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We Got This: Art in the Time of the Pandemic

What happens when an airport puts out a call for art inspired by a pandemic?

Long Beach Airport partnered with the Arts Council for Long Beach in the fall of 2020 and received more than 135 submissions from local women artists. The 20 pieces chosen for this exhibit express hope, shared community, respect for frontline workers and an acknowledgement of the challenges we face.

The exhibit title was inspired by a piece from Ms. Yellow (Nuria Ortiz) that explores physical and emotional distance during the pandemic. “We Got This” is her hopeful message for the future.

Funding for the project was provided by the Airport’s allocation of the City’s Percent for the Arts Program, which sets aside one percent of capital construction funds for the arts, and in coordination with the Arts Council for Long Beach’s Keep Arts Working program. The focus on women artists commemorates the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote.

Long Beach Airport Pandemic Art Exhibit - Within the Gift

Within the Gift
Maddie Aub 

This piece was created with the intention of reminding us that no matter how imposing the past or future may feel, only in the present can true happiness be found. Each present moment of our lives is a gift, depicted in this piece as a small bridge between the large “past” and “future” mountains. The sun is shown pushing aside these mountains to make room for the bridge as a way to inspire a sense of gratitude and awe at the fact that we each have a present moment to experience. The difference in scale between the bridge and mountains is intentionally dramatic in order to acknowledge the challenge of residing in the tiny space of “now.” However, despite the challenge, striving to spend less time dwelling on the past or worrying about the future may be one of the most rewarding endeavors we can make; this is because it allows us to enjoy what we have right here and now. Here is an accompanying poem that embodies the spirit of this piece in words:

Life is much more pleasant 

when lived in the present,

so let the sun make way 

for this brand new day.

My art practice has not only been my greatest passion through the years, but also my saving grace in dark times. Its ever-changing purpose in my life is what makes being an artist one of the most fundamental parts of who I am. Instagram - @artofmaddieaub. Website - artofmaddieaub.com

Long Beach Airport Pandemic Art Exhibit - Sheltering

Terry Braunstein 

My work primarily concerns issues of daily life and personal memory juxtaposed against the larger forces of the universe and human history. I completed Sheltering over the past six months while sheltering at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. My intent was to create the feeling of being part of a community that was advised to mostly stay at home during this health crisis. This piece aims to reinforce our shared humanity, with each of the spaces in the work depicting someone doing the best they can under the circumstances.

Throughout my career as an artist I have translated my ideas into a variety of media - photography, books, installation, video, sculpture, and public art - all of which make use of photomontage. Another common thread throughout my work, regardless of medium, is what I call “visual archaeology.” The process begins in the studio with an exploration of the world through extensive research, both visual and written. This investigation then extends into the gallery, inviting the viewer to discover meaning in the work by delving into its images and associations, just as I have in creating it. Instagram - @terrybraunstein. Website - terrybraunstein.com

Long Beach Airport Pandemic Art Exhibit -Mask Up America

Mask Up America
Ellie Bremen

My uplifting message is meant to remind everyone that wearing a mask is one of the most important actions you can take to help frontline heroes. These include doctors, nurses, and health care service workers who are working so hard during the pandemic. A pandemic can be controlled, lives can be saved, and communities can be helped to slow the spread of COVID-19. Mask up America. Instagram - @elliebremen. Website - elliebremen.com


Long Beach Airport Pandemic Art Exhibit - Darkest Before the Dawn

Darkest Before the Dawn
Jennifer Celio

It is difficult for all of us to maintain a positive outlook during the pandemic. Yet we as a global and local humanity share this daily effort to keep a focus on a better future while maneuvering the new reality. In the midst of all the hardships, everyone has witnessed people stepping up to assist and protect their fellow humans with both large and small gestures.

My work has long examined the complicated human relationship with nature. I like to construct narratives that comment on the simultaneous fragility and power of nature, and what that means for humanity as we use it to suit our desires and needs. Using juxtapositions of figurative elements, abstraction, text, and 1960s-80s graphic design, the composition seeks to start a conversation about the effects of human consumption upon ecosystems and the planet as a whole. Instagram - @jencelio. Website - jennifercelio.com


Long Beach Airport Pandemic Art Exhibit - Love Note #110 - This Will Not Break Me

Love Note #110 - This Will Not Break Me
Jamuna Priti Devi Dasi

In the summer of 2020, I knew I wanted to try and bring some love back into the community after we all hit some really dark times together. Our city was covered with closed-down businesses, which had their windows boarded up, so I decided to use the boards and paint on as many of them as I could in a last-ditch effort to uplift the community and share a little light. Every day, all over the city, I started painting what I came to call my latest series "Love Notes."  

My art is motivated by a desire to inspire the community through phrases and images that elicit emotion, and even deeper, touch the hearts of the people. I give each piece all I have, and have been completely humbled by the outpouring of love I received in return. 

“The capacity to love is innate in all beings and is the purest expression of intelligence.– Radhanath Swami

Instagram - @jamunapriti. Website – jamunapriti.com


Long Beach Airport Pandemic Art Exhibit - What We Protect

What We Protect
Michelle Dinh

I created What We Protect to honor all of the women in healthcare and to show what else they protect outside of their line of work. My intention is to humanize essential workers, to celebrate them and to bring attention to their sacrifices.

