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Public Art at Fourth/Broadway Wants You to Enjoy Urban Blight Before It's Gone

Photos by Stephen Ziegler
Photos by Stephen Ziegler

The presence of the derelict building on the corner of Fourth and Broadway in the Historic Core only gets more and more unusual as development dollars continue to swirl around the neighborhood. Hoping to draw some attention to this increasingly rare example of major blight in a rapidly fancifying part of town is a new public art installation of cartoony dynamite and explosions, meant to give viewers "the opportunity to enjoy the often overlooked urban decay" while reminding them that this ramshackle building is living on borrowed time, a release for the installation explains.

The installation—fittingly titled "BOOM!"—is the work of artists S.C. Mero and Wild Life and a firm called Urban Decline Consulting, which focuses on "showcasing the beauty of urban blight through the preservation of dilapidated structures." The artists have adorned the building with five "'Dynomite' bundles" connected to a painting of a detonator straight out of the Looney Tunes universe, and cardboard cutouts of Batman-style booms.

Looking at it now, it's hard to believe the vacant building (once seven stories tall!) was designed by prominent architect John Parkinson, whose work on other DTLA structures like City Hall and building that houses Grand Central Market, have aged much more gracefully. A huge fire in 2007 made the building into the haunted-house-like structure that's there today; the building is in more or less the same state that it was right after the fire, except now there's scaffolding up around the exterior. This spot is a magnet for graffiti artists and illegally posted ads, which gives it a certain look that definitely represents a Downtown that, for better or worse or a mixture of both, is quickly disappearing.

· Broadway Fire: The Aftermath [Curbed LA}