Levitated Mass Transport: A Gawker’s Guide [Updated Friday, March 9]

February 28, 2012

We know you might want to see the megalith destined to be part of Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass as it makes its journey through L.A., so we want to give you an overview of your chances. As mentioned previously, the actual transport (made possible by Hanjin Shipping) starts tonight and will only occur in the middle of the night—and slowly at that. During each day it will be parked in specially identified areas. (You can see the overall route map here, and Google street views in the links below.) These daytime stops will be your best and most convenient opportunities to see the boulder during this historic movement. With that in mind, here is a detailed breakdown of its stops, plus a few tips and recommendations for each location. (Some are more convenient than others.) As an FYI, none of these stops will result in daytime street closures, though in some cases there will only be one lane of traffic open in either direction.

Day or night, if you see the boulder during its journey, let us know! Post your pics to Facebook or Twitter and tag us (Twitter hashtag: #LevitatedMass). Check back to this blog post each day as we update its movement. We will also be updating news of the transport daily on the Levitated Mass page and on Twitter.

Megalith slated to become part of Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass, prepared for transport to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2012, © 2012 Michael Heizer, photo by Tom Vinetz

Wednesday, February 29: Following its initial departure from the quarry tonight, the boulder will travel about seven miles to the intersection of Mission Boulevard and Bellegrave Avenue in Glen Avon.

Tip for gawkers: The transporter will be parked on private property, though the area is fairly wide open.

Update, February 29, 8:27 am: Last night at about 10:40 pm, the transporter carrying the 340-ton megalith left the quarry in Riverside County. All went well on the first leg of the journey, which saw the transporter travel approximately five miles in four and a half hours. Nearly half of that time was spent making a sharp turn from Granite Hill Drive onto Country Village Road. As of now the transporter is parked at its planned first stop. The second leg of the journey will begin tonight and will take the boulder approximately ten miles to its second stop. Check out this video showing the transporter leaving the quarry!

Thursday, March 1: The boulder will arrive at its second stop near the southwest corner of Ontario Airport, at the intersection of Mission Boulevard and Grove Avenue. The transporter will be parked on private property—it will be easy to see, and traffic won’t be affected.

Tip for gawkers: The area is fairly desolate outside of an Arco gas station across the street and a couple of nearby aviation companies.

Update, Thursday, March 1, 6:17 am: Everything went very smoothly on the transporter’s second night. The transporter moved at a good clip, covering about eight miles. The boulder safely arrived at Mission Boulevard and Grove Avenue, near the edge of the Ontario Airport, at 4:15 am this morning.

Friday, March 2: You’ll find the transporter parked on Chino Avenue at Chino Hills Parkway in Diamond Bar. (Note: see update below!)

Tip for gawkers: These are both wide streets with fast-moving traffic and no parking. At best you can drive by, but it will be difficult to stop and look, or to get out of your car for a photo op.

Update, Friday, March 2, 7:34 am: The transporter traveled ten miles last night and is now parked near the Park and Ride on Chino Avenue near the 71 freeway. This is two miles short of the originally planned stop of Chino Avenue and Chino Hills Parkway. Emmert International, which is managing the transport, deemed this to be the safest, least disruptive stop. The transporter will remain here for the day until it resumes its journey tonight around 10-11 pm. It should make up those miles tonight and reach its next planned destination in Rowland Heights without disrupting the overall transportation schedule. Update, 9:37 am: Please be warned: today’s stop is not convenient for stopping and looking at the boulder. There is no nearby parking, and the street is very busy. We encourage you to see the boulder at its next stop in Rowland Heights, where it will be located all weekend.

Saturday/Sunday, March 3-4: All weekend the transporter will be parked on Pathfinder Road in Rowland Heights, near Fullerton Road. (To get here, take the 60 to the Fullerton Road exit and travel south to Pathfinder.)

UPDATE, Saturday, March 3, 9:45 am: The transporter successfully completed the most challenging part of the journey early this morning. CHP and local municipalities allowed extended drive time, and the transporter has now reached its destination at Pathfinder Road and Buttonwood Lane near Fullerton Road in Rowland Heights. It will remain there throughout the weekend.

Tip for gawkers: Make a day of it! The rock will be parked just across the street from Pathfinder Community Regional Park, which has tables, lots of grass, a play area, bathrooms, basketball and tennis courts, and more. Bring a picnic. Schabarum Regional Park is also nearby—a great place for hiking or biking. There’s also a lot of great cuisine in Rowland Heights. “Yes Plaza,” at the nearby intersection of Fullerton and Colima, is filled with sushi, Thai, tempura, and much more. You can also search Chowhound for more Rowland Heights recommendations.

