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The 2013 Map Guide to Finding Public Art All Over Los Angeles

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It's been a while since we've overhauled and updated our map guide to some of the best/most notable/weirdest public art around Los Angeles, and there's all kinds of new stuff to see. Do you like giant rainbows? Enormous boulders? Mid-century mosaics? Batman-itechture? Chandelier trees? All here, plus more in the latest edition. Take a browse and then get out there and enjoy, please!

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"America Tropical" by David Alfaro Siqueiros

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"America Tropical" was painted on the Italian Hall at El Pueblo in 1932, but whitewashed shortly after. The mural recently finished up a long-term conservation.

Almost Invisible Boxes by Joshua Callaghan

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Don't embarrass yourself by walking into one of these nine crafty pieces--they blend into the Downtown CC landscape at first, but they're actually utility boxes wrapped in vinyl that's printed with images of the surrounding area.

"Parking" by Banksy

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This Banksy piece went up in the spring of 2010 on the side of jewelry designer Tarina Tarantino's Sparkle Factory Downtown. Unlike other Banksys around town, it's stayed intact.

Elvis Presley, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Marilyn Monroe, Beatles by Hector Ponce

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Hollywood specializes in odd celebrity murals--these are some of the most recognizable ones, painted in 2001 on the side of the seedy Harvey Apartments.

Beehive by Eric Owen Moss

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Architect Eric Owen Moss has built all kind of wild stuff in Culver City's Hayden Tract. The Beehive is part of an office building--its made up of four columns wrapped in a staircase.

"The Wall Project"

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Ten original segments of the Berlin Wall arrived in Los Angeles in late 2009; they were installed on Wilshire Blvd. and painted by artists including Kent Twitchell and Thierry Noir. According to the Wende Museum, which brought them to LA, they "form the longest stretch of this iconic historical monument outside of Berlin."

Sidewalk terrazzo by Arthur D. Pizzinat, Sr.

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The sidewalk terrazzo in front of Clifton's Cafeteria on Broadway dates back to the thirties and includes representations of SoCal landmarks including City Hall, the Coliseum, and the Tar Pits.

"Blacklist" by Jenny Holzer

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In 1999, faculty in USC's Filmic Writing Program commissioned "Blacklist," which consists of ten stone benches engraved with quotes from members of the blacklisted Hollywood Ten. The piece sits in a garden designed by Professor Achva Benzinberg Stein.

"Motordom" by Keith Sonnier

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"Motordom" is four stories of neon and argon tubes that send red and blue light flashing around Caltrans District 7's outdoor lobby, through its glass walls, and into the building (which was designed by Morphosis). According to the Department of Transportation, it's the largest public art installation in LA.

"Cradle" by Ball-Nogues

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"Cradle" is made up of hundreds of stainless steel balls hanging in office toy formation off the side of the parking structure at the Santa Monica Place mall. The piece went up in the summer of 2010.

"Drive By" by Electroland

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"Drive By" is 240 feet of scrolling LED movie quotes ("If you build it, they will come," for instance), and it went up and came down pretty quickly back in 2007, when the city decided it qualified as an advertisement. After a long fight, the piece went back up on NoHo Commons in early 2011.

"Four Arches" by Alexander Calder

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Calder's sculpture is 63 feet tall and bright orangey red, so it stands out on Bunker Hill, where it sits in the Bank of America Building's plaza. According to the Community Redevelopment Agency of LA, which commissioned the piece in the seventies, its "main curves stem from one main spine and race through the sky like steel ribbons."

"Luminous Sphere" by Piero Golia

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Golia helpfully put up this Golia-tracker on top of the Standard Hotel in early 2010--it's lit up only when the artist is in Los Angeles.

"Great Wall of Los Angeles" by Judith Baca

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The Great Wall of Los Angeles stretches for a half a mile along the Tujunga Flood Control Channel and tells the history of California starting in the prehistoric era. It was started in 1974 and painted by hundred of young locals, along with artists and other community members. The Social and Public Art Resource Center, the group that created the mural, has been working on a major restoration and extension.

Hollywood/Vine Red Line Station by Gilbert “Magu” Lujan

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For the subway station at the most famous intersection in town, Lujan (with Miralles Associates, Inc.) went all out on the theme, as Metro describes: "Bus shelter designs make reference to Grauman's Chinese Theater, a stretch limousine, and the Brown Derby Restaurant. The elevator entrance resembles a movie theater with its marquee greeting riders on the street. From the street level plaza down to the subway platform, passengers follow paving which recalls the yellow brick road from the 'Wizard of Oz' and pass by 240 hand painted art tiles on the station walls. The interior handrailing design houses the musical notes to the song 'Hooray for Hollywood.' The interior of the station contains various artifacts and references to the film industry. Film reels decorate the ceiling while two original film projectors from the 1930s, donated by Paramount Pictures, are on exhibit."

