Pow! Wow! Long Beach 2015 Photo Recap

Last weeks Pow! Wow! event in Long Beach has been an amazing experience. This was my first time attending Pow! Wow! and working as one of the directors. With the whole city involved as well as volunteers coming from other cities, it shows how much work goes into this art festival. Whether it was picking up supplies or buffing the walls for the artists, I met some pretty amazing people along the way. We had artists come from all over the world such as Fafi from Paris and Low Bros from Berlin. Everyone was super friendly and I was able to chat with artists I always looked up to on our down time. This is something I will cherish for the rest of my life and hope to create new experiences in the near future. Thank you to everyone who made it possible to bring Pow! Wow! to Long Beach.

Photo by: Calvin Nakamaru

Hello from Pow! Wow! Long Beach


Of course this is a blog for Imprint, a group of people that had everything to do with bringing Pow! Wow! to Long Beach and really made the wheels roll once it came along. But I can’t claim any responsibility or take any credit for the event. Kudos go to Julia (above, left), Tanya, Jeff, John, Calvin, and so many others for making it happen. I attended as a tourist and fan, starting with last week’s media kickoff event outside the Varden Hotel with remarks by Julia, Mayor Robert Garcia (above, lower center), and Ron Nelson (above, lower right) from the Long Beach Museum of Art. The Honolulu-based founders of Pow! Wow! and contributors James Jean and Jeff McMillan also talked about the idea of having artists converge on the city for a week of mural painting.


James Jean (above, center) admitted that one thing he enjoys about making art is that it’s antisocial. He appreciates the solitude. But making murals in public has been an artistic and personal challenge that he has embraced, and the front portion graciously provided by the Varden provided ample inspiration. Meanwhile, Jeff McMillan (above, left, and below) was the event’s sole Long Beach-based artist. I got to hang out with him and some of his affable crew when they just began work on the back of the Long Beach Convention Center last Tuesday, and returned yesterday to check out the completed piece. It’s stunning and I love that you can see one of Wyland’s Whaling Walls over at the Long Beach Arena in the same glance.


The Low Bros and Jeff Soto embellished walls on the opposite side of the convention center. I managed to miss them but was stoked to discover that they were assigned to a key spot for local skateboarders and flatland BMXers. Awesome to know that the works will be appreciated! One of the underlying ideas behind Pow! Wow! is sharing art that does not require admission, ownership, or membership. Anyone and everyone can see and appreciate the pieces that go up, and it’s perfect that skaters and bikers will dig these trippy pieces first because the appreciation of art (especially street art) has always trickled up.


Last Wednesday night, I attended the sold-out Fafi appearance at the Art Theatre. There, I briefly met Jasper Wong, Kamea Hadar, and other representatives of the Pow! Wow! crew, who were all very sociable. Their mission of bringing art to public places is a sincere labor of love and an awesome force for pushing culture in a positive direction. I also love how it brings different creative people together from different continents to improve a community and inspire future creativity in it. But back to the event. The talk with Fafi was conducted by Imprint’s own Jeffrey Ng/jeffstaple, and was lively and fun. The French artist described her expansion from graffiti artist to fashion collaborator to comic book creator to festival launcher. It went by so breezily and quickly that there was no time for a Q&A with the audience.


Yesterday morning, I checked out Fafi’s installation at Lyon’s Art Supplies (ex-home of SST Records!), as well was Aaron De La Cruz’s treatment at the Park[d] Plaza right next door. At the intersection outside Fingerprints and Berlin, I noticed pedestrians and motorists stopping to see the new, colorful works. Success!


Numerous pieces weren’t done yet, so it’s quite possible you can see still see works in progress even today. When my daughter and I stopped at the Varden, we saw Tristan Eaton hard at work and so did a family that was strapping an infant into a stroller and getting ready to tour the Pow! Wow! murals on a hot summer day. It was the first time off the driver could get since Imprint started, and he was stoked to see the art and artists, too.


I told him that Cryptik (below) was still on the loose, as well, and that the group show at LBMA was just getting going. Vitality and Verve features Pow! Wow! artists Cryptik, Jeff Soto, Low Bros, Meggs, and Tristan Eaton as well as many others such as Andrew Schoultz, Audrey Kawasaki, Brandon Shigeta, and Brendan Monroe. I missed the opening but dropped in on the installation and it already looked amazing.


For a complete map of murals, go to powwowlongbeach.com. A full description of Vitality and Verve is available at lbma.org. Visit the Long Beach Museum of Art at 2300 East Ocean Blvd. in Long Beach from Thursday through Sunday. Props to Ron and the museum staff as well as everyone at Pow! Wow!, Thinkspace Gallery, Imprint, and Pow Wow! for making all the events happen. All the sponsors, too, because no one is getting rich off of all the hard work going on–especially the artists. But in addition to making Long Beach more interesting, they create civic pride and change the way people see the city. As a parent, I love being able to take my 7-year-old old daughter to see many of the events because it builds on her perception of what art is and what everyone’s relationship with it can be. It’s for everyone, everywhere. And sometimes it can be cool.


To stay in the loop regarding future events such as Pow! Wow! Long Beach or talks at the Art Theatre, follow Imprint on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, too.

