Art in Unexpected Places
People tend to think of civic art as outdoor sculptures, but in Los Angeles there are unexpected ways to experience it. For example, civic art is a glowing fused glass partition in the local urgent care center; it’s the swerving ramp under the skateboarder’s wheels at the park; it’s the coloring book created for children whose parents are staying at a public hospital.
The Los Angeles County Civic Art Collection is comprised of historic and contemporary civic artworks of all kinds located on County properties. Working with artists, County departments, and communities, the Civic Art Division commissions socially engaged civic artworks, as well as supports conservation efforts, artistic and cultural services, and an evolving array of programming throughout the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County in all five Supervisorial Districts.
How can civic art make a difference at a local level? With Los Angeles being the most populous county in the US at over ten million residents, the Department of Arts and Culture’s Civic Art Division seeks to conduct “placekeeping,” which is responding to and supporting cultures in the many communities they serve.
For example, the goal for civic artworks at the Olive View Restorative Care Village—built by Abbott Construction—was to create a welcoming and healing space where patients and staff felt deeply rooted in the surrounding community. The Civic Art Division hosted meetings with community members to find out what kinds of artwork they wanted on-site, while also capturing emotive goals in their own words. These words then formed the guiding principles for artists in their design development. Finished pieces were met with great enthusiasm by the community, and included two outdoor murals, a micrography triptych, and a fused glass panel. Conveying an overall sense of upliftment, they celebrated Olive View’s local culture, history, and deep connection to nature.