Los Angeles is blessed with its share of public art, cultural monuments, civic statues and landmark murals, from the abstract to the narrative, interactive, commemorative and cause-based. The popular appeal of the Hollywood Sign, the lore of the Watts Towers, the creativity in appropriating billboards, and the grandeur of the city's many historical murals from Crenshaw to Historic Filipinotown to Olvera Street are all undeniable. But some sculptures and statuary activate space on a more human scale, by simply imagining folks moving through it. So from Chinatown to Staples Center, the Huntington to Hollywood, Venice to Westwood, here are some of our favorite real and symbolic people to encounter in the landscape.
Other Places art fair (OPaf) participants construct site-specific, boothlike setups across the offbeat location; this year, it will be the Battery Leary-Merriam at Angels Gate in San Pedro. Once an army installation, big-gun encampment, missile launch site and other military-industrial functions, it’s also been a film location, public park and studio art center. Not only this richly weird history but the entire grounds are available to the artists, to interact and intervene as they see fit with trees, tunnels, concrete pads, green space, views and architecture.
Sure, everyone loves the dinosaurs and the dioramas, but beyond the paleontological and zoological wonders, the L.A. County Natural History Museum is also a haven for gemology enthusiasts, and really for anyone who loves a crazy-looking rock.
“Enchanted: Forest of Light” is an interactive, nighttime installation of light and sound sculptures installed along a one-mile path through the grounds of Descanso Gardens. While popular with young families, the special appeal of this annual classic goes beyond kid stuff. Anyone interested in sheer low-key delight and childlike wonderment — and let’s face it, grownups can use a bit of that themselves these days — will find a lot to love in this garden of kaleidoscopic wizardry and natural beauty.
A massive lawn of electronic tulips, like the world’s biggest Lite-Brite, changes color and sings with the twinkling, soothing, magic sound of silver bells. A laser show dances across a misty lake. A walkway of celestial stars leads to a garden walk alive with the shadows cast from whirling lanterns. A path of deep red lanterns welcomes visitors to a surreal, otherworldly plane.
A grove of old oaks offers interactive lights like portals to another dimension. A vast lawn is covered with lit-up paths, whose colors change as you walk across them, like a Candyland version of the “Billie Jean” video. A vast grove of quivering trees brings the sky to earth with a forest of tiny lights that sparkle on every leaf and twig, creating a canopy of fairy dust.
Along the way, plenty of hot chocolate (while not quite wintry, it does get chilly at night) and more adult beverages are on offer, and if you book ahead, there’s a version of the ticketing that includes dinner at the on-site restaurant. This event always sells out, so grab your tickets now.
1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada; (818) 949-4200, enchantedla.com. Daily, rain or shine, 5:30-10 p.m., through Jan. 6 (closed Nov. 22, Dec. 24 & Dec. 25); timed entry tickets $30.
The current installation of about 50 ofrendas and Día de los Muertos–themed sculptural installations at downtown’s Grand Park is a heartfelt and homegrown public garden of flowers and art, altars and tributes, and monumental cultural stagings with the flair of the season and the relaxed vibe of a block party.
In collaboration with Self-Help Graphics & Art and Lore Media & Art, Grand Park between Grand Avenue and Spring Street now is home to some 50 altars and art installations created by local artists and community groups that reflect the theme "Looking to the Past to Build the Future." On view daily now through Sunday, Nov. 4, and absolutely free, the park will offer free guided lunchtime tours, which will highlight the artwork and discuss the traditions of the holiday.
An opening-night festival on Saturday, Oct. 27, not only showcased the art installations but also featured a music stage, food trucks (of course) and a huge, eclectic crowd of partygoers ranging from stroller-pushing families to rowdy hipsters in skinny jeans. A huge contingent of folks dressed both in general Halloween randomness and impeccable traditionalist attire enjoyed the works of artists, organizations and real families building altars side by side — from the intimate to the monumental.
There was no mistaking the profusion of signature orange marigolds, beloved for their spicy scent and luminous color. And there was even an unrelated but adjacent appearance by the Baby Trump balloon outside City Hall, courtesy of the Backbone Campaign, and also bright orange.
Art Talks On the River is a series of monthly panel discussions produced by the Los Angeles River Public Art Project and Friends of the Los Angeles River, which began June 9 and will be running until Sept. 8.