The future is looking bright for Los Angeles streetlights.
“Vermonica”—a diverse collection of 25 street lamps that for two decades quietly illuminated the parking lot of a shopping center in East Hollywood—will be properly reinstalled.
Artist Sheila Klein announced in an Instagram post on January 1 that she has a contract to rebuild the piece on Santa Monica Boulevard near the Bureau of Street Lighting “with a hopeful opening in early May—the 27th birthday of ‘Vermonica.’” (A street lighting bureau spokesperson confirmed that the goal is to reinstall the artwork the first week of May.)
The news comes in the middle of a public competition to redesign the city’s standard streetlamps, which have long gone ignored or under appreciated.
“Vermonica” kept a low profile until 2017, when it disappeared from the parking lot at Vermont Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard and reappeared in front of the city’s Bureau of Street Lighting office a couple of blocks away.
The piece was originally placed in the shopping center shortly after the 1992 Uprising, when some of the buildings in the shopping center were burned. Klein told the Los Angeles Times in 1993 that she liked the idea of “building on the site of destruction” and the property owners had been supportive of hosting the piece.
The move happened because property owner had contacted the city to ask that the installation be moved to allow for renovations to the lot. But Klein had not been notified that the piece would be relocated, and was not consulted in its re-installation.
“This has been in the public realm for 24 years. It’s outrageous,” Klein told the Los Angeles Times in 2017.
Klein, who had worked with the city for the original installation, said that by moving the work and replacing the streetlights without her consultation, the city had effectively destroyed the artwork.
In a 2017 statement posted to the blog Esotouric, Klein explained, “this is not my piece and it is no longer ‘Vermonica.’”
The issue inflamed public art fans and preservationists, including local historians Richard Schave and Kim Cooper, who operate the Esotouric blog and a tour company of the same name.
In her New Year’s Day post on Instagram announcing the return of the “Vermonica,” Klein credits that outrage for pushing the city to resolve the issue by allowing her to take the reins and re-install the piece.
“A lot has transpired and one silver lining is realizing the impact and support for this work,” Klein wrote.
Correction: An earlier version of this story identified the wrong city department. The Bureau of Street Lighting moved the “Vermonica,” not the Bureau of Street Services.