"Inverted Clocktower" by Tim Hawkinson

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The "Inverted Clocktower" is made to look like the relief of a clocktower that was magically removed whole from the corner of the Grand Central Market's parking structure. The Community Redevelopment Agency of LA describes: "the brickwork and masonry of this fictitious clocktower are 'recorded' by a mold made from the poured concrete walls and walkways of the new garage building. To further confound the viewer with its paradoxical presence/absence, the clocktower's clock dials run counterclockwise and the Roman numerals are reversed."

"sixbeaststwomonkeys" by Peter Shelton

Copy Link

What are the sculptures of "sixbeaststwomonkeys," which sit alongside the LAPD headquarters Downtown? Then-Chief Bill Bratton guessed at "some kind of cow splat" when they were installed in 2009. Headless animals? Creepy babies? Who knows, but everyone seems to have an odd fondness for them anyway.

LAX Pylons by Paul Tzanetopoulos/Ted Tokio Tanaka

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Thanks to Hollywood, the pylons and LAX letters at LAX are familiar the world over after only 11 years in place. The letters are 32 feet high; the 26 pylons range from 25 to 60 feet along Century Blvd. and hit 100 feet at Century and Sepulveda. The lights were replaced with LEDs in 2006--they "burn less electricity while providing more vibrant hues," according to Los Angeles World Airports. However, the pylons' electricity still costs the airport $18,000 a year.

"TEUCLA" by Richard Serra

Copy Link

"TEUCLA" is 42.5 tons of signature Serra, a "torqued ellipse" twisting its way around the plaza of the Broad Art Center at UCLA. When it was installed in 2006, it was "the first work by the artist to be on permanent view in a public space in Southern California," according to the Art Center.

"Fork in the Road" by Ken Marshall

Copy Link

Pasadena's giant fork in the road (really in a Caltrans median) first went up in the dead of night in 2009, as a birthday prank for a comedy club owner. Everyone took such a shine to it, that, after some time off the road, it was stuck in permanently in October 2011.

"Urban Light" by Chris Burden

Copy Link

Los Angeles's own Eiffel Tower (or Empire State Building or London Eye or whatever) is made up of 202 cast iron streetlamps, all of which once stood on LA streets. The lights are now solar powered and come on every night from dusk until dawn. If you don't want to stand on Wilshire watching them all night, they do have their own "virtual flipbook" app.

Venice Art Walls by Anyone With a Permit

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The Venice Art Walls are open for painting by any artist with a permit and the urge (on weekends and holidays anyway). They're curated by In Creative Unity, a "graffitti arts advocacy group," that "has lead the movement to preserve the walls as a living memorial to the high quality graffiti style art which has taken place on these walls for over thirty years."

Beverly/Vermont Red Line Station by George Stone

Copy Link

Stone, perhaps eponymously, created rocky outcroppings throughout this subway station. According to Metro, they're "based on the actual geology of this location."

Watts Towers by Simon Rodia

Copy Link

Italian immigrant Simon Rodia built the three Watts Towers by hand over three decades, from the 1920s through the 1950s--they're made up of steel rods wrapped in wire mesh, coated in cement and embedded with shells, ceramic shards, pieces of bottle, and other trinkets. While admission will cost you, they're visible from all over the neighborhood.

"Forever Marilyn" by Seward Johnson

Copy Link

The 26-foot-tall recreation of Marilyn Monroe's iconic Seven Year Itch grate photo provides so many opportunities for gag photography. It's just extended its run in PS through March.

"Miss Mao Trying to Poise Herself at the Top of Lenin's Head" by Gao Zhen and Gao Qiang

Copy Link

This giant chrome statue of Vladimir Lenin's head (with a little tightrope walker on top) really livens up the drive down La Brea. The piece caused quite the stir at the Vancouver Sculpture Biennale in 2009 and showed up in LA in late 2011.

On Saturdays by Robbert Flick

Copy Link

Flick's photographs at the Expo Line's Expo/USC station were taken every few seconds as he drove around this neighborhood, capturing Adams, Jefferson, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and other surrounding streets.

