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With Vacuum Cleaners, Long Beach Artist Makes a Political Statement

With Vacuum Cleaners, Long Beach Artist Makes a Political StatementEXPAND
Photo by Sascha Bos

One week ago, late in the evening on Sunday, eleven silver vacuum cleaners mysteriously appeared on a median in downtown Long Beach, directly in front of the Museum of Latin American Art. But the work has nothing to do with MoLAA or the Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum across the street – the spray-painted vacuums were installed by a local artist Colin Lindsay, who was frustrated by "the lack of public improvements money spent in that area."

That area being the eastern part of downtown Long Beach, where Lindsay has lived for the past seven years.

For six of those years, Lindsay has collected vacuums from the trash cans of Downtown Long Beach, literally turning the neighborhood's garbage into art.

"The vacuums are placed on a site where a park and public art installation have been promised for many years," Lindsay says. Taking matters into his own hands, he installed the vacuums on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, between 6th and 7th streets — a busy intersection in a poor part of town that's largely black and Latino.

The vacuums in front of MoLAAEXPAND
The vacuums in front of MoLAA
Photo by Sascha Bos

"More affluent, white neighborhoods like Belmont Shore [in Long Beach] have beautiful open spaces and developed parks and recreation areas, many recently installed or redeveloped," Lindsay points out. Meanwhile, Long Beach's Eastside remains neglected. 

But regardless of whether the vacuums will be a wake-up call for the city, the locals seem to like Lindsay's message. "At least someone is trying to clean up the city," a commenter posted on a recent LB Post article.

The vacuums are not permitted or secured to the location in any way, so we'd recommend visiting soon. See if you can spot the artist's stencil: "There's no such thing as coincidence."

When it comes to this whimsical installation, the message is clear: If the city won't clean up downtown, its artists will. 

See also: Foster the People's Downtown L.A. Mural Is Coming Down


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