ComplexCon debuts in Long Beach

The publication Complex holds their first Culture Festival, showcasing art, panel disscussions, urban style, and pop-culture

By: Kitiana Adams, Staff Writer

The fog rolled in covering the anxious crowd outside of the Long Beach Convention Center on a hectic Saturday morning, waiting for the doors to open for the very first ComplexCon, a convention showcasing pop-up shops, intelligent panel discussions, urban art and much more that attracted hundreds of Complex fans.

The publication, Complex, collaborated with well known producer and songwriter, Pharrell Williams and contemporary Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, to bring the two day event to life. Williams held the role of being cultural director and host committee-chair while Murakami was ComplexCon’s brand identity director. With the convergence of creators, curators, and most importantly the youth, everyone was able to be a part of the celebration of pop culture.

As excited fans entered the entertainment center, they were greeted by a slammin mix sounds of hip-hop and techno surrounded by moving graphics across the walls designed by Murakami. With this being the annual kick-off for Mark Ecko’s online publication’s highly anticipated event, clothing pop-up shops and art exhibits were still in the process of setting up, but that didn’t stop attendees from rushing to each section to check out what they had to offer.

One of the exhibits that was completed first and caught most of the attention when the doors opened was Mountain Dew’s Camo Collective Experience, a virtual art walk-through that took visitors through the history of the Cubism influenced camouflage and allowed them to interact with a mirror equipped feature with hologram reality technology called a “CamoFlector,” being virtually outfitted with custom Camo Out patterns that would be shown in a virtual music video.

While attendees thoroughly enjoyed checking out the brand and retailing shops like Billionaire Boys Club, PUMA and A Bathing Ape, others spent time checking out cultural art pieces by contemporary artist Patrick Martinez. Martinez had a variety of expressive masterpieces that had their own story attached to them that Black and Brown communities could relate to with one acrylic piece titled Home Grown 1. It depicted a Latina woman breast feeding her newborn a bottle of Coke with a blanket pinned on the acrylic panel, giving the viewer direct contact with the art itself. Vacancy Project, a Los Angeles art collective, showcased their vivid and colorful art section with a canvas that displayed different shades of females’ buttocks overlapping one another, embracing the curves of women.

Traveling all the way from New York, Leslie Ziano wanted to experience something fresh and new that could resonate with the urban crowd. The East Coast native made her rounds around the first floor to check out the retailers and exhibits but finally made her way upstairs to the ComplexConversations, panel discussions that included well-known celebrities such as Jesse Williams, Ice Cube, Angie Martinez, and Tony Hawk. Some of the topics ranged from education to the manner of speaking in a digital world.

“What they’re presenting is very variable, and it can change a lot if they keep doing this year from year from year,” Eziano said.

With Frank Ocean’s smooth tune Nights flowing through the speakers, Ryan Treader enjoyed the conversation on digital media communication as it was his first panel he had attended that day. Treader felt that this was something different and influential. Even though most of the action took place downstairs with lines wrapping around the Nike shop, people emptying their pockets for merchandise from Wiz Khalifia’s Taylor Gang collection, and the rapper Metro Boomin hanging out with fans at the PUMA Lab, the Portland resident felt that the panels were vital.

“It’s not just about the merch, at the end of the day you need the context that goes along with the culture. We can always go online to buy gear but this is important,” said Treader.



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