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Belmont Plaza & Skateboarding Heritage

Late last year, the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool was demolished due to structural concerns. Long Beach preservationists and conservationists sadly said goodbye to a well known landmark for the community, while a surprising niche of the community quietly shared in their woes. The "Belmont Benches" were utilized by skateboarders in Long Beach long before the many neighborhood skate parks appeared. I didn't truly recognize the value in skateboarder's connections to our built environment until I spotted a skateboard deck with a memorial tribute to the Belmont Plaza from Long Beach Skate.

This got me thinking about how the community is impacted when we demolish our designed structures and spaces. Even with a well known landmark like the Belmont Pool, we only hear from a small section of the population, with the less vocal residents often going unheard. Unique creations like this skate deck serve as a mash up of unexpected sources that connect with a broad range of the community. From skaters, to swimmers, to historic preservationists, a diverse audience is invited to share in reflecting on the memories created in the space. This surprising mash up of different parts of the same community was inspiring.

For my own mash up design project this week, I wanted to play with rotoscoping. While researching skate footage taken at the Belmont Plaza I found Luan Oliveira's video that not only showed how the space was used by the skaters, but also had a great sense of place with the building in the background. I narrowed the footage down to my favorite trick, and imported the video clip into Photoshop as individual frames. Getting the process of creating a new layer for each slide had an initial learning curve, but once established I fell into a comfortable rhythm of production. I also took this opportunity to experiment with different brush strokes I don't often have use for, and learned how to create a custom brush using text and masked objects. The process of researching and creating this project gave me a new appreciation for this historic spot, and reminded me to consider the silent voices in our communities.

If you want to know more about the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool,

head over to the LBPost for Brian Addison's amazing photos and article.

Oh, and check out this article from Complex:

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