Art Realm Paints a Colorful Representation of Long Beach

Patrick Ong
14-YEAR-OLD artist Sterling Molldrem debuts his piece titled “The Lab” at “The World Is Yours,” an Art Realm show at the Ice House Art Complex in Long Beach.

Diversity is one of the first words that come to mind when one thinks of Long Beach. Local resident Brandie Davison aims to convey that in the art scene through her collective, Art Realm.

As the curator and organizer, Davison, 27, selects the theme, artists and venues to showcase her vision and values. It all came together in her latest installment held this past Saturday; the theme and title “The World Is Yours” features many of the artists’ original characters to grace the walls of Long Beach’s own Ice House Art Complex, a six-story seafood packing facility turned creative space for artists.

Davison was born and raised in Long Beach but did not start Art Realm until 2017. She came back from going to school at Clark Atlanta University where she was exposed to life outside of Long Beach. Clark Atlanta is an HBCU (Historically Black College and University), but presented many different types of black culture in which Davison was not familiar. With a different outlook, Davison came back to Long Beach wanting to create a different environment where people could express themselves and still have fun.

“I wanted to be able to buy a drink but not at a bar and listen to music without the mosh pits,” said Davison.

Of the eighteen artists showcasing their work, all of them come from different backgrounds and ethnicities. Davison’s goal was to provide a platform for artists of color and their work in these creative spaces. Highlighting their work shares a little bit of their culture, from the artwork they produce to the people they invite to their shows; representation and diversity are what makes the city special.

“I have some Cambodian friends; I can speak a little Khmer. They’ll come to my house and my mom will make some soul food and we’ll play some dominoes,” said Davison.

Among the artists is 14-year-old Sterling Molldrem, who goes by the name of Silverstreetz. He currently attends Los Angeles County High School for the Arts and was working on another mural at Steelcraft when Davison’s friend walked by and noticed his work.

“The multiple themes in my piece all represent me and I wanted to show that,” said Molldrem.

Molldrem’s piece “The Lab” depicts three different ghastly figures, each representing a different part of Molldrem’s art styles: street art, original characters and a fusion of those elements.

Another artist, Meghan Boterenbrood, has been working with Davison at a couple of Art Realm events. She mentioned that she first exhibited her work at an Art Realm show and was very excited to display her first ever mural at the Ice House, which seems like a Long Beach artist’s rite of passage.

“[Art Realm] is always providing a lot of opportunities for artists that don’t have as big a platform,” says Botenrenbrood.

Botenrenbrood--who operates under the pen name Mara Bubblegum--decorated her first ever mural with a piece called “Pew Pew.” She pulls inspiration from anime to create a vibrantly-colored depiction of a pink-skinned girl with a water gun.

In addition to artists exhibiting their murals and installations, there were interactive activities for the attendees as well as a station where people can participate in yoga right next to a black and white illustration of cacti. Displayed above are the words “Color Me!” with colored markers on the floor. Drinks were sold by Hops & Vines, who sponsored the event as well as merchandise sold by vintage sports boutique Play Nice LBC.

“There’s definitely a lot of community than I was ever expecting,” said Botenrenbrood.


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