LB Literary Arts Center organizers help locals find ‘Common Ground’

During First Fridays at the Expo Arts Center, the Long Beach Literary Arts Center hosted Common Ground: Only in Long Beach, an interactive storytelling event that featured personal narratives about the city. The event also included themed art, an advice booth and more.

For Bixby Knolls’s monthly First Fridays community event on April 5, the Expo Arts Center hosted many different residents, small vendors and artists from around Long Beach.
Organizers of the Common Ground: Only in Long Beach event, presented by the Long Beach Literary Arts Center, said they were attempting to unite diverse groups of people through their connection to the city.
The art and photography that was displayed that Friday centered on the theme of Long Beach. Local artists depicted scenes from recognizable areas of the city in the pieces they shared.
A work entitled “Tobi’s day at Rosie’s Dog Beach,” an oil painting done by Ivan Zuno, portrayed not only Long Beach’s four-acre stretch of beach dedicated to dogs, but the downtown Long Beach skyline in the distance, as well.
The historic La Villa Riviera, built downtown in 1928 and famous for its green-oxidized copper roof, was also represented through a collage by artist Cory Bilicko, who also curated the art exhibit.
A couch was also available for participants to sit with the artistic director of the Long Beach Community Theater, Ann Wellman, who was providing free advice to willing attendees.
The main event was an interactive activity meant to have participants share their similarities and differences with a partner. Each pair of people were given a piece of paper, with separate questions meant to discover similarities on one side and explore differences on the other.
When asked about what aspects of Long Beach’s community the event hoped to focus on, Rachael Rifkin, co-founder of the Long Beach Literary Arts Center, said noted the “quirky and diverse” qualities residents have.
“People don’t judge you here,” she said. “They’re interested in learning about people’s differences. It’s important to tell our stories in order to appreciate Long Beach. What makes Long Beach great is our commonalities but also our differences. Since Long Beach Literary Arts Center was involved, we wanted an element of storytelling that is available to everyone.”
Rifkin added that the Long Beach Literary Arts Center hoped to “centralize the community” and “unify the city” and to draw people from other cities to Long Beach to participate in cultural and literary events.


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