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Turning Silver Lake's Neglected Bates Motel Into a Giant Public Art Piece

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Photos by Elizabeth Daniels

Work has been going on for about a week at Silver Lake's dilapidated old Bates Motel that will turn it into a towering white public art piece called Projection, by French artist Vincent Lamouroux. Lamouroux tells Curbed he used a crew of painters armed with sprayers and giant hoses to cover the Sunset Boulevard hotel in an "ecologically safe" limewash. It only took them a week, by his estimate, to get the bulk of the work done, but they're still working here and likely will be until Friday to make sure every part of the building and its surroundings is totally covered. It's quite the send-off for this seedy landmark before it is (ultimately) razed for a mixed-user.

This project, announced last October, is probably the first time in a long time that the old inn (aka the Sunset Pacific) has gotten so much attention. The Bates—whose nickname is as much a callback to Psycho as it is to the motel's location near the intersection of Bates and Sunset—has been vacant for decades, except for the squatters and the occasional, totally fun-looking, likely illegal party.

The city was set to demolish the raggedy motel in 2009, but developers Frost/Chaddock bought the property with the intention of putting one of a trio of mixed-users on the site. F/C was a big supporter of the artwork and Lamouroux. Eventually, Frost/Chaddock will demolish the great white hotel to make way for the largest of its three planned developments: a 122-unit building with almost 5,000 square feet (combined) of retail and restaurant space, a 4,519-square-foot gym/recreational space for residents, and 165 parking spaces in two levels of underground parking.

Projection is ephemeral by design, and the limewash will wear away. Until then, Lamouroux says he is really excited about the way so many people are already interacting with it: pulling over and taking pictures of it, going out of their way to walk by and take pictures with it, then posting them on Instagram and Facebook, sharing the artwork with their own spin on it. Sprayed bright white and looking like a giant bleached bone in the desert, it's intended to both attract attention and disrupt the colorful "commercial landscape" that surrounds it on this part of bustling Sunset Boulevard, and seems to be doing both.

Though the transformed structure doesn't officially open up until April 26, Curbed got a peek around and inside (where it's unlikely regular visitors will be able to go) the Bates one last time. *Updated 4/21: Some photos have been removed at the request of the artist.

· Vincent Lamouroux: A Time and Site-Specific Intervention [Official site]
· Derelict Bates Motel Might Get Covered in White Powder for Art [Curbed LA]
· Here's the New Look For Three Sunset Junction Gamechangers [Curbed LA]
· City OKs Demolition of Silver Lake's Bates Motel [Curbed LA]