Local artists share stories of identity at Long Beach Zine Fest in Bixby Knolls

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Kristen Naeem | Signal Tribune
Artists sell zines, art prints and other DIY items in the Bixby Knolls Expo Arts Center for the Long Beach Zine Fest on Sept. 8, 2019.

Over 100 artists and collectives participated in the fifth annual Long Beach Zine Fest at the Expo Arts Center in Bixby Knolls on Sept. 8, and according to Sé Reed, one of the event’s co-founders, identity was the event’s theme.

This included personal, cultural and gender identity said Reed.

According to the event’s website, “Long Beach Zine Fest is a free one-day event promoting zines, independent publishing and DIY culture, featuring a diverse zinester marketplace, plus live music, panels and workshops.”

Zines are independent publications usually intended for only small-scale circulation and often about niche interests and ideas.

Zine-makers’ seemed to use aspects of their identity in their art, such as Tacos de Luna’s Monica Leal Cueva who used aspects of her Mexican-American heritage, such as Loteria cards and the Virgin of Guadalupe, in her art and zines.

The art collective BAOBAE, formed by two Asian-American women, also created a zine called Chinese Midwestern Girls, and pop art style prints of women saying, “I loved him but then I watched his web-series.”

Aspects of gender identity and feminism were present in the products sold at many booths at the event, such as BBHM$COLLECTIVE, which sold stickers by member Chynna Jenkins of tombstones inscribed with the phrase “gender roles are dead.”

Emily Hillburg, a member of BBHM$COLLECTIVE, told the Signal Tribune that “Long Beach does the best zine fest.”

Hillburg also repurposes porcelain and ceramic pieces by painting slogans on them with dripping red paint, such as “anything you can do, I can do bleeding” and “I still believe Anita Hill.”

Reed also told the Signal Tribune that organizers felt it was important that all the live music for Long Beach Zine Fest was provided by local Long Beach bands. The bands that performed included Shy but Flyy, Karenn Campbell, Shiro, Cherry Tang and Primrose River. DJ Dennis Owens also played music throughout the day.

Four educational zine workshops were also hosted throughout the day. Attendees learned how to make zines about family recipes, to utilize artistic collages in zines and to use cyanotype printing and zines about personal stories of resilience, respectively.

Two discussion panels also took place during the event about the importance of bilingual zines, moderated by Ziba Zehdar of the Los Angeles Public Library, and on the perspective of disabled ziners, which was moderated by Jaklin Romine.

“We will explore the idea of bilingual zines as a safe space for refugees and undocumented immigrants. We will also discuss how children of immigrants may use zines as a way to connect to their parent’s language,” read a program distributed to attendees during the Long Beach Zine Fest.

The Long Beach Public Library also provided a space in the North Gallery of the Expo Center for guests to relax and read zines in bean bag chairs, as well as create their own small zines.

Food was available for purchase on site, including many vegan options.

Free parking was made available for attendees at the Bixby Business Center parking lot, and valet bike parking was available at the Expo Center.

This year’s Long Beach Zine Fest was partially funded by the Arts Council for Long Beach and the City of Long Beach.