In Los Angeles, art resides on concrete walls, buildings, billboards and more. So it's no surprise that you can now see it around Downtown LA and Boyle Heights on another public surface — the bus bench.
Through a collaboration between the non-profit organizations DoArt Foundation and Make Art Public (MAP), a few bus benches throughout the city now display the work of artists Dulce Pinzon and Jon Rafman. The project came to fruition after both organizations worked with and Martin Outdoor Media and Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar (the bus benches reside in his district).
The L.A.-based DoArt Foundation focuses on getting people to create more art and discover new artists. Executive Director Carmen Zella wants the project to “deepen the conversation” about art and more. “It's about having larger dialogues about ideas and important political ideas in our society as well,” says Zella.
The artists and their works speak directly to the themes of travel and also the urban space. Pinzon's photographs show immigrants performing a number of labor tasks while clad in superhero costumes. Rafman takes thrilling screenshots from Google Street View, scouring the world from his computer for small vignettes accidentally caught by the map camera. The photos range from funny to disturbing, including scenes like a man walking towards the camera with what looks like a gun in hand in Brazil, and Goofy in the middle of dancing at a Disneyland resort in Paris.
Both bodies of work operate on a normally ignored surface — a bus bench that many commuters turn their backs on while waiting. Zella feels that the moment when strangers wait for the bus carries “an intimacy” and is “an interesting moment to create that type of interaction” found when two or more people admire a work of art together.
“I believe art should be accessible to the public and MAP always has the best ideas and setting of how to bring art to the people, not the other way around,” says Pinzon in an email.
Both artists also use creative ideas to put across complex messages. Pinzon's photograph of Spider Man washing a high-rise building window places an oftentimes overlook worker in a different light. “I always have ideas that take me by surprise,” says Pinzon.
That surprise is what Zella hopes will spark conversation amongst those who see the works.
“Art can be provocative. It can be beautiful. But ultimately it's about a conversation,” Zella says.
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