Monday, March 5: You’ll find the rock on Leffingwell Road, just west of La Mirada Boulevard in the city of La Mirada, south of Whittier.

Tip for gawkers: If you’re using mass transit, the 120 bus will make a stop right next to the transporter. There is parking in nearby residential areas for a quick hop out of the car for a photo op. Leffingwell is a large, busy street with not a lot of foot traffic.

Update, Monday, March 5, 6:30 am: The transporter traveled approximately eleven miles last night from Rowland Heights to La Mirada, spending most of its journey on Colima Road. Early this morning it safely reached its next stop on Leffingwell Road, just west of La Mirada Boulevard. It will leave for the next leg of its journey at approximately 10–11 pm tonight.

Tuesday, March 6: The transporter pulls into the city of Lakewood, near Cerritos, on South Street at Palo Verde Avenue.

Tips for gawkers: There are strip malls on either side of the street with ample parking and a few fast food places to eat (and more food options at the nearby intersection of South Street and Woodruff Avenue).

Update, Tuesday, March 6, 6:10 am: The transporter departed La Mirada at approximately 10 pm last night and traveled nearly twelve miles to its next intended stop, South Street near Palo Verde Avenue in Lakewood, arriving at 4:30 am. It will leave for the next leg of its journey tonight around 10–11 pm.

Wednesday, March 7: The rock will spend the day in Bixby Knolls, a strip of small restaurants and other businesses in Long Beach. The transporter will be parked on Atlantic Avenue between 36th and 37th Streets.

Tip for gawkers: If you live in the Long Beach area, this is probably your best chance to see the transporter. If you’re coming around lunch or dinner, try Patricia’s Restaurant! It’ll have prime viewing of the rock, and the Mexican food is affordable and delicious. Of all the weekday stops, Bixby Knolls is the most densely populated, meaning there are a few more lunch or dinner options and other nearby things to do beyond a quick drive-by. For instance, continue south on Atlantic for about fifteen minutes and you’ll run into the Aquarium of the Pacific. [Update: the town of Bixby Knolls is getting into the spirit and throwing a Rock Party from 12-7 pm! More details here.]

Update, Wednesday, March 7, 6:12 am: The transporter had a short and uneventful journey last night, leaving the city of Lakewood at 10 pm and arriving to its intended destination of Bixby Knolls just three hours later. The megalith will be parked on Atlantic Avenue between 36th and 37th streets until approximately 10-11 pm, when it will leave for its next destination of Vermont Avenue and Carson Street. For information on the “Rock Party” in Bixby Knolls today from 12–7 pm, click here.

Thursday, March 8: After touring Long Beach in the middle of the night, the transporter will come to rest at Vermont Avenue just north of Carson Street, in the city of Carson (not far from UCLA Harbor Medical Center). (Note: see update below.)

Tip for gawkers: This stretch of Vermont will not be especially conducive to stopping, but there are residential streets nearby.

Update, Thursday, March 8, 7:03 am: Due to tight clearances along Atlantic Avenue, the transporter stopped three miles short of its intended destination. It is parked on Avalon Boulevard at Pacific Street, near Sepulveda Boulevard. It will depart tonight at approximately 10–11 pm with the intention of reaching its next planned stop at Figueroa Street, just north of Florence Avenue.

Update, 4:15 pm: The transporter will be leaving earlier than usual tonight, with an expected departure of approximately 8 pm.

Friday, March 9: From Carson the transporter will make its way to Western Avenue, for a more or less straight shot north, eventually parking itself at Figueroa Street, north of Florence Avenue, between 63rd and 65th Streets.

Tip for gawkers: If you live near USC this is a good chance to drive past the transporter and get a look at the rock. Its parking spot is just a few blocks south of Exposition Park, so you could also fit in a visit to the Natural History Museum, California African American Museum, or the California Science Center. This is a busy street lined mostly with houses and a couple of auto shops.

Update, Friday, March 9, 6:15 am: After an early start last night at about 8 pm, the transport made up the distance it lost from the night before. It covered just over sixteen miles, landing at its intended destination of Gage Avenue and Figueroa  (just north of Florence Avenue) around 2:30 am. Tonight it makes its way to LACMA for the last leg of the nearly 105 mile journey. Learn more about what to expect for the final leg of the journey.

Finally, on Friday night the megalith will make its final leg of the journey, traveling up Figueroa (right past Exposition Park and USC), turning onto West Adams, then up Western, before turning onto Wilshire Boulevard and proceeding to its final destination at LACMA (and it is final—you better believe no one is moving this thing again!). This relatively short distance will take most of the night, starting at 11 pm and tentatively arriving to the museum around 4 am. We will be tweeting the Wilshire Boulevard journey if you happen to be awake!

