We took a look into Long Beach’s Headquarters and VCR Gallery on 4th Street Retro Row, a creative hub where local artists, musicians and skaters can create and flourish. Co-founder Nat Iosbaker showed us around the depths of the local hot spot for creatives to come and express themselves while making a positive impact in the community.
Interview by: Tracy Negrete
Photos by: Mario Gorman
Tracy Negrete: Tell us about your space.
Nat Iosbaker: The VCR Gallery and Headquarters on 4th, spearheaded by Jaime Perez, SPARC, Lindsay Shaver, GAMBLE, Big T Tacos, Marko’s Treats, TekBots, and myself, among many others, is a community gathering of young businesses and artists. We revolve around the brick-and-mortar store front of a skate shop, punk store, cell phone repair, and print shop, which have been on the block for five years. We are the neighborhood meet up spot to explore different local talent and invest in people who take initiatives in their community. We have directly affected the climate of Alamitos Beach district (in between East Arts Village and Retro Row) on 4th through arts events, music recording and performances, screen-printing services, and community meals.
TN: How did the Gallery come about?
NI: The Gallery came about in response to several events and local businesses. Primarily, after hosting several art shows, we decided that the adjacent storefront could be used to legitimize our commissioned artwork sales, and create a space for us to gather and conceive of future projects. Secondly, the closing of The Wahl Street Art Supply left a void on the block for self-run art events and celebrations. We decided to open the doors of VCR Gallery to artists and organizers to offer access to fabulous local talent.
TN: What kind of impact do you envision Headquarters having on the community?
NI: We have seen that youth who are involved in artistic, athletic, and entrepreneurial projects have learned tools to become autonomous and self sustaining individuals. We have also seen a spike in local business success – from the local bar The Stache (buy a shirt), whose owners live in the neighborhood and support local artists, to the taqueria La Frida (buy a mulita), whose walls were painted by artists from our shop. We hope to continue elevating this neighborhood through consciously beautifying, feeding, educating, and supporting those who work and live here.
TN: What does the future hold for Headquarters?
NI: We are currently planning more shows, murals, commissioned artworks, and most excitingly, a block-wide art walk for our neighborhood. We plan to host the first art walk in the spring [the art walk took place April 23rd]. Stay tuned!
TN: What makes you different from any other galleries and shops in Long Beach?
NI: I think that our malleable sense of business is unique, in that we have used the shop as a catalyst and learning tool for multiple young business and artistic thinkers. I like seeing a space that can host the spectrum of events that we have been able to do: underground rap battle (Queen of the Ring), women’s boxers fashion show (Charlie Dapper), Star Wars art show (ART WARS in conjunction with Casket Cult), a Thanksgiving potluck, a sign painters hobo show (LECH PUNKS/ LA Trade Tech), a graffiti battle, and Long Beach Zine Fest 2015 (with one upcoming in 2016).
TN: What would it take for an artist to show in the Gallery or participate in Headquarters?
NI: Roll through. Come sit on our bench made of skateboards and chat with us in the afternoons – this is when the best ideas come up.
Otherwise, follow us and our friends on Instagram: @VCRGallery, @Topsekoms, @Deadrockers, @Markostreats, @Bigttacos, @Sparc_EG, and me, ya boi, @natiosbaker.