Southern California—primarily known for its sunny beaches, trim surfers, and unfortunate traffic congestion—is in fact more than meets the eye. Los Angeles, the sprawling metropolis and quasi-capital of SoCal, is home to incredible diversity. Whether you’re craving secret speakeasies and underground warehouse parties or major music performances and professional networking, you’ll be right at home. The modestly intimate city of Long Beach is no exception to this; drag queens, up-coming business gurus, and beach-goers alike flock to the city for its encouraging be-whoever-you-want-to-be atmosphere.
Perched off Ocean Avenue, overlooking a lapping shoreline, you can find the Long Beach Museum of Art contemplating life’s biggest questions with an age-old wisdom that beckons passersby inside for a closer inspection. Red brick and glossy ivy, surrounded by charmingly unkempt hedges and a rod-iron fence, welcome guests to their next artistic immersion, where they’re greeted warmly by the museum’s friendly staff.
The charisma and charm of the building’s exterior transforms into an artistic maturity when the threshold is crossed, and the entryway’s wide atrium sets the tone for the rest of the museum’s high ceilings and humble décor. Wooden paneled stairs reverberate through the building with each step.
A relatively small museum, what the LBMA lacks in sheer size, it more than makes up for in diversity. From Antonio Real’s saturated acrylic pieces, to William Livingston’s industrial photography, to Michael Dvortcsak’s other-worldly encaustic oil creations, the Long Beach Museum of Art truly has a little bit of everything.
A particularly enticing painting, Gail Factor’s Salmon Stripe invokes a sense of nostalgia within the viewer. The smooth texture, impeccable blending, and mild color selection are reminiscent of a sun setting behind farm and mountains. The painting’s namesake, a salmon-colored stripe runs horizontally across the image, becoming an intense red as it approaches the right edge. While the symbolism is entirely up for interpretation, Factor’s delicate touch and tasteful self-control are to be admired.
Representing the profound Latin American influence in the Southern Californian region, Antonio Real’s series of acrylic paintings are astounding. Boasting vibrant reds, greens, and oranges with bold black outlines, Real’s striking work demands a moment of study. His painting, The Garden, portrays a river with a landmass backdrop, upon which rows of trees are silhouetted by a brilliant orange sunset. Truly a master of tasteful usage of bright, vibrant hues, Real’s work throws a wonderful splash of color onto the museum walls.
The LBMA is very reasonably priced, with single-day entry costing just $7 (or $6 for students and seniors)—but here’s a pro tip: visit on a Thursday between 3:00pm and 8:00pm or anytime on a Friday and you’ll get in for free. Seriously. Cool, huh? And after your museum visit, be sure to stop by the museum’s connected café, called Claire’s at the Museum, to reflect on the inspiring artwork over a cup of coffee or some bruschetta.
When all is said and done, the Long Beach Museum of Art is a hub of creativity that inspires and enlivens its visitors with its diverse range of incredible artwork. You may come for the free entry and attached oceanfront restaurant—but you stay for the art. Go ahead and give it a visit! You’re sure to have a wonderful experience.