The Billboard Creative launched its second public art show on December 1 on 33 billboards throughout the streets of Los Angeles. This second effort features an outstanding number of emerging and established artists including Ed Ruscha, Jack Pierson, Andrew Bush, Shane Guffogg, Kim McCarty, Panos Tsagaris, among others. The Forum spoke to the show’s curator Mona Kuhn on how she decided to stop traffic with art.
Billboards have been around since the early days, when the land around Los Angeles, before it was even a city, started being divided and sold, a classic example of this is the history of the Hollywood sign. One of the things we cannot deny is that LA has a strong car culture, it is the place we spend a lot of our time commuting during the week and driving on weekends. It is an engrained way of life here but most of the billboards happen to be eyesores, at least to me. When Adam Santeli, founder of The Billboard Creative, mentioned bringing original works of art to be reproduced in Billboards around Los Angeles, it all came together perfectly from an aesthetic point of view as part of the continuing and new LA art scene.
A billboard exhibition can be a challenging proposition, because we are competing for attention within a busy urban setting with an audience that is mostly driving by. My first step was to observe traffic in one of the main intersections and study the audience’s behavior while driving. There were two distinct moments that I observed: the audience would be either be driving by or be stuck in a traffic jam.
In the first scenario my intention is to grab their attention by surprise with graphically strong artworks, pieces that are easy to read and understand in a relatively very short amount of time. But I also saw a need to reach out to an audience who might be stuck in traffic, so I thought about what works of art would have the power to transport me away from that, what would inspire me to mentally escape the traffic. All the works had a touch of the sublime to me.
During the selection process, I had access to the work, but not the artists’ names. It was a way for us to keep the process egalitarian. I am proud to say that I believe each work of art included in this exhibition holds an equal presence and deserves the attention they are getting.