Scott Tennent


Ken Price 1935–2012

February 27, 2012

Los Angeles artist Ken Price died early Friday morning, February 24, at the age of 77 in his home in Taos, after a long battle with cancer. (See articles in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and New York magazine.) He had hoped to live long enough to see his retrospective, which I am organizing for LACMA. The exhibition, designed by Ken’s longtime friend Frank Gehry, opens here September 16, and then travels to the Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Ken was involved with us in planning the show and the publication until two weeks before his death. He had approved the installation design, read every word of the catalogue, made suggestions about the nature of the illustrations, given us notes on the height of each sculpture we will display, and even how he would like them illuminated. His passing leaves a great void for his friends, family and the art world. At least there will be a chance to celebrate his life in seven months with the show and catalogue. Until then, we have updated the exhibition’s web page with a group of images and a beautiful selection of photos of Ken.

Ken Price beginning to sculpt a form for his project Happy’s Curios, 1972-77, photograph by Sarah Spongberg, © Ken Price

For more than fifty years, Ken Price made remarkable and innovative works that have redefined contemporary sculptural practice.  Beginning in the late 1950s, together with Peter Voulkos and John Mason, he helped to push the ambitions of working with clay well beyond traditionally assigned roles. From his 1960s suggestively oozing eggs to the highly colorful, architectural works of the 1980s, his early sculptures, modest in scale by comparison with prevailing abstract expressionist work, reflect his lifelong interest in precision and finish. In the late 1990s, Price began a new series of mottled sculptures, whose surface is composed of roughly seventy layers of paint that he painstakingly sanded, each stratum uncovered as he varied the pressure of his sanding.  The result is a lyrical composition of colors held mystically together in a layered arrangement that is unmistakably anthropomorphic. Subtly erotic and molten-like slumps, these haunting, intimate sculptures occupy a unique place in American sculpture. LACMA owns forty works by Ken Price, including Zizi (2011), which is from his last group of sculptures. In honor of his amazing and unparalleled career, Zizi will be on view in the lobby of the Ahmanson Building starting today.

Ken Price, Zizi, 2011, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, purchased with funds provided by the Modern and Contemporary Art Acquisition Fund and gift of Matthew Marks, © Ken Price, photograph © Fredrik Nilsen

Price was unwavering in his approach and resolute in his practice while the art world around him was intent upon other forms and directions. He was relentless and determined, even during his prolonged illness. Through it all he managed to make incredible, joyful work that is at once subtle and brave, serious and sly. Price’s absolute mastery of color, form, and surface has established the certainty that a new generation of artists can to continue to push the possibilities of sculpture.

Stephanie Barron, Senior Curator and Department Head, Modern Art


Levitated Mass: The Journey Begins

February 24, 2012

Finally, after much delay, we are happy to announce that the 340-ton megalith that is to be part of Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass will begin its journey to LACMA. (Our thanks go to Hanjin Shipping for generously sponsoring the transportation.) It will start moving this Tuesday, February 28, and will arrive to LACMA (very) early in the morning on Saturday, March 10.

Megalith slated to become part of Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass, prepared for transport to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2012, © 2012 Michael Heizer, photo by Tom Vinetz

The quarry where the boulder currently resides is in Jurupa Valley, in Riverside County—about 105 miles away if you take I-10. The transporter won’t be taking the freeway, however. After months of research, engineering studies, and collaboration with officials in four counties and twenty-two cities, engineers at Emmert International have established a fairly circuitous route that avoids overpasses and any streets or bridges deemed too weak to support the transporter and cargo. You can see the full route here.

The transport will take eleven nights all together, with movement happening only at night—traveling about 8 miles per hour roughly between the hours of 11 pm and 5 am each night. We will be providing updates at lacma.org/levitatedmass as it moves. If you see it pass through your neighborhood, take a picture! Upload it to Facebook and tag us, or post on Twitter (hashtag: #LevitatedMass).

(By the way, while this is possibly the largest megalithic stone moved since ancient times, this is not the first time heavy transport has occurred in Southern California. Just last year Southern California Edison shipped a 350-ton steam generator from the San Onofre nuclear plant to a nuclear-waste disposal site in Utah. A similar transporter was used—400 feet long!—traveling slowly  at night over the course of nineteen days, without incident.)

Megalith slated to become part of Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass, prepared for transport to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2012 (detail), © 2012 Michael Heizer, photo by Tom Vinetz

We realize that most of you will not be awake at night to watch the megalith pass by, or perhaps you don’t live within its path. In the event you might want to check it out for yourself, next week we’ll give you a detailed rundown on each of its daily stops.

Once the megalith arrives to LACMA, we will spend the next few weeks installing it over the 456-foot-long slot behind the Resnick Pavilion. The artwork will be ready for public viewing in the late spring/early summer. Stay tuned for further announcements.