Neighborhood Portrait: Reconstructed by Jessica Polzin McCoy

Copy Link

At the Expo Line's Expo/Vermont station, these watercolor collages "describe the window frames, doorways and garden gates that define the architecture of entryways" in West Adams. On the platform, there are "similarly assembled paintings of local residents seated in the interiors of their homes."

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar statue by Rottblatt-Amrany

Copy Link

For the art-loving sports fan or the sports-loving arts fan, the statue of Abdul-Jabbar (in skyhook position) joined the small group of statues outside Staples last year. You can also see Magic Johnson, Jerry West, Chick Hearn, Oscar de la Hoya, and Wayne Gretzky.

Cowboy cutouts by Justin Stadel

Copy Link

Artist Stadel originally put up cutouts of fake cowboy figures--like Clint Eastwood and Gene Autry--on a hill above the 2 Freeway to amuse commuters. Eventually he donated the works (and more) to Glendale.

"League of Shadows" by P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S

Copy Link

Faculty members won a competition to design this SCI-Arc graduation pavilion, which gets its name from its sunblocking powers. It'll sit in the school's parking lot for four or five years.

"Weather Field No. 1" by Inigo Manglano-Ovalle

Copy Link

This piece in beautiful new Tongva Park is composed of 49 stainless steel poles, each with a weather vane and anenometer, which allows it to create its own very tiny microclimate.

Chandelier tree by Adam Tanenbaum

Copy Link

Artist/contractor/set-builder Adam Tenenbaum started stringing up spare chandeliers in the tree outside his house one day with the help of his aerialist roommate, and several years later the neighborhood is in love with this lovely piece. Only in Silver Lake, probably.

"Black Totems" by Herb Alpert

Copy Link

Oozy sculptures from artist/Tijuana Brass leader Alpert distract from construction on the Expo Line extension and extend the reach of the Bergamot Station Art Center.

"Rainbow" by Tony Tasset

Copy Link

It's not entirely public, but you can see this enormous rainbow from several spots in Culver City. The piece is supposedly a tribute to The Wizard of Oz, which was shot on the MGM (now Sony) lot.

WPA mosaics by Grace Clements

Copy Link

A Long Beach Airport renovation project unearthed these awesome 1941 floor mosaics commissioned by Clements--they were hidden under carpet for years.

"Levitated Mass" by Michael Heizer

Copy Link

Los Angeles waited a long time for monumental "Levitated Mass," a 340-ton boulder resting on a 456-foot-long walk-through trench on LACMA's northwest corner, but it'll be around a while (roughly 3,500 years?). The region was captivated by the boulder's move from Riverside, then decided they were too cool for the finished project. Don't be too cool for "Levitated Mass"!

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"America Tropical" by David Alfaro Siqueiros

"America Tropical" was painted on the Italian Hall at El Pueblo in 1932, but whitewashed shortly after. The mural recently finished up a long-term conservation.

Almost Invisible Boxes by Joshua Callaghan

Don't embarrass yourself by walking into one of these nine crafty pieces--they blend into the Downtown CC landscape at first, but they're actually utility boxes wrapped in vinyl that's printed with images of the surrounding area.

"Parking" by Banksy

This Banksy piece went up in the spring of 2010 on the side of jewelry designer Tarina Tarantino's Sparkle Factory Downtown. Unlike other Banksys around town, it's stayed intact.

Elvis Presley, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Marilyn Monroe, Beatles by Hector Ponce

Hollywood specializes in odd celebrity murals--these are some of the most recognizable ones, painted in 2001 on the side of the seedy Harvey Apartments.

Beehive by Eric Owen Moss

Architect Eric Owen Moss has built all kind of wild stuff in Culver City's Hayden Tract. The Beehive is part of an office building--its made up of four columns wrapped in a staircase.

"The Wall Project"

Ten original segments of the Berlin Wall arrived in Los Angeles in late 2009; they were installed on Wilshire Blvd. and painted by artists including Kent Twitchell and Thierry Noir. According to the Wende Museum, which brought them to LA, they "form the longest stretch of this iconic historical monument outside of Berlin."

Sidewalk terrazzo by Arthur D. Pizzinat, Sr.

The sidewalk terrazzo in front of Clifton's Cafeteria on Broadway dates back to the thirties and includes representations of SoCal landmarks including City Hall, the Coliseum, and the Tar Pits.

"Blacklist" by Jenny Holzer

In 1999, faculty in USC's Filmic Writing Program commissioned "Blacklist," which consists of ten stone benches engraved with quotes from members of the blacklisted Hollywood Ten. The piece sits in a garden designed by Professor Achva Benzinberg Stein.

