West Hollywood Public Art

by davidpressman

Kenny Scharf

If you find yourself driving north or south on San Vicente Blvd. in West Hollywood, drive slowly as you cross Melrose Ave. because on either side of you will be one of Los Angeles Counties best public art exhibitions. The brand new West Hollywood Public Library has turned over its massive exterior walls to a handful of street artists to create huge outdoor murals. The effects are a welcome visual relief to spaces that otherwise might have been sold for advertising revenue.

According to a recent Los Angeles Times article the idea for filling these space with art came from MOCA Director Jeffrey Deitch, during a tour of the library while it was under construction. According to Andrew Campbell, West Hollywood’s cultural affairs administrator, “Deitch saw the walls and thought they would make an ideal extension of the museum’s “Art in the Streets” exhibition.

Joining Scharf with exterior works are Shepard Fairey and Retna.

Across San Vicente on the grounds of the Pacific Design Center’s front lawn, adding to the giant chair and desk lamp that anchor the east and west sides of the building’s Melrose Ave. face is an exhibition called Eleven Heavy Things by the artist Miranda July.

This art invites interaction and begs to be photographed with friends faces protruding from the art, etc.,  Unfortunately the PDC is somewhat, and that’s putting it mildly, protective of it’s “public” spaces and employs full-time guards to prevent the actual public from stepping foot onto its pristine patches of perfectly green grass. And having been chased off the grass before, not to mention being asked to vacate the outdoor sitting area adjacent to the circular food kiosk, one Sunday afternoon not too long ago, because #1 it was private property and #2 only available for actual human use if the kiosk was open (ok, clearly one can’t jump up on the giant chair and relax with a book, but these chairs just sit unused for more hours than they are available for us, begging neighborhood riff-raff like me to bring a paper or book and settle into one of the chairs and enjoy the quiet space) my photos of this art do not do Ms. July’s installation justice. So I suggest that you the reader (and that assumes that anyone is reading this) walk or drive over, park in the new parking lot at the new library (the parking lot is open already), and see everything on your own visual terms.

And kudo’s to the City of West Hollywood for using the exterior of the new library as an extension of the learning facility housed within its very walls, for exposing anyone who cares to look up and see art. Real art. Public art. Free art.