Seeing the success of big street art projects like Pow Wow Worldwide, Daphne Draayer knew she could take street art a step further. She applied for the DLBA’s placemaking grant with aims on making turned the alleys of the East Village Arts District into an outdoor art gallery.

Partnering up with Jason Ostro of LA’s Gabba Gallery cemented the deal. Ostro has been working on a “Blight to Bright” mural project in LA’s Historic Filipinotown as well as Echo Park. The project has been officially recognized by the City of Los Angeles when Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell awarded certificates of commendation to Gabba Gallery and all the artists who have painted murals.

The goal of the East Village Arts District Mural Expansion project is to turn the Arts District into an outdoor art gallery by having more than 100 murals throughout the alleys of Frontenac and Liberty Courts from Ocean to 10th Street. That’s 20 alley blocks and it will be no easy feat. Getting permission from the owners of the buildings is the biggest hurdle, but Draayer and Ostro have already completed 6 murals with 15 artists ready to go once they have walls to act as canvases.

Creatively stylized murals of elephants, surreal natural wonders and patterns are just a start for this project. “We expect businesses to see increased foot traffic, less opportunity or want to commit crime or litter, growth in city pride, and a general feeling of safety in environment,” said Draayer. “It will brighten the alleys and bring an overwhelming sense of beauty to the neighborhood.”

Ostro’s plan is to curate pieces that all go along with one another and places emphasis on working with the community. “Artists have sent other artists or they hear about it online,” he explained. “We’re getting calls all the time from artists asking if there are walls left.” The project has also partnered with the Arts Council for Long Beach in an effort to reach out to Long Beach-based experienced mural artists as well.

“As more people and businesses move into Downtown our public spaces will become even more integral in making Downtown a more vibrant place,” added the DLBA’s Placemaking Manager, Sean Warner. “The East Village Outdoor Gallery project is a prime example of a way to activate a space and draw the community to places they never would have noticed before.”

Ostro and Draayer encourage the community to follow the project on social media with the hashtag #GabbaAlleyProjectDTLB. Gabba Gallery operates as a non-profit, and art-lovers can support the East Village Outdoor Galley project with tax-deductible donations made via Fractured Atlas.