Arts News

Mysterious Case of the Downtown L.A. Sunbathers Solved!

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Thu, May 24, 2012 at 3:00 PM

click to enlarge Mama sunbather, now in some federal trash chute somewhere. - FACEBOOK
  • Facebook
  • Mama sunbather, now in some federal trash chute somewhere.
An anonymous tipster (who we would totally bear-hug if he weren't so damn anonymous) has lifted the veil on yesterday's big street-art mystery: Who planted three paper-mache sunbathers in the abandoned lot at 1st and Broadway?

Curbed LA, the Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly and LA Observed all joined in on the hunt, speaking with stunned passersby and county employees...

... many of whom thought, at first glance, that the life-sized mannequins were real people who had chosen to lay out their beach towels in the nasty downtown dirt. But even when they realized it was just an art installation, it still made a great Instagram.

Anyway, to the goods.

Tipsterman tells us the artist's name is Calder Greenwood. After a thorough Facebook stalking, we've determined him to be a 20- or 30something New York transplant who works in film production/photography/graphic design.

Yesterday, when the Times story went up, Greenwood linked to it and wrote "haha made the news!" And one of his friends, in reference to the Times, replied: "Love it!!! You are officially a LA guerilla street artist. Props."

We've messaged him and begged him to tell us more, but you know how guerrilla street artists can be. So we'll just steal some more insights from his Facebook wall:

"There was more water when we decided to do it, but the lack of water kind of works too," says Greenwood.

He posted a "before" photo on Monday...

click to enlarge "secret project!" - CALDER GREENWOOD VIA FACEBOOK
  • Calder Greenwood via Facebook
  • "secret project!"
... and an "after" photo on Tuesday...

click to enlarge "day at the beach" - CALDER GREENWOOD VIA FACEBOOK
  • Calder Greenwood via Facebook
  • "day at the beach"
... and by Wednesday afternoon, he told his friends that the installation had been removed. LA Observed noted yesterday, as well, that Joel Bellman, PIO for L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, "came back by after lunch the family group was gone."

Sad day for the neighborhood.

Bellman tells LA Observed that the sunbathers were "a casualty, no doubt, of the zealous crew at the General Services Administration, charged presumably with 'keeping up the property.' Demonstrating that while the feds may not know art, they know what they don't like."

For more on what the General Services Administration is (read: isn't) doing with the property, see our original post, "L.A. Artist Installs Paper-Mache Sunbathers on Downtown Dirt Plot Abandoned Since 2007."

At least now we know who gets credit for this heartsunning day-long statement on the urban blight created by our very own local and national leaders.

It's equally impressive that Greenwood never stepped forward to take credit for the magic. As Daniel Lahoda, head of L.A. Freewalls, told us in an email: "This is actually quite refreshing to see a Street Artist remain anonymous more than 24hours after being 'discovered'."

[@simone_electra / swilson@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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