A new cafe in Cambodia City will sell coffee, Guatemalan food and art from local artists

Long Beach’s newest art exhibit allows residents to shop for local art, order coffee and enjoy home-cooked Guatemalan food, all in one place.

Cafe Chapin will host its grand opening on Saturday, September 10, with works by eight local artists gracing its walls. The exhibit will be the first in a monthly series curated by Art, Music and Culture, a Long Beach-based one-man small business that curates and organizes art and music performances throughout Los Angeles County.

Chapin is a common Guatemalan slang term that originated in Spain as chapín, a style of shoe worn by noblemen in the fifteenth century.

Efren Luna often uses his network of artists as a call to action for various causes, the latest of which is to support the development of a Guatemalan family cafe. Eswin Orozco and his family have lived in Long Beach for more than 18 years and have long dreamed of expanding his family’s business in Guatemala to the United States, according to Luna.

“Here’s this family that pooled all their resources to start something,” Luna said. “The way I see it is they need the support because it’s the mom and pop shops, you know, they need the support of the artist and vice versa, right?”

After graduating from Cal State Long Beach with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2007, Luna began organizing art performances that combined physical art, music and culture, hoping to find her own style. The shows were so well received that he continued to plan and host art shows for over a decade.

He is a longtime advocate for the arts in Long Beach and was named Advocate of the Year by the Long Beach Post in 2015

When he hears that his friend Orozco will own the soon-to-be-opened Cafe Chapin, he pitches the idea of ​​making the cafe double as an art space to engage the community. Each month, Cafe Chapin’s wall art will be exchanged for all new pieces, creating a constant opportunity for local artists to sell their work.

The logo for Cafe Chapin, which is scheduled to open to the public on September 10, 2022. (Courtesy of Efren Luna)

“The group is small right now, but we only had a month to get it together,” Luna said. “So as we speak, as I’m already thinking, I have to start recruiting artists for next month and the next and the next.”

Each month’s exhibition will open on the second Saturday of each month in the cafe, accompanied by live music and performances by local artists. On September 10, Cafe Chapin will host Ferri Boy DJ, a music artist from Long Beach. Luna said they also extended an invitation to Council member Suely Saro, but have yet to hear back.

The September show will feature works by five Long Beach artists and three Los Angeles artists. The submitted paintings embrace Long Beach and Latino culture, depicting calaveras or sugar skulls, pinup men and women wearing “Long Beach,” “562” and “213” on their glasses.

There are no professional art requirements, as Luna emphasized that she wants the exhibit to be open to all artists. The only guideline is that the art cannot contain explicit material as Cafe Chapin is a family owned and operated business.

“My shows might have someone who is a self-taught artist alongside someone with an art college degree,” Luna said. “I just feel like you know what, it’s an opportunity for both of us [artists] but at the same time acknowledges the passions of both individuals.”

There is currently no set time for each exhibit, as this month will act as an experiment for future exhibits. Luna said they are also exploring the idea of ​​organizing themed exhibitions where each entry follows the same sentiment.

The cafe has enough wall space to display art from 20 artists at once if each submits a piece or two, Luna said. Submissions can range from drawings, paintings, photography and mixed media.

“My reason for doing this is to include people, to bring people together, different cultures, different backgrounds, and that’s so powerful that I’m excited,” Luna said. “It’s literally starting from scratch and it’s amazing to be a part of it.”

Anyone interested in submitting their art for a Cafe Chapin exhibit can contact Luna via his Instagram (@artmusicandculture). Parts can be purchased with cash, check, CashApp, Zelle, PayPal and Venmo. Purchased art will be split 35/65 between artist and curator.

Artists interested in participating in a second Saturday event at the cafe should also contact Luna.

Cafe Chapin will host its Grand Opening featuring food samples, coffee, music and a new art exhibit on Saturday, September 10th from 5:00pm to 8:00pm at 1436A Cherry Ave.

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