8 Questions with: Ursula Liang

Ursula Liang is a journalist who cleverly saw the writing on the wall before the decline of the print world. She was right on time to pivot into filmmaking, thus getting a head-start on the journalism medium of the future (in my opinion, anyway). 9-Man is her documentary film about an 80-year-old Asian American sport, allowing her to fight Asian American representational issues with real, dynamic, and nuanced storytelling. She shot, produced, and directed the film herself, and had some help from a team. 9-Man received a standing ovation during IFF Boston and it was recently featured on TV too – allowing Ursula to reach even more unexpected new audiences. If you’re interested in learning more you can follow Ursula on Instagram and Twitter, and you can follow the documentary on Instagram and Twitter too.


What are you currently working on?
I just finished a documentary about a streetball battle in the heart of Chinatown called 9-Man and I am working to distribute it. I’m also in pre-production on too many ideas for a next film, trying to decide which I feel passionate enough about to carry me thorough the struggle of making a second doc.

How would you describe your job?
It’s exciting, chaotic, boring and rewarding all at once. Most people don’t know how much mania and minutiae go into making a film, but having intimate access to stories is unbeatable.

What does your average work day look like?
I often work a split day. I wake up late, work, then head out to whatever networking event, social activity needs attending, then I come home and start working again late at night. When I’m in production it’s a different story and very variable.

What’s the best thing about living and working in NY?
Hui mei noodles, sample sales, the 24-hour subway system, and the high concentration of filmmakers who are willing to lend you gear.

Where do you find inspiration?
I am not an inspiration snob. I troll social media, bad television, dirty streets for ideas. Things that stand out in those spaces are always worth considering.
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grow up?
A florist or a veterinarian.

What are you reading at the moment?
Dogeaters by Jessica Hagedorn.

What’s your favorite post-work destination?

Are we there yet?!


We all love Ball Jars and a reason to love them more is that a subsidiary of the company we love happens to have a camera heading to pluto that will give us the highest resolution image of pluto yet. Ball’s Ralph imager, as it’s called will be flying by Pluto around July 14th and will be beaming back hi-res photos of the planet. Are you ready? check out the video describing what we’ll be seeing after July 14th.

Yosemite rocks

yosemite1-tunnel view

Just got back from a family trip to Yosemite. I’m not going to pretend to be a real outdoorsman, rock climber, or even a camper. We stayed at the Wawona Hotel, which looks more like something from a Wes Anderson movie than Harry and the Hendersons. But it was still a huge change of scenery and chance to reset for us city folk. (Above: Tunnel View of Half Dome welcomes emerging motorists.)


One of the nice things about Yosemite is that it can be enjoyed by hardcore nature enthusiasts who want to go on multi-day hikes and bury their poop or glampers who prefer four-star hotels. My family leaned toward the latter, and our hikes were more like strolls since we had a gang of children and even an infant with us. But even sticking to the most basic paths, we were rewarded with plenty of solitude and iconic views that inspired the likes of Thomas Ayres, Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Hill, and Ansel Adams. (Above, clockwise from top left: Mirror Lake Hike, Tenaya Creek, Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls, Mirror Lake).

yosemite3It’s so easy to be mesmerized by the sweeping landscapes, painterly vistas, and dramatic upward views in the valley that one can forget to look at the details. But even the most common items, like trees, have natural textures and camouflage that leave streetwear versions in the dust. (Above: Ponderosa Pine on the Lower Yosemite Fall Trail.)


I’ll admit that many of my favorite aspects of Yosemite are made by humans. Taking the free shuttles around the valley is super convenient, but riding bikes is faster and way more fun. Even for us bike novices, cycling through fields and forests is dreamlike and well-worth lugging up all your gear. The Ahwahnee Hotel is also a must-visit for followers of the Arts & Crafts style and fans of The Shining alike. I appreciate old-school, non-ironic touristy stuff like the Indian Village of the Ahwahnee, too. (Above, clockwise from top left: Bike trail to the Ahwahnee Hotel, Ahwahnee Dining Room, Indian Village of the Ahwahnee, Ahwahnee Great Lounge.)


But, of course, it’s nature that makes Yosemite sublime: killer views of Half Dome from pretty much anywhere, seeing deer hanging out unafraid and oblivious to us humans who are respectfully freaking out, morning walks on fire roads just 100 yards away from the hotel, and massive trees at the Mariposa Grove–which we got to stroll through just before the area is shut off to the public for refurbishing. (Above, clockwise from top left: Half Dome from Yosemite Village, deer by Yosemite Village, Three Graces at Mariposa Grove, fire road by the Wawona Hotel.)

yosemite6-glacier point

Our final stop was Glacier Point, which provided a literal overview of our trip to Yosemite and made us want to return. Maybe we’ll actually camp, hike, or go rafting next time but this visit was pretty great already. Seeya there sometime after our mosquito bites heal up and we’re ready to go three or four days without Asian food again. (Above: View of Half Dome, Vernal Falls, and Nevada Falls from Glacier Point.)

Wi-Fi is super hard to come by in Yosemite Valley, and you’ll learn to get by without it. However, if you’re in civilization you should follow Imprint on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, too.