"Motordom" by Keith Sonnier

"Motordom" is four stories of neon and argon tubes that send red and blue light flashing around Caltrans District 7's outdoor lobby, through its glass walls, and into the building (which was designed by Morphosis). According to the Department of Transportation, it's the largest public art installation in LA.

"Cradle" by Ball-Nogues

"Cradle" is made up of hundreds of stainless steel balls hanging in office toy formation off the side of the parking structure at the Santa Monica Place mall. The piece went up in the summer of 2010.

"Drive By" by Electroland

"Drive By" is 240 feet of scrolling LED movie quotes ("If you build it, they will come," for instance), and it went up and came down pretty quickly back in 2007, when the city decided it qualified as an advertisement. After a long fight, the piece went back up on NoHo Commons in early 2011.

"Four Arches" by Alexander Calder

Calder's sculpture is 63 feet tall and bright orangey red, so it stands out on Bunker Hill, where it sits in the Bank of America Building's plaza. According to the Community Redevelopment Agency of LA, which commissioned the piece in the seventies, its "main curves stem from one main spine and race through the sky like steel ribbons."

"Luminous Sphere" by Piero Golia

Golia helpfully put up this Golia-tracker on top of the Standard Hotel in early 2010--it's lit up only when the artist is in Los Angeles.

"Great Wall of Los Angeles" by Judith Baca

The Great Wall of Los Angeles stretches for a half a mile along the Tujunga Flood Control Channel and tells the history of California starting in the prehistoric era. It was started in 1974 and painted by hundred of young locals, along with artists and other community members. The Social and Public Art Resource Center, the group that created the mural, has been working on a major restoration and extension.

Hollywood/Vine Red Line Station by Gilbert “Magu” Lujan

For the subway station at the most famous intersection in town, Lujan (with Miralles Associates, Inc.) went all out on the theme, as Metro describes: "Bus shelter designs make reference to Grauman's Chinese Theater, a stretch limousine, and the Brown Derby Restaurant. The elevator entrance resembles a movie theater with its marquee greeting riders on the street. From the street level plaza down to the subway platform, passengers follow paving which recalls the yellow brick road from the 'Wizard of Oz' and pass by 240 hand painted art tiles on the station walls. The interior handrailing design houses the musical notes to the song 'Hooray for Hollywood.' The interior of the station contains various artifacts and references to the film industry. Film reels decorate the ceiling while two original film projectors from the 1930s, donated by Paramount Pictures, are on exhibit."

"Inverted Clocktower" by Tim Hawkinson

The "Inverted Clocktower" is made to look like the relief of a clocktower that was magically removed whole from the corner of the Grand Central Market's parking structure. The Community Redevelopment Agency of LA describes: "the brickwork and masonry of this fictitious clocktower are 'recorded' by a mold made from the poured concrete walls and walkways of the new garage building. To further confound the viewer with its paradoxical presence/absence, the clocktower's clock dials run counterclockwise and the Roman numerals are reversed."

"sixbeaststwomonkeys" by Peter Shelton

What are the sculptures of "sixbeaststwomonkeys," which sit alongside the LAPD headquarters Downtown? Then-Chief Bill Bratton guessed at "some kind of cow splat" when they were installed in 2009. Headless animals? Creepy babies? Who knows, but everyone seems to have an odd fondness for them anyway.

LAX Pylons by Paul Tzanetopoulos/Ted Tokio Tanaka

Thanks to Hollywood, the pylons and LAX letters at LAX are familiar the world over after only 11 years in place. The letters are 32 feet high; the 26 pylons range from 25 to 60 feet along Century Blvd. and hit 100 feet at Century and Sepulveda. The lights were replaced with LEDs in 2006--they "burn less electricity while providing more vibrant hues," according to Los Angeles World Airports. However, the pylons' electricity still costs the airport $18,000 a year.

"TEUCLA" by Richard Serra

"TEUCLA" is 42.5 tons of signature Serra, a "torqued ellipse" twisting its way around the plaza of the Broad Art Center at UCLA. When it was installed in 2006, it was "the first work by the artist to be on permanent view in a public space in Southern California," according to the Art Center.

"Fork in the Road" by Ken Marshall

Pasadena's giant fork in the road (really in a Caltrans median) first went up in the dead of night in 2009, as a birthday prank for a comedy club owner. Everyone took such a shine to it, that, after some time off the road, it was stuck in permanently in October 2011.

