The mission of the Art Exchange is to create a best-in-class art facility that will be a vibrant hub for professional artist, support K-12 arts education, and implement cutting edge community arts programs. The Art Exchange supports working artists and arts education through the development of a world-class visual arts center reflecting the rich cultural heritage of our community. Through these efforts we will be inspiring a future generation of creative, driven, and successful artists while also filling a niche in community and industrial arts programs for Long Beach.
- An art center enhances quality of life in our community, creates synergy for economic development and is a destination for residents and visitors.
- Students of all ages benefit from equal access to arts education.
- Experiencing working artists as they are create gives insight into the artistic process and fosters greater appreciation for the arts.
- Artists benefit from being able to work in a professionally supportive environment.
- Art forges alliances, bridges gaps and cultivates communication across a diverse cultural and socio-economic spectrum.
The concept for an arts-focused community center was initiated from the City’s recognition that the East Village area was evolving as an arts district. Starting in 1996, City officials began studying other art districts and art centers around the country. Over the next several years, two feasibility studies were commissioned. Both studies confirmed that building a community art center, where artists can work and live as well as have access to gallery space for art exhibits and programs, would enhance the East Village’s quality of life and provide an important hub for a vibrant art neighborhood. The Art Exchange project was aptly named – for artists to exchange ideas, sell art to the community and for artistic skills to be fostered.
The Art Exchange (ARTX) received its 501(c)3 non-profit designation in 2006. Creative programs have been developed over the years for the community, and numerous gallery exhibits have been hosted by ARTX. These exhibits have showcased the art of local Long Beach artists and giving the community a chance to cultivate emerging art.
The programming at Art Exchange is reflective of the diverse community found in Long Beach. This past fall Art Exchange held a 12-week course in partnership with the United Cambodian Community where 50+ art-minded high school students were given hands-on exposure to 12 forms of art ranging from water coloring, ceramics, costume design and photography. Our Summer Arts Experience has been offered for the past six years and allows K-12 children to attend a two-week art immersion camp that teaches a wide range of art techniques from clay molding, painting and print-making. Given the funding cutbacks in public education and the resulting elimination of art classes, ARTX believes that the public availability of art programs fills an important void in our children’s educational development. Several thousand students have participated in these creative and diverse programs.
Another service ARTX provides is gallery space for emerging artists to showcase their work. Our fall Annual Holiday Salon is fashioned in the spirit of the French tradition, where artists are provided a limited space to hang their art and as the art is purchased it is replaced with new pieces – envision a speed-dating version of a public art sale!
As ARTX programming has grown, so too has the desire to find a permanent location in the East Village that fulfills the vision our City and Community leaders have had since 1996. Starting with work done by the Long Beach Redevelopment Agency (LBRDA), a series of buildings located on 3rd and Elm were identified as having the infrastructure and capability to serve the arts community in four critical areas.
- Create a series of individual art studios for select community artists to work, display and sell their work to the public.
- Provide gallery space to showcase the art of local Long Beach artists.
- Provide classroom space for a variety of community programs with a focus on arts education.
- Reactivate a live-in apartment studio for an emerging resident artist.
Over the past decade the LBRDA restructured and city agencies evolved, but the ARTX vision was not lost. Crucial public funding as well as private donations have pushed the project forward. The series of buildings set aside by the City (running west from the intersection of 3rd and Elm) is currently under the final stage of renovations. New electrical and plumbing infrastructure, ADA restrooms, roofing and flooring are currently being installed. The five individual art studios are also getting a facelift thanks to private donations and a highly motivated ARTX team. In September ARTX will unveil to the community a stunning 2500 square foot gallery/program space and the newly renovated art studios. The vision to create a premier community arts center in Long Beach will embark on a new chapter as ARTX moves into a permanent home.
ArtExchange Board of Directors
Steve Pakiz – Chair
Jay P. Hong – Executive Director & Asset Management
Carin Jacobs – Community Culture Development
Ron Nelson — Art Vision & Curation
Tom Corcoran — Treasurer
Mathew Rabin – General Counsel
Dawn Radue – Marketing & Membership
Lia Brownell – Private & Community Gallery Events
Laurie Gale – Secretary and Acting Volunteer Coordinator
Karen Steffani – Deputy Director
Ryan Neils – Gallery Host
ArtExchange Key Volunteers