 My work is driven by color and all things whimsical. During the time of COVID-19, my work has shifted to focusing on themes of empowerment and cultural identity.  Instagram - @sunflowerhues.Website - michellendinh.wixsite.com/portfolio

Long Beach Airport Pandemic Art Exhibit - Long Beach In Sunglasses

Long Beach In Sunglasses
Renee "Karrtune" James

When you see my work you will know what a wonderful city Long Beach is. I am proud of our landmarks, community, and the strength Long Beach has shown through this pandemic, and it is clearly the message my work represents.

 My art is known for its bold, bright and colorful retro pop art-style divas. You can recognize my work from the playful ways each diva has attitude with a smirk, and the technique used to create each hairstyle. My favorite quote is "Art is like clothing; it has to fit you.” Instagram - @karrtunekrekre.  Website – artistkarrtune.com.

Long Beach Airport Pandemic Art Exhibit - Power of Music

Power of Music
Emilie Kirkpatrick

This piece is an ode to the power of music. During the isolation of COVID-19, music has been a godsend for me and so many others. Music brings us together, even when we are apart, and reminds us that we are not alone.

 I am a graphic designer, illustrator and fine artist local to Long Beach. Inspired by nature, urban art and daily life, I strive to create meaningful art that explodes with color. Instagram - @emiliegraphics.

Long Beach Airport Pandemic Art Exhibit - Hope is Essential

Hope is Essential
Angie Lee

I hope that my art can serve as a thank you to our essential workers, especially the women, who are selflessly stepping up to the line during this ongoing pandemic. I hope this piece inspires and brings hope to those who may be feeling anxious. I love my city of Long Beach. I love the people who live here and I am thankful for our essential frontline workers who are serving our community during this time of need. Instagram - @attosec. Website - angielee.webflow.io 

Long Beach Airport Pandemic Art Exhibit - Black Girl Magic

Black Girl Magic
Liza Macawili

This piece represents my love and hope for the future of our community. People turn to creatives for hope. During quarantine, while full of anxiety, I decided to draw my friends, models and other creatives who lost their livelihoods during the pandemic, in order to ease my tension. My art represents the beauty in thriving during challenging times.

 I come from a visual arts family but I didn't know what my media was until a friend had me draw with her on black paper. I see the positive in the negative, so this medium opened up a whole new world of art for me. My art is my therapy and is what calms my nerves and gives me hope, and that's what I want to portray in my subjects. Instagram - @sketchyoldbroad. Website - lizamakeup.com

Long Beach Airport Pandemic Art Exhibit - Corona Transformed

Corona Transformed
Diane McLeod

My artwork, Corona Transformed, provides uplifting and hopeful messages related to the pandemic. My piece began in a spontaneous and intuitive way. I whimsically printed a small flower from an old wreath. Printed, it resembled the coronavirus, and at the same time, it resembled a flower head. From death and destruction something beautiful and transformed can be born.

From the destructive effects of the virus emerged a garden of hope, a blossoming of new life. Our shared humanity is reinforced by the shared consequences of this deadly disease - the closing of businesses, the loss of life and the loss of our former ways of life. Our humanity also shares at heart, qualities of hope and the desire to believe something good comes out of the worst of conditions, tragedy transformed into renewed life. Instagram - @diane.mcleod148 or @mcleod6731. Website - dmcleodprints.com. Phone - 562-331-8100.

Long Beach Airport Pandemic Art Exhibit - Ocean Walk 908 AM

Ocean Walk 9:08 AM 
Cheryl Milas

I enjoy working in many mediums, and my subjects recreate scenes local and foreign. This work shows an individual walking forward down our Long Beach shoreline to become part of a larger concerned and progressive community. One contemplates individually in moments of solitude, yet contributes to the whole of Long Beach's united response to ever-changing circumstances. Just as the ocean is sometimes rough and dark, it can sometimes be tranquil and inviting. We wade into different situations and challenges daily, weekly, and monthly. Take time for solitude, breathe, clear your mind, center your thoughts, and move forward with purpose.

Long Beach Airport Pandemic Art Exhibit - Roller Skater Daija Marie Moss

Roller Skater Daija Marie Moss
Tracy Negrete

I chose a local roller skater for my piece. She is thinking of a brighter day while feeling free and having fun. They call Long Beach "Skate City," the home of many roller skaters and skateboarders. During this pandemic, the community searched for ways to stay active, and roller skating was a great way to do that while social distancing at the same time. It’s a great form of expression and a great way to release stress, especially during this trying time.

 My passion is creating public art, working and collaborating with communities and inspiring them through art, which is the key reason why I create. Instagram - @tracy_negrete_art. Website - www.tracynegrete.com.