Scott Tennent


The Untold History of Design at LACMA

February 23, 2012

Around 1957, the Art Division of the Los Angeles County Museum (then located downtown in Exposition Park), launched a little-known design and typography program that utterly transformed the museum’s image. The program was spearheaded by James H. Elliott, who arrived at the Los Angeles County Museum in 1956 as Assistant Chief Curator of Art, after a stint at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Elliott firmly believed that the museum’s printed material (its newsletters, exhibition announcements, books, and more) should reflect an awareness of contemporary design and hired the leading graphic designers in the city to produce the museum’s print identity. In the 1950s, the Walker in Minneapolis was, along with the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the premiere venue for the display of contemporary design (and is still a leader in the field), and Elliott probably formulated his ideas about design while working there. Elliott moved in LA art circles and many of the designers that he asked to participate in the program, such as Fred Usher, Marion Sampler, and Allen Porter, were friends.

Here is a sampling of the many commissions that were part of the program:

Frederick A. Usher, Jr., Museum Association Quarterly cover, summer 1958

Allen Porter, Catalogue cover for Artists of Los Angeles and Vicinity exhibition, 1958

Marion Sampler, Invitation for European Art Today 35 Painters and Sculptors exhibition opening, 1959

Deborah Sussman, Catalogue cover for Six More exhibition, 1963

One of the most prolific participants in the program was graphic designer Lou Danziger, who was responsible for LACMA’s monthly calendar for decades and consulted on the museum’s design projects until 1980.

Louis Danziger, Invitation for Four Abstract Classicists and New American Prints—1959 exhibition opening, 1959

Louis Danziger, Poster for New York School: The First Generation exhibition, 1965

Louis Danziger, Exhibition catalogue for Art in Los Angeles: Seventeen Artists in the Sixties, 1981

In addition to these projects, Lou designed landmark catalogues, including ones for the exhibitions Art Treasures of Japan (1965) and Art and Technology (1970). Lou recalls that the program started with the need for a trademark for Museum Associates, the museum’s parent organization, and Elliott commissioned Frederick A. Usher, Jr. for the job. In subsequent years, Lou, James Elliott, and later, curators Henry Hopkins and Bill Osmun met weekly on Wednesday mornings to identify and develop the museum’s design projects. You can hear Lou talk about his role in the world of mid-century California design, and learn about the making of his New York School exhibition poster here (the complete interview is available by downloading the free California Design app).

The New York School poster is on view in the California Design exhibition now and Lou will be at LACMA on Friday, February 24 to participate in a panel discussion called “Connections: Architecture and Design in Los Angeles at Mid-century,” along with fellow California designer Gere Kavanaugh and architect Ray Kappe. They will discuss the interconnected nature of the post-World War II Los Angeles design community. The panel is part of a larger, two-day symposium about California design which will feature several talks by renowned scholars and an evening keynote panel with artists Jorge Pardo, Pae White, and Jim Isermann about the legacy of mid-century California design on contemporary art and architecture.

Bobbye Tigerman, Assistant Curator, Decorative Arts and Design


LACMA, the NEA, and Watts

February 22, 2012

Tomorrow night, LACMA’s CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director Michael Govan will be in conversation with Rocco Landesman, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. Their conversation (free to the public) will touch on a number of topics related to the NEA’s national agenda, including a few topics near and dear to LACMA and Los Angeles’s hearts. Not least of those topics is the NEA’s Our Town grant program, which recently awarded the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) funds for master planning and design work in the Watts community. LACMA, as you may have read, has also been in Watts for the last year, working with the DCA and the community on plans for the preservation of Watts Towers.

Simon Rodia’s Watts Towers, 1921–1954, photo © 2011 Museum Associates/LACMA

The Our Town grant is not earmarked for the towers but rather for another project in the area—the repurposing of the Historic Watts Train Station, originally built in 1904 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This was a highly trafficked stop along the historic Red Line route, in the era before the city’s massive freeway system turned L.A. into the apotheosis of “car culture.”

Watts Station, Los Angeles

Plans for the train station and two “artist pathways” are still in the early stages and are being led by a local grassroots organization known as Watts Labor Community Action Committee (WLCAC), which is focused on creating jobs and improving the overall quality of life for residents of Watts. LACMA is serving as an arts advisor for the project, which will turn the site into a Visitors Center and gateway to Watts that highlights the neighborhood’s impact on the arts and culture of Los Angeles. As plans develop, we look forward to sharing more of the WLCAC and DCA’s progress on this project. You can also hear more about both LACMA and the NEA’s support for this project during tomorrow’s Director’s Series event, among other topics.

Scott Tennent


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