High/Low Art: LA Billboards


In New York, street art is tagged on the sides of buildings and pasted on empty storefronts. In Los Angeles, a city of automatic transmissions and three-hour traffic, public art may best be presented, well, on a billboard. The MAK Center for Art & Architecture is doing just that: it has selected 21 contemporary artists to make their marks on decommissioned billboards all over West Hollywood, from Sunset Boulevard to the Santa Monica Freeway. How Many Billboards? — up through the end of March — is intended as a reflective tool in the middle of quotidian life; as the director for the project notes, “Channels are opened for experimentation, innovation, and cultural exchange.” Replacing media noise with smart art in an urban space? We like. Peep a few of the billboards after the jump and let us know your favorites.

Kori Newkirk

Fast Company reports:

At least five years in the making, How Many Billboards? Art In Stead was organized by the MAK Center (who also co-operates the Schindler House in West Hollywood). When Kimberli Meyer was appointed its director in 2002, she began the arduous process of raising enough money to swap sweating Bud Light bottles with the sharp wordplay of [the billboards]. The break came when she met Rick Robinson, who works for MacDonald Media and negotiated on the MAK Center’s behalf with behemoths like Clear Channel, CBS Outdoor, and Van Wagner. In fact, the show capitalized on the fact that ad sales for the billboards were down, said Meyer last night on a preview ride. “This could never have happened three years ago.”

Kerry Tribe

David Lamelas

Kenneth Anger

Jennifer Bornstein

Yvonne Rainier

Check out the interactive Google map here. All photos by Gerard Smulevich, courtesy of MAK Center for Art & Architecture.