Long Beach Airport Pandemic Art Exhibit - I Miss You We Got This

I Miss You/We Got This
Ms. Yellow (Nuria Ortiz)

It has been hard, not just for me, but for many people to not have much in-person human contact. I’ve heard lots of stories reflecting sadness. Those feelings are very valid. In this piece, I reflect that but in a more uplifting way. The birds can symbolize airplanes in the sky or paths. Two women are at the center, reaching for each other and longing for adventures with friends. The messages in their hair give you a peek into those feelings. But they must pass each other by for now and keep on their own path for the safety of their loved ones. The sun, moon and colors of the sky mirror time passing by. The flowers underneath keep growing.

 My work explores themes such as culture, folklore, sisterhood, education, unity, love and social justice. This piece reflects optimism, hope, love and challenges of the virus. Instagram - @MsYellowArt. Email - o.airun@gmail.com.

Long Beach Airport Pandemic Art Exhibit - We're Going to Be OK OK

We're Going to Be OK, OK?
Hannah Perez

This piece speaks to our humanness through the showing of an embrace between two people who could possibly be worried, but choose hope instead. The sort of cutesy aesthetic adds to the lightness of the composition, and with all that is heavy that weighs on the world right now, what we need is lightness and hope.

 I am a multimedia visual artist. My work explores feelings of connection between humans or other entities, and emphasizes feelings of comfort, interpersonal subjectivity,  and at times, solitude, or finding comfort within the self. This is often expressed through people, plants, and cats, which all hold personal significance in my own life. The way emotion can be built into art is a story that can be told in endless ways, and it's that path of exploration I take within my work. Instagram - @keekihanu. Website - hanuperez.com

Long Beach Airport Pandemic Art Exhibit - Poppies

Michelle Sears

Feeling a sense of isolation, and the weight of the seriousness of COVID-19, I began creating nature-inspired works as both my mom and grandma often did when I was a child. Flowers seemed to appear in my work which can, and has, provided many people with the hope of growth and a continued resilience during challenging times.

 This piece is not a literal interpretation, but rather a hopeful familiar metaphor or symbol that with love and compassion we can grow during the darkest of times. The work contains poppies which have their own symbolism in our history. They have been used as a metaphor to honor those who have fallen in war, or in times of struggle. This symbolism is relevant and needed now.

 My work is inherently a reflection of the women I admire and the natural world that surrounds me. I often combine abstraction and observation to create vibrant, textured works in watercolor, ink, acrylic, oil, pastels or really anything that makes a mark on a blank surface. Instagram - @moreartlessdrama. Website - etsy.com/shop/MichelleMarguerite.

Long Beach Airport Pandemic Art Exhibit - Choose To Be Kind

Choose To Be Kind
Linda Spery

At the onset of the pandemic, a sign caught my eye that read “Choose to Be Kind.” This has been my mantra through the past eight months, so it is fitting that I chose this as the theme of this watercolor and ink painting. At the same time, I gave thought to what accomplishments have taken place this year while our world has been turned upside down. Long Beach’s new iconic “Bridge to Everywhere” immediately came to mind. In my artwork, I feature masked Long Beach citizens representing the diversity of our community as they take a celebratory stroll together on the new bridge as a plane flies overhead with a banner urging everyone to “Choose to Be Kind.”

I am a Long Beach watercolor artist who enjoys plein air painting of landscapes, cityscapes, and people of all ages interacting with the outdoor environment. I enjoy the challenge of watercolor painting with its unexpected surprises, its creative color combinations and the company of fellow artists in plein air settings. Instagram - @lindaspery.

Long Beach Airport Pandemic Art Exhibit - Safety First

Safety First
Karina Vasquez

Safety First was created in response to the shift we all had to make during the pandemic. Something as simple as wearing a mask shows that we are aware that our actions can potentially protect ourselves, as well as others. It's a gentle reminder that masks are for safety and not oppression. The color palette used is also intentional, as it draws attention and is meant to remind the viewer of caution signs such as those found in construction zones.

 My drawings and illustrations are my perception of the world around me and my place within it. The female figure is central in my work, depicting my personal emotions in reaction to my environment. Organic matter is another constant in my work; plants are meant to remind the viewer that we exist in the natural world, not solely as a spectator, but as a part of it. Instagram - @sleepy.day.dreams.

Long Beach Airport Pandemic Art Exhibit - COVID Warrior

COVID Warrior
Mer Young

In order to pay homage, and to thank them for their service to our community, I have created art that reflects our frontline workers. I am a Long Beach artist who has created a body of artwork manifested in collages, drawings, paintings, and public artworks that communicate the importance of understanding the natural world, and brings forth cultural awareness. My artwork also aims to inspire, celebrate and elevate repressed, indigenous, First Nations, native cultures, and women of color. Instagram - @youngmer. Website - meryoung.com.

Long Beach Airport Pandemic Art Exhibit - Essential Workers

Essential Workers
Mer Young

In order to pay homage, and to thank them for their service to our community, I have created art that reflects our frontline workers. I am a Long Beach artist who has created a body of artwork manifested in collages, drawings, paintings, and public artwork that communicates the importance of understanding the natural world, and brings forth cultural awareness. My artwork also aims to inspire, celebrate and elevate repressed, indigenous, First Nations, native cultures and women of color. Instagram - @youngmer. Website - meryoung.com.