Long Beach artists design coloring book pages honoring essential workers

An+online+coloring+book+page+created+by+Long+Beach+artist+Alex+Diffin%2C+which+depicts+baker+and+LB+Beer+Lab+co-owner+Harmony+Sage.

An online coloring book page created by Long Beach artist Alex Diffin, which depicts baker and LB Beer Lab co-owner Harmony Sage.

To keep the quarantined public occupied, The Arts Council for Long Beach will be releasing a weekly series of coloring book-style pages online that celebrate the role of essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We want to illuminate the unseen heroes in Long Beach doing the work every day to keep the city functioning and ensuring that everyone has access to food, care, resources and information,” Arts Council Executive Director Griselda Suarez said. “We are stronger and safer because of them.”

New coloring book pages will be released on the council’s website every Wednesday. So far, the project includes four pages by two Long Beach artists.

Coloring page depicting an EMS worker designed by Long Beach artist Dan Nguyen.

The Arts Council for Long Beach commissions the coloring book pages from artists belonging to its online artist registry as part of its “Keep Arts Working” campaign, which seeks to sponsor art commissions, in part to “begin to recuperate the creative economy,” according to its website.

The first set of coloring book pages were released on April 8, designed by local Vietnamese-American artist Dan Nguyen. His two images depict a masked Emergency Medical Services worker in front of an ambulance and a grocery store worker standing between aisles.

A masked grocery store worker is depicted in this coloring book artwork by Dan Nguyen.

The following week’s coloring pages by artist Alex Diffin were portraits of the couple behind the Long Beach Beer Lab and Long Beach Bread Lab, Harmony Sage and Levi Fried, in honor of their service to the community during the health crisis.

“The ability to adapt and overcome while also helping others is a beautiful thing to arise out of this crisis,” Diffin said, “and I think they exemplify it.”

Portrait of Levi Fried by Alex Diffin for a coloring book page commissioned by the Arts Council for Long Beach.

LB Bread Lab has dramatically ramped up its bread production to meet the needs of the community and began selling grocery items during the pandemic. Sage also created a program where residents can buy coffee and pastries for healthcare workers through her kiosk at MemorialCare’s Long Beach Medical Center. The business is also contributing to the fund, so that it costs customers less to buy coffee and pastries at the kiosk for healthcare workers than for themselves.

“When I learned that my likeness and the story of our humble Bread Lab was going to be used by the Long Beach Arts Council in a coloring book for kids sheltering in place, I was in shock,” Sage posted on Instagram along with blank and colored- in versions of the portrait. “Alex Diffin is super talented and the work she has done is fantastic. This project embraces the spirit in the Bread Lab with hard work, great artistry and a focus on fun, curious experiments. I couldn’t be happier with the outcome, and am completely taken aback.”