Re-Imagining Alleys: Reclaiming The Space In Between

Dec. 6, 2011 / By

We all walk past them, some might walk through them, but most of us will try to avoid them when its dark. Movies often portray them as the place where crimes happen and where the good guy gets assaulted for the very last time. We associate them with being dirty and dank.

While driving down an alley, the ride is often bumpy and we expect the sound of splashing puddles that have accumulated in potholes. Some people use alleys as a means to enter their garage; others use them as places to dump their old couch or broken television set.

The alley is a kind of no-man’s land, a point and moment of transition into another destination. But what if alleys were transformed from uninviting corridors to an art oasis in a creative desert?

Imagine walking down the street and just as you walk past an alley, you suddenly realize that there is a huge archway. You look in and an array of bright plants, flowers, art work, fountains and sculptures are beaming back at you. This once dark, foreboding place is now an eighth of a mile that you would gladly make a detour for.

As you step in and quickly notice the grass under your shoes, there are vines with bright flowers climbing up the walls which are painted with colorful murals and framed in tiny handprints—as if painted byfifth graders. A few joggers pass you by going the opposite direction and greet you with panting smiles and you notice that there are more people walking through the gallery you once saw as lifeless concrete.

These types of alleys would render Long Beach as an art-friendly city.  It would allow for art and the artists who make them an opportunity to share their work beyond a gallery context.

Little projects like this would really improve the community morale and encourage parents to have their kids involved in their neighborhoods. What better way to show children the value of hard work and teamwork as they have fun and add beauty to their neighborhoods?

These alley galleries would not just require an initial push of support from the neighborhood, but it would need for the collaboration of the whole community to maintain them. If one of these sprouted up every mile or two throughout central and west Long Beach, imagine how much livelier the neighborhood would be, how much more unified everyone would be, and the ideas this would spark in the imaginations of anyone who happened to stumble across the art-alley.

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