New digital art series on A Line (Blue): Artist Cody Lusby

Metro Art has been piloting a new digital art series, and the inaugural exhibition is launching at the A Line (Blue) stations. More People Than You Know features portraits of transit patrons created by local artists. To celebrate the upcoming reopening of the refurbished rail line, we are featuring an interview with each of the commissioned artists. Make sure you look for these portraits displayed on the newly installed digital customer information panels. This is Metro’s first transit corridor with this new cultural amenity.

Lives in the neighborhood: Rose Park, Long Beach

Where do you live and work?
I live and work in Rose Park, a neighborhood of Long Beach. The area has some historic homes dating to the 1920s and is extremely diverse. The area is walkable, full of independently owned businesses and artist run spaces, and is only five blocks from the ocean.

What type of art do you make? What is your primary medium?
I consider myself to be a contemporary figure painter. I work in a mixture of mediums, but my passion lies in oil painting. I use collage in the background to represent a specific place. Then I paint the figure in oil on top. I work in a series format. My current series is an ode to southern California called Arid West. This collection of paintings focuses on water, which should be considered a precious commodity. We import eighty percent of our water from northern California. I feel that water conservation should be a way of life here in Southern California.

How did you approach Metro’s More People Than You Know portrait project? How did you choose your subject?
I used my wife and daughter for the portrait. I photographed them and used the photographs as source materials; and, then painted the portrait in three weeks. For my portrait, I was trying to think: “How can we be aware of the idea of travel and using public transportation?” Our childhood impressions inform our adult association with so many things. I used the mother-and-child-theme as a metaphor for teaching. In this case, the mother is teaching her daughter about using the train as a mode of public transportation. The painted stripes organize the composition into segments, alluding to the passage of time. I see Long Beach as an integral part of the LA County and want to connect my portrait to the broader area. The bird-of-paradise, which is the official flower of LA and used as a backdrop, is a symbol that ties everything and everyone together.

If you had to do this project again, is there anything you would change or do differently?
I would use additional models, if the project could be expanded. The neighborhood is so diverse. There are a lot of different people I could ask to represent future ridership.

What are you working on now?
Being a part of this historical neighborhood, I am working on a mural project called Roses for Rose Park for the alleyway next to my house. It has taken 3 years from idea to realization. I worked with The Rose Park Neighborhood Association and the Arts Council and got the approval from the homeowners, the historical district, and also the city. We are going to paint roses—a reference to Rose Park, and bring as many people as possible together from the neighborhood to help paint this mural. It will be the first one in Long Beach to be in a historical district and on actual historical houses. Once that happens, it will open up the opportunity for so many more alleyways, which are overlooked spaces, to be beautified.