We had the good fortune of connecting with Elizabeth Munzon and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Elizabeth, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Back when I was working on my B.F.A. at California State University Long Beach, before Flatline became the artist-run gallery it is today, I had the idea of renting a storefront to serve as my art studio with enough space to utilize a portion of it as a gallery. I wanted to create a space for art exhibitions as a way to stay connected and evolve with the art community in Long Beach and the greater Los Angeles area. A few months after graduating, I co-founded Flatline in the summer of 2017. A passion project for myself and my co-director. For the first year in a half I curated an exhibition every other month. With each exhibition I learned and challenged myself to be a better curator while also juggling my own art practice and a job. As of January of 2019, I took on Flatline as the solo director of the gallery. Around the same time I realized I wanted Flatline to be my job, because I loved working with other artists and being able to give them the opportunity to realize their visual ideas. In order to make my passion project into my job, I worked at creating a self-sustainable space. We expanded our programming with arts education and professional development workshops, an artist interview series, and created an in gallery and online artists market where we list original artwork and merch from local artists for sale.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I have an ongoing series titled “Centzon Totochtin: 400 Rabbits” inspired by the Aztec mythology of the 400 drunken rabbits; believed to be Gods or Spirits who possessed the human body to give it the feeling of intoxication. I gravitated towards the mythology while researching the legends and myths of Mexico. My research aimed to educate myself on the stories and myths of my culture. As I learn about the 400 rabbits I create oil on canvas interpretations of the narrative often using the figure, warm and cool color palettes and compositions inspired by 1800s and early 1900s artists like the Pre-Raphaelites. Aside from this ongoing series I also love painting portraits. I am excited to keep developing this series as well as explore other pre-hispanic mythologies. I work in my studio located behind Flatline gallery. When I am not working on my art practice. I run the front part of my space which is dedicated to Flatline. Flatline is an artist-run gallery that is proud to create an alternative and inclusive platform for new and emerging artists and curators from Long Beach and the greater Los Angeles area where they can have the expressive freedom for executing their visual ideas. We also seek to promote the visual arts through community engagement and arts education with in the North Long Beach community. Getting too where I am today wasn’t easy. While I was working on expanding our programming I had a job and my own art practice. I was finding it harder and harder to time manage everything on my plate. I was burning out and didn’t have the time I wanted to dedicate to our new programming. This was when I decided to quit my day job. It was definitely a risk that took me a while to decide on, but ultimately I figured I was in a good stage of my life to take that risk. At the time I was working as an arts education administrator, so I figured I still had the rest of my life to go back to arts administration if things didn’t work out. I took on side jobs and commissions of my own artwork to make up for some of that lost income. I had only quit my job a few months before covid-19 happened. I feared I made a huge mistake in quitting. Things were looking bleak and I honestly didn’t know if I was going to be able to keep my studio and the gallery open. I considered applying to other jobs, but realized that my feelings to keep the space were stronger than the desire for a steady income, again, I took another risk to make my dreams of owning a gallery with my studio in the back a reality. I wanted Flatline to still be standing in a post covid world for myself and for the countless artists who have benefited from the space and the ones who have yet too. It has not been an easy ride but it has definitely been the most rewarding. I have learned to use all my resources, stills and talents in the last few months and I have learned to take things a little bit at a time. If not, looking at all the challenges ahead will become too overwhelming and discouraging,
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If I had a friend coming to Long Beach we would check out, Blackbird Cafe for breakfast, the Long Beach Museum of Art, Museum of Latin American Art, The Fourth Horsemen for Lunch and the Bamboo Club for dinner and live music.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’m shouting out Judy Estrada and Griselda Suarez from the Arts Council for Long Beach for helping myself and Flatline through their community and artist grant process as well as my life partner Edgar Martinez for his endless support and encouragement.
Other: https://www.instagram.com/emunzon/ https://elizabethmunzon.myportfolio.com