback racing to war with thrust swords and flying banners. A closer look at the 16′ x 16′ mural, however, reveals a very different scenario. Members of the cavalry wear a Mexican sombrero, a baseball cap and carry a surfboard, while a female soldier carries a “Sale” sign. A wagon wheel lies next to a boom box, a computer, an overturned parking meter and a mailbox, while a blimp hovers above the scene. In the 12′ x 12′ mural, Founding of the City of Long Beach, Birk depicts a waterfront scene with the Queen Mary and CSULB Pyramid in the background, shipping containers piled high in the harbor, traders selling blankets, a kid with a skateboard, and street musicians and oil derricks way off in the distance. Birk was assisted by Tom Barter and Elyse Pignolet. The images in the murals reference the Queen Mary, CSULB’s pyramid, and the oil production industry. While in the foreground, Long Beach’s multi cultural community forges a livelihood on surfboard and horseback.
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