There are seven new murals in North Long Beach that are leading the charge to transform the neighborhood.

The Creative Corridor Challenge has been championed by Vice Mayor Rex Richardson (Ninth District councilman), and is a collaboration of the Arts Council for Long Beach and the Squeeze Art Collective to beautify the neighborhood.

Richardson deserves great credit. He knows his neighborhood well. When he learned about the Philadelphia mural arts program, he felt a similar program could create a sense of pride in North Long Beach.

As a result, surrounding buildings are being spruced up, graffiti vandalism is down, and two cities (Bellflower and Long Beach), have cooperated to put in a stoplight to bring a neighborhood together.

The owner of a liquor store saw the positive effect of the mural painted on the side of his store at 6900 Long Beach Blvd. and went further.

“The liquor store was notorious for graffiti and a nuisance to the surrounding community,” Richardson said. “With his neighbors’ input, he decided to rename the store to ‘My Market’ instead of ‘My Liquor’ to be more community friendly.”

The murals are painted on all sorts of large spaces. All had a history of being blighted by graffiti and vandalism. Now, they are bright, beautiful and serve as a catalyst to the surrounding area to clean up and improve.

Images of children are a pervasive theme. The mural by Marcel “Sel” Blanco at 1639 E. Artesia Blvd. is particularly striking. He takes full advantage of a stepped wall.

“The mural is a narrative of kids climbing a big winding tree,” Blanco explained. “At the top, not able to go any higher, they leap off into the air and grow wings, turn into birds, and fly away — I hope it inspires their future.”

On the northwest corner of Downey Ave and 64th Street, Danny and Daisy Miller created a whole neighborhood scene in a style that is a colorful cross between primitive and cartoon.

“A mother shared a photo of our wall in progress with her neighbors and the next weekend they showed up with about 20 neighborhood kids and parents who were ready to help us paint. They had a blast!” Miller said.

Artist Guillermo Avalos took on two walls totaling 330 feet next to the Golden State Human Society at 541-555 E. Artesia Blvd. ortunately, he had help from the Jordan High School WRAP program, Jordan Plus, and youngsters from area middle schools.

Jose Loza offers perhaps the most elegant design, working with a committee who provided the ideas for a mural at 5881 Cherry Ave. The stained-glass look of Katie Phillip’s mural can be seen at 1639 E. South St.

Maria "Mer" Young was inspired by the concept of angels or “spiritual guides” for her work on a wall located on the southeast corner of Artesia Boulevard and Atlantic Avenue.

“One day, a mom and three kids were waiting for a bus,” she said. “The children came to talk to me while I was painting. When the bus approached, mom called her children over. The 12-year-old girl began to walk to the bus stop with her younger brothers, but turned, and quickly ran back to me. She hugged and thanked me. It was the most honest gesture ever and it made me feel proud about my involvement with The Creative Corridor Challenge.”

The Creative Corridor Mural Digital Map can be found at http://www.insidedistrict9.com/creative_corridor_mural_map.

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