On Friday, September 20, Downtown pedestrians were given a unique opportunity to stop and smell the flowers.
Pedestrians on Broadway in the heart of Downtown were delighted to find two on-street parking spots converted into a multi-sensory pop-up space where they could sit down, relax, re-vision, re-energize, and celebrate International Park(ing) Day.
This opportunity to “Pause at the Art Parklet” took place in front of the Edison Theater, site of The Art of Bloom, a fully-immersive art exhibition which ran through the 29th of September.
International Park(ing) Day, begun in 2005 by the San Francisco design firm Rebar, is intended to help people re-imagine public space and foster a sense of togetherness. The Long Beach iteration of this event is the result of a partnership between the Downtown Long Beach Alliance, the Downtown creative agency Intertrend (facilitator of The Art of Bloom) and the Long Beach Department of Public Works.
“It’s great to partner with organizations that are focused on doing the right thing and functioning at a higher level,” said Tokotah Ashcraft, in attendance with several of her Intertrend colleagues.
“I literally wanted to build a frame and fill it with our own community,” said Mariah Hoffman, DLBA Placemaking Manager, who served as point person for the event. Hoffman was hands-on throughout the process, curating the music and even building the wooden frame herself which created a lounge for passersby to sit and relax under a flower installation by Lizbeth Molina of Rawfinery, inhale amazing fragrances by olfactory artist Yosh, interact with floral-themed augmented reality from The Art of Bloom, and watch muralist Cynthia Luján paint new creations from old traffic signs donated by the Department of Public Works.
Next to the parklet, visitors could enter the Edison Theater and experience The Art of Bloom, an immersive art experience which tantalized all five senses.
Long Beach Creamery, Recreational Coffee and the Foundation Sandwich Shop all offered food specials to event participants, and Pedal Movement offered a free bicycle safety inspection and chain lube through October 3.
“I think a lot of people want to get back in touch with their primal nature,” said Yosh, the perfumer whose scent creation “Symbiosis” enhances the effect of the falling flower petals in The Art of Bloom. Yosh hosted a parklet fragrance bar which included such potent and evocative Symbiosis “notes” as Silk Road Spices, Citrus Sunshine and Exotic Woods.
Nearby, internationally renowned Pow!Wow! muralist Cynthia Luján was re-purposing old traffic signs donated by the Department of Public Works, festooning them with floral patterns and exhortations to relax in a variety of languages.
The overall effect of the event was one of preserving the human touch within a bustling metropolis.
“This morning this was two parking spaces,” said Mariah Hoffman. “This is how we can re-imagine public space and how it makes us feel.”