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West End Paints the Community in Visual Arts

By Elisha Neubauer

When it comes to the arts community in Long Beach, West End Arts plays a big part. Beginning in 2001, West End Arts started as an informal gathering. Gaining traction fairly quickly, official meetings began in 2003, opening to the public in 2004, incorporating in 2005, and receiving nonprofit status in 2007. Starting with only a dozen or so members, the organization has now grown to over 140 unique individuals.

"Our organization has been working on exhibiting our artists at the public libraries in Long Beach, the West End branch, and in August, at the main branch on Park Avenue," says Jennifer Aly, WEA President. "We offer space for our artists at Arts in the Plaza in front of City Hall every Saturday from May to Ocotber, a place where WEA, along with another organization, created five years go to have a market for our locals to sell their art."

The mission of the organization is simple: "To encourage the creation and development of the visual arts through education and cultural development," states their website. "We serve the regional interest and communities of western Long Island and the public at large."

They aim to provide a place for artists to exhibit their work, meet other visual arts and crafts people, and connect online and in-person with members and other art organizations. When it comes to non-members, the organization strives to educate the public and enhance knowledge of visual media and culturally enrich the Long Beach Community through the use of visual arts.

"West End Arts has been heavily active in the community since 2001 and has been an interracial part of raising awareness of visual artists that live here," explains Aly. "We have had and continue to offer programs, exhibits, and community events that bring people to the city of Long Beach." With such a vibrant event schedule, the organization has managed to supplement itself quite well, relying on membership and donations from local businesses or individuals that are raffled off at events and meetings.

With such an impressive influx of members, the caliper of talent is quite impressive. "Many of our artists are locally known and range from beginners to professional in many areas of Visual Arts," Aly says. "We have a directory people can check out online." These artists work individually and collectively. "We are most proud of our recent project," says Aly. The project she is referring to is a community mural located at the Long Beach Boardwalk on Edwards Boulevard. "It consists of nearly 500 painted wood pieces which were salvaged from the original boardwalk after Super Storm Sandy."

Each board was painted by residents, local artists, children and families of the area. "We asked them to paint what HOME meant to them," detailed Aly. "It was a healing project for our community and was made successful by businesses donations, city council, and residents."

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About The Author

Elisha Neubauer is a freelance editor, ghostwriter, book reviewer, and author. She is...

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