"Urban Light" by Chris Burden

Los Angeles's own Eiffel Tower (or Empire State Building or London Eye or whatever) is made up of 202 cast iron streetlamps, all of which once stood on LA streets. The lights are now solar powered and come on every night from dusk until dawn. If you don't want to stand on Wilshire watching them all night, they do have their own "virtual flipbook" app.

Venice Art Walls by Anyone With a Permit

The Venice Art Walls are open for painting by any artist with a permit and the urge (on weekends and holidays anyway). They're curated by In Creative Unity, a "graffitti arts advocacy group," that "has lead the movement to preserve the walls as a living memorial to the high quality graffiti style art which has taken place on these walls for over thirty years."

Beverly/Vermont Red Line Station by George Stone

Stone, perhaps eponymously, created rocky outcroppings throughout this subway station. According to Metro, they're "based on the actual geology of this location."

Watts Towers by Simon Rodia

Italian immigrant Simon Rodia built the three Watts Towers by hand over three decades, from the 1920s through the 1950s--they're made up of steel rods wrapped in wire mesh, coated in cement and embedded with shells, ceramic shards, pieces of bottle, and other trinkets. While admission will cost you, they're visible from all over the neighborhood.

"Forever Marilyn" by Seward Johnson

The 26-foot-tall recreation of Marilyn Monroe's iconic Seven Year Itch grate photo provides so many opportunities for gag photography. It's just extended its run in PS through March.

"Miss Mao Trying to Poise Herself at the Top of Lenin's Head" by Gao Zhen and Gao Qiang

This giant chrome statue of Vladimir Lenin's head (with a little tightrope walker on top) really livens up the drive down La Brea. The piece caused quite the stir at the Vancouver Sculpture Biennale in 2009 and showed up in LA in late 2011.

On Saturdays by Robbert Flick

Flick's photographs at the Expo Line's Expo/USC station were taken every few seconds as he drove around this neighborhood, capturing Adams, Jefferson, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and other surrounding streets.

Neighborhood Portrait: Reconstructed by Jessica Polzin McCoy

At the Expo Line's Expo/Vermont station, these watercolor collages "describe the window frames, doorways and garden gates that define the architecture of entryways" in West Adams. On the platform, there are "similarly assembled paintings of local residents seated in the interiors of their homes."

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar statue by Rottblatt-Amrany

For the art-loving sports fan or the sports-loving arts fan, the statue of Abdul-Jabbar (in skyhook position) joined the small group of statues outside Staples last year. You can also see Magic Johnson, Jerry West, Chick Hearn, Oscar de la Hoya, and Wayne Gretzky.

Cowboy cutouts by Justin Stadel

Artist Stadel originally put up cutouts of fake cowboy figures--like Clint Eastwood and Gene Autry--on a hill above the 2 Freeway to amuse commuters. Eventually he donated the works (and more) to Glendale.

"League of Shadows" by P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S

Faculty members won a competition to design this SCI-Arc graduation pavilion, which gets its name from its sunblocking powers. It'll sit in the school's parking lot for four or five years.

"Weather Field No. 1" by Inigo Manglano-Ovalle

This piece in beautiful new Tongva Park is composed of 49 stainless steel poles, each with a weather vane and anenometer, which allows it to create its own very tiny microclimate.

Chandelier tree by Adam Tanenbaum

Artist/contractor/set-builder Adam Tenenbaum started stringing up spare chandeliers in the tree outside his house one day with the help of his aerialist roommate, and several years later the neighborhood is in love with this lovely piece. Only in Silver Lake, probably.

"Black Totems" by Herb Alpert

Oozy sculptures from artist/Tijuana Brass leader Alpert distract from construction on the Expo Line extension and extend the reach of the Bergamot Station Art Center.

"Rainbow" by Tony Tasset

It's not entirely public, but you can see this enormous rainbow from several spots in Culver City. The piece is supposedly a tribute to The Wizard of Oz, which was shot on the MGM (now Sony) lot.

WPA mosaics by Grace Clements

A Long Beach Airport renovation project unearthed these awesome 1941 floor mosaics commissioned by Clements--they were hidden under carpet for years.

"Levitated Mass" by Michael Heizer

Los Angeles waited a long time for monumental "Levitated Mass," a 340-ton boulder resting on a 456-foot-long walk-through trench on LACMA's northwest corner, but it'll be around a while (roughly 3,500 years?). The region was captivated by the boulder's move from Riverside, then decided they were too cool for the finished project. Don't be too cool for "Levitated Mass"!