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Meet Spring Street's New Public Art

By Eric Richardson
Published: Monday, October 19, 2009, at 10:00PM
Spring Street Public Art Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Cast bronze works by Peter Shelton, installed on the Spring street side of the new Police Administration Building.

It's hard to know what to make of the newly installed public art along the Spring street side of the Police Administration Building. Are those large black lumps animals? Are they internal organs? Ink blots?

Well, yes. It's sort of up to you.

Artist Peter Shelton concedes that he conceptualized the pieces as abstract "beasts of burden," but wants to leave it to those passing by to make up their own stories. "What's the point of art if it's all about telling you what it means?" he asked today, while working on some final installation details.

The six large cast bronze works are flanked by a pair of spindly-legged "sentinels." Shelton said that each got a name during its time in the shop, but that the monikers were about utility rather than narrative.

Shelton got the art commission two years ago, and said that fabrication work took 15 months. While the pieces are site-specific, Shelton designed them in the context of a Downtown streetscape, not of the LAPD structure. He wanted to show "animated forms," and compared the line of objects to the circus' animal walk.

On Monday afternoon, it looked like Shelton's works were doing their job at provoking speculation. "Are you the artist?" asked a woman walking down Spring. Pointing at one of the pieces, she asked, "What is that?" She explained that she had decided what each of the others were, but couldn't quite pin down one particularly abstract form.

The Police Administration Building has its grand opening on Saturday, October 24.

Update (Thursday, 4pm): On Wednesday, the L.A. Times' Steve Lopez passed along Chief Bratton's less-than-complementary opinion of the pieces, in which he called them "cow-splat." Today, art critic Christopher Knight takes a much more complementary view, saying that Bratton's Boston and New York gigs haven't left him knowing much about cow-splat. Knight calls the shapes "smartly abstracted."


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