Meet the Artists Turning the Billboards of Los Angeles Into Works of Art
The other day, I spent the afternoon cruising down the street in my ‘64 (okay, it was really my Prius, and I wasn’t jocking any bitches or slapping any hoes). I was cruising down Santa Monica Boulevard when a billboard caught my eye: a James Turrell-like photograph of a large, abstract pink light with the name “Jack Pierson” next to the photograph. Then, as I was heading west on Melrose I saw another billboard with the familiar name of Ed Ruscha on it. There was no advertisement to be seen.
When I got home, I immediately Googled the names and started researching their work, thinking they had an upcoming exhibit in LA. They didn’t. My Google search grew more inquisitive and specific until I stumbled upon “The Billboard Creative”.
The Billboard Creative, founded a few years ago in Los Angeles, is a non-profit organization that takes unused billboards and turns them into public art. TBC is run by artists and art enthusiasts for the sake of other artists and art enthusiasts while expanding the audience for art. Anybody can submit art to be considered for these unused billboards, and “exhibitions,” if they can truly be called that, are broken up into quarters, with a different curator and artists each time. The most recent Quarter, Quarter 4 (despite being the second installation), went up on December 1st. The growth of the non-profit has been successful in getting people talking about the billboards, which have been the center of a number of controversies in Los Angeles due to their distracting nature for drivers.
Mona Kuhn, the current curator, said she “wanted to stop traffic with art”. Kuhn is a photographer herself, best known for her dream-like photography of the human form. Under her guidance, The Billboard Creative has grown quickly past its own inception – the first installation from last spring featured only 14 billboards, compared to the 33 billboards that took over in December, and features several dozen artists, primarily including work by the following.
Jack Pierson works in several different mediums, ranging from sculpture and photography to drawings and installations. Pierson leads to a more abstract style of sculptures and collages. As an openly gay artist, many of his photographs are images of men shot in a casual, erotic fashion.
Perhaps the most recognizable name on the billboards, Ruscha is an American artist best associated with the pop art movement. Ruscha has worked in mediums of painting, printmaking, drawing, photography, and film. The LA based artist has had a wildly successful career, with one of his collections being installed in the White House in 2009.
Shannon Rose, a student at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena was the only student chosen to be a part of the show this year. The photographer takes ordinary type photographs that make the audience look beyond the surface.
Lee’s work draws on natural abstractions of the world as she is heavily influenced by aspects of biology and psychology. Lee has experimented with various mediums, but painting is her niche, as she claims she “likes the immediacy of painting”. Her work can be described as a controlled doodling process, with an emphasis of line formations.
Another emerging artist of note is Laura Niubo, who in addition to being a visual artist, works as an art director at an advertising agency, where she designs advertisements for Apple. Niubo’s ongoing works of “Colorful Spaces” and “Colorful Labs” are heavily focused on geometry and color. “Colorful Spaces” studies geometry drawings from math and science books, and eventually inspires her to create her own unique shapes. “Colorful Labs” is all about color. The shapes are simple, but the colors are vibrant and eye-catching.
Zuchowski is an abstract painter who draws in an audience with his predominate use of color. His non-realistic forms of imagery allows Zuchowski to delve into the psyche of the mind in order to create and explore his choices of color. Zuchowski’s use of color touch and resonate with the viewer, making them look beyond the abstract and find a deeper meaning within his work.