The Aquarium has been selected as a site for the 2016 POW! WOW! Long Beach festival, which brings world-renowned artists to the city to paint several large-scale murals over the course of one week (July 11 to 15, 2016). The Aquarium’s nearly 2,600-square-foot front wall will be painted by Portuguese street artist Pantonio (Antonio Correia). The mural will be on view at the Aquarium for several months until demolition begins for the construction of the Aquarium’s Pacific Visions wing.
The mural will be informed by the Aquarium’s new Vanishing Animals exhibit, which educates the public about the potential for mass extinction in the ocean and what to do to prevent it. In addition, the Aquarium’s popular Night Dive event on July 14 will be POW! WOW!-themed and feature programming with participating artists and activities on the front lawn in view of the mural.
Pantonio, who hails from Lisbon, Portugal, is a street artist whose work is characterized by dark blue and black imagery reminiscent of the ocean and organic life forms. Born in the Azores, he draws inspiration from the black rocks and ocean surrounding the islands. His work frequently refers to the sea, with sardines, cod, octopuses, ropes, boats, and even mermaids serving as subjects. His work also often carries social messages, echoing modern crises and aiming to disrupt the establishment. In April he painted a mural on one of the main streets of Chernobyl in the Ukraine to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the nuclear disaster. In 2014 he painted what is considered Europe’s largest mural in Paris’s 13th district, covering a wall 217 feet tall and 50 feet wide.
POW! WOW! originated in Honolulu, Hawaii, and has since expanded to include cities in many countries around the world, including Japan, Israel, Singapore, Jamaica, Guam, New Zealand, and Germany. POW! WOW! festivals include gallery shows, lecture series, schools for art and music, creative community spaces, concerts, and live art installations.