Scattered throughout 20 different locations, global artists united in Long Beach last month and splashed the city’s various buildings with vibrant colors. The painting of murals has become an annual tradition in the city during the summer, when POW! WOW! comes to Long Beach.

Pow Wow Artis Tran Nguyen
During the city’s weeklong POW! WOW! event from July 21 to July 28, artist Tran Nguyen painted a mural on the side of the Shaun Lumachi Innovation Center, 309 Pine Ave. (Photograph by Brandon Richardson)

Introduced to the city in 2015, POW! WOW! is an international street art series that gathers artists from around the globe to paint murals in various cities, such as Honolulu, Tokyo, Seoul and others. A Hawaii native, Jasper Wong founded POW! WOW! to promote art and culture in public spaces. The festival enables artists to decorate Long Beach buildings and walls with colorful visuals.

For the fifth consecutive year, the Long Beach community welcomed POW! WOW! mural showcases at locations in different areas of the city, including Drake Park, the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center, Rose Park Roasters and other businesses and municipal sites. This year’s event took place from July 21 to July 28.

Pow Wow Bicycle Tour
A bicycle tour of Long Beach’s POW! WOW! mural painting event passed by an artist working on a mural at the City Hall Parking Structure at 332 W. Broadway. The mural by Gabriel and Isaac Fortoul is entitled “Tree of Life.” (Photograph by Brandon Richardson)

Partners including creative agency interTrend, the Long Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) and the Long Beach Museum of Art worked together to plan POW! WOW! activities and mural locations. The Port of Long also co-sponsored this year’s event. POW! WOW! artists have introduced more than 100 paintings citywide since 2015, according to event organizers.

Wong told the Business Journal that POW! WOW! has received enough notoriety to readily solicit the work of artists for Long Beach. “We’re lucky in that respect, where we have this network of artists that’s global, and we can pull them in and have them be involved here for POW! WOW! Long Beach,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to also work with younger and emerging artists that are still developing their work or haven’t even done a mural before.”

Fourtoul Brothers Three of Life Mural
Located at the City Hall Parking Structure on Broadway, the Fourtoul Brothers’ mural, “Tree of Life,” was one of 20 murals produced during the city’s POW! WOW! event in July. (Photograph by Brandon Richardson)

In the past, artists have arrived from places such as Dubai, Berlin and Tokyo, said Steve Goodling, president and CEO of the CVB. By bringing in global artists, Goodling said that POW! WOW! cements Long Beach as a tourist destination.

Goodling viewed July’s POW! WOW! event was a success. He said community feedback has continued to be positive, noting that he often sees people driving by the murals around the city and taking pictures. “The nice thing is that there’s a large concentration of [murals] downtown, so it makes for a great walking, running and biking environment to see these murals,” he said.

John Matos Crash Mural Pow Wow
Artist John Matos, known as “Crash,” painted a mural on the side of Supply & Demand, a cocktail bar located at 2500 E. Anaheim St., for the city’s annual POW! WOW! Long Beach event. (Photograph by Brandon Richardson)

Goodling said the POW! WOW! Long Beach organizers are already planning next year’s festivities. Emphasizing the CVB as a major sponsor and collaborator of the event, Goodling said the bureau is in constant talks with the event organizers to determine future locations for murals in the city.

Although there is no current indication as to where the murals will be located next year, Goodling said he has been encouraged by past events well enough to know that the next POW! WOW! will boast a “beautiful” selection of murals for Long Beach. “POW! WOW! continues to enhance the city and, in turn, the city supports a really great public art program,” he said. “It’s been a wonderful win-win for both parties.”