Couriers of Hope Exhibition

Artwork on mail like this piece by Andrew Hem are collected in the Couriers of Hope exhibition.

In an effort to keep the art scene in Long Beach alive during the pandemic, area artist groups have combined their resources to showcase a new, in-person and virtual exhibit called "Couriers of Hope."

The exhibit — which opened Tuesday, Jan. 19 — features an ode to the mail art movement of the 1950s-60s where professional and amateur artists alike would show off their design skills on their stationary and envelopes before sending them out to a recipient. 

Decades later, salvaged artwork could be found in museums and exhibits throughout the nation.

"Artists have been creatively making art out of mail since the Postal Service existed, but in the early 1960s a group of artists began using correspondence as the center of a new art movement," Doug Roche, exhibit organizer, said. "Mail art was usually quick and inexpensive to make, allowing anyone to participate without pressure."

Area artists were approached by a number of different art spaces to participate in the exhibit, including Flatline, Inspired LBC, The Icehouse x Ink and Drink Long Beach, Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum at CSULB, Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum and Compound LBC. Within four months, more than 80 artists have been able to contribute 160 pieces of art for the exhibition, Roche said.

The Port City Creative Guild, a nonprofit comprised of artistic leaders in the city, recruited those art spaces to make the exhibit an even more collaborative effort between artists and the Long Beach Unified School District. More than 90 Long Beach-based artists and LBUSD students have contributed artwork for "Couriers of Hope."

Port City Creative Guild leaders are Griselda Suarez from the Arts Council for Long Beach, Ron Nelson from the Long Beach Museum of Art, Tokotah Ashcraft, founder of Creative Class Coalition to Transform Urban Space and Antonia Molina, founder and executive director.

"Although the pandemic was the catalyst for the formation of Port City Creative, our mission focuses on the importance of nurturing art appreciation and community engagement," Julia Huang, Intertrend CEO, said. "The current exhibition 'Couriers of Hope,' stays true to that goal and reinforces the fact that art is essential."

Artists received kits, including pencils, makers and envelopes, and were instructed to depict their versions of hope in politics, in their communities and families. 

"Couriers of Hope" will be available online at Port City Creative Guild website, portcitycreativeguild.org, and in-person from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Feb. 28 at the Psychic Temple of the Holy Kiss — also the location of the advertising company Intertrend — at 228 E. Broadway.

The exhibition is designed to be viewed from the sidewalk through the windows of the first floor space and will adhere to the state's COVID-19 requirements, Roche said.

For more information, go to portcitycreativeguild.org.

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