Art Billboards Respond to L.A.’s Car Culture


Kerry Tribe's billboard on La Brea Ave, north of Venice Blvd, on the east side of the street, facing north.

Why not exploit L.A.’s much bemoaned car culture to promote fresh artistic endeavors, blending existing architecture, with pop culture and conceptualism? “How Many Billboards?  Art in Stead” includes 21 newly commissioned works by contemporary artists using the alternative medium of billboards. The works engage in an important visual dialogue with L.A.’s heavily commercialized public space.  The exhibition is organized by MAK Center Director Kimberli Meyer with co-curators Lisa Henry, Dr. Nizan Shaked, and Dr. Gloria Sutton, and public art consultant Sara Daleiden.  The billboards are installed simultaneously, dotting the landscape from Beverly Hills to West Hollywood to Silver Lake and everywhere in between.  Amidst the rampant visual pollution in Los Angeles, this special exhibition makes a wonderful case for the need to engage artists in public spaces.

MAK Center Director director Kimberli Meyer explains her team’s curatorial approach:

Los Angeles public space begs for smart art to break up the monotony of everyday media fare, and the billboard provides a fertile position for artists who work critically and site-responsively to test their ideas in urban media space. Contemporary art gains a momentarily broad audience, and city dwellers are extended a daily invitation to reflect and contemplate. Channels are opened for experimentation, innovation, and cultural exchange.

Participating artists include:  Kenneth Anger, Michael Asher, Jennifer Bornstein, Eileen Cowin, Christina Fernandez, Ken Gonzales-Day, Renée Green, Kira Lynn Harris, John Knight, David Lamelas, Brandon Lattu, Daniel Joseph Martinez, Kori Newkirk, Yvonne Rainer, Martha Rosler with Josh Neufeld, Allen Ruppersberg, Allan Sekula, Susan Silton, Kerry Tribe, James Welling, and lauren woods.

Click here for a map of the billboards for your Portable Electronic Device

Click here for a list of public programming associated with the exhibition, including bus tours, filming and discussions

The MAK Center for Art and Architecture creates local, national, and international projects exploring the intersection of contemporary art and architecture.  “How Many Billboards?  Art in Stead” runs through the end of March 2010.

– Emily Waldorf

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