Street art emerges on shuttered businesses during COVID-19

Jamuna Priti decided to board up her nail bar Kleur in Alamitos Beach, CA as an extra precaution toward the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, but she said it wasn't an easy decision.

The business owner said the boarded-up storefronts reminded her of the Los Angeles riots: "To me, it's so threatening," Priti said. "I just can't wrap my head around seeing a bunch of boarded up windows."

That's when Priti had an idea. "I love to paint," she said. "I came up with all of these different messages that I've seen and kind of tapped into how I was feeling."

She painted the boards that covered her store's window bright purple, and added messages of positivity and hope.

Her storefront now showcases these messages: "I don't have to be productive to be worthy," "My feelings are real," "I am loved by others," among others.

Pritti's idea of converting boarded-up storefronts into works of art made its way to the Arts Council for Long Beach.

"For any business out there who might feel alone, they should know that there is a community behind them trying to beautify their storefronts and protect them duringthese times," said Griselda Suarez, Executive Director of the Arts Council for Long Beach.

The Arts Council is now commissioning local artist to create pieces for Long Beach businesses.

"We want to create messages of hope and, at the same time, we want to get artists paid," Suarez said.

Los Angeles-based artist Corie Mattie has placed dozens of her bright yellow pieces across the region. She made her mark in Long Beach at Sweetwater Saloon and painted an ice cream truck.

Mattie's signature is the LA Hope Dealer. Her work has been distributed to cities across the country.

"We're all in the same boat right now, but we're facing different storms," Mattie said. "I want people to be able to see the Hope Dealer and be like, 'Alright, that is so motivating to me and inspiring me to keep going.'"

Mattie hopes the bright light that artists are creating in this dark time will shine on once the pandemic comes to an end.

"History always repeats itself," Mattie said. "After the plague came the Renaissance."