Here's the difference between Florida and California:
When a giant 8-foot-tall Lego man washes up on the beach as part of a guerilla art project, Florida cops detain him and hold him in custody (as we saw last October).
But when the same thing happened early this morning at L.A. County's Topanga Beach…
… “law enforcement didn't do anything,” says Hailey Hamilton, a PR person for the Lab Art gallery on 2nd and La Brea, where the artist behind the Lego man will be featured in a one-day exhibit tomorrow.
“He's still at the beach,” she says of the Lego man, “and people are still just taking pictures of him.”
Why has the reaction in California been so much more relaxed? Hamilton's theory is that “Everyone is just really friendly in California. Even the lifeguards and beach patrol are taking pictures.”
Of that phenomenon, she sends us photo evidence (see left; click to enlarge).
Then there's the fact that guerilla street art has become almost commonplace in Los Angeles. If your gallery exhibit isn't foreshadowed by a defaced Sunset Strip billboard or ruby slippers/teddy bears hanging from telephone lines, you're not doing it right. And a series of paper-mache statements around downtown L.A. recently demonstrated that all an artist has to do for some media attention is throw a life-sized surfer on a dirt plot, then hide in the bushes and watch smugly as everyone frenzies to uncover his identity.
In the not-so-mysterious case of the Lego surfer, we know exactly who planted him in the Pacific: An international artist who goes by Ego Leonard. He's pulled similar stunts in the Netherlands, the UK and Florida, all with the same 8-foot model.
TIME Magazine named the Florida incident one of the “Top 10 Oddball-News Stories of 2011.”
The same event today, however, has received almost no press (or police) coverage, aside from a small “iReport” on CNN.com. It appears this art project is either old news by now, or we Angelenos are just more accustomed to strange radioactive odds 'n' ends floating up during our picnics. Welcome to the party, 8-foot Lego man!
If no one shows up to confiscate the sculpture in the next couple hours, Hamilton says the gallery will come retrieve him. Kind of anticlimactic — but maybe that's become the jaded reality of street-art-saturated Los Angeles.
Anyway, we'll bite. This guy is awesome. And the local surfers think so too.
UP NEXT: Our favorite photos of Topanga Beachgoers posing (and not posing) with Lego man today.
If you run down to Topanga before sunset, you might still have a chance to snap a pic with this amazing existential sculpture dude before his trip to Lab Art. Tweet them to us, and we'll gladly add you to the hall of fame.
Update, July 12, 8:45 a.m.: A reader named Tom Merchant sent us this one — a perfect depiction of the nonchalance with which L.A. greeted Lego man yesterday. Nothing to see here…