Tristan Eaton and Jeff Soto Paint Long Beach for POW! WOW!
Earlier this season, artists from all over the globe converged on Long Beach, California in a celebration of creativity. They were brought together by POW! WOW! Long Beach, an event that calls themselves “a gathering of contemporary artists that engages with the broader community in the process and creation of art.” Fifteen artists participated in mural projects, gallery shows, and programming all over the city in celebration of the event that they titled, “Vitality and Verve: Transforming the Urban Landscape.” Tristan Eaton and Jeff Soto were among the roster that created original murals that were scattered around the city.
For Tristan’s piece, “The American Way,” he attacked racial inequality. Drawing inspiration from a 1937 photograph by Margaret Bourke-White, the figures that are lined up in Tristan’s mural reflect an image of disparity. “[The photograph] depicts a group of African American men and women waiting for food and relief in Kentucky after a flood disaster,” Tristan explains. But what makes the image so shocking is an advertisement in the background that portrays a happy and healthy white family. “The billboard behind them makes this photograph an ironic symbol of inequality in America. Unfortunately, this still resonates today,” says Tristan. The twelve figures in Tristan’s murals represent this “bread line,” but feature contrasting snapshots from American history. “It's definitely one of my most ambitious walls yet,” says Tristan, not just because of the subject matter but also for the scale. The wall was gigantic, but after a few very late nights, Tristan was able to complete the huge undertaking.
Jeff’s piece engaged his signature style, amplifying the iconic eyes that feature highly in so much of his work. The pair of owl peepers were expanded into a massive mural, spreading their heady gaze across the pavilion where they were placed. “Every painting is a challenge and there’s an uncertainty,” explains Jeff. Embarking on a project at the scale and demand of this mural for POW! WOW! presented unique challenges that were met after days of application, helping to make POW! WOW! a enormous success.
You can find “The American Way” at The Varden at 335 Pacific Avenue, and Jeff Soto’s Mural at the LB Convention Center at 280 E Seaside Way (at the Seaside Meeting Rooms Entrance).