An artwork in the shape of the iconic “LA” hand gesture will be placed in the Arts District, city officials announced at a public meeting on Tuesday, angering some Boyle Heights residents who hoped to see it in their neighborhood instead.
“The west side (of the river) always gets everything,” resident Antonio Gallo told city officials at the meeting, Curbed LA reported.
The 30-foot sculpture by artist Glenn Kaino, who grew up in East LA, is the only art piece to receive funding so far for a 12-acre park below the new Sixth Street Viaduct, according to Curbed LA. The park, slated to begin construction in 2022, will span the Los Angeles River in both the Arts District and Boyle Heights and will include a skate park, soccer fields, gardens and picnic areas.
The hand sign, which features two fingers on each hand making the letters “LA,” originated in the Eastside and was popularized in a 1995 photo by photographer Estevan Oriol, according to Los Angeles Magazine. Many still associate it with the Eastside and Latino communities, including some at Tuesday’s meeting who disagreed with the decision to place the art piece on the west side of the river.
“It’s a historic problem for Boyle Heights,” resident Edward Padilla told Curbed LA. “I know there are opportunities to put something else on the east side in the future, but it’s an afterthought.”
Kaino, who will receive $1.3 million from the city’s Percent For Public Art program, plans to cast the hands of the sculpture from two different residents — one in the Arts District and one in Boyle Heights. He told Curbed that he originally wanted the sculpture to be located on the Boyle Heights side, but six possible locations considered over the course of a year were all deemed “unfavorable or unsafe” for the piece.
On social media, City Councilman Jose Huízar — whose district includes Boyle Heights as well as parts of downtown — responded to criticism of the decision by saying that there would be other opportunities for public art on the Boyle Heights side.
“This was the first meeting to get feedback,” Huízar wrote on Twitter. “There has to be a way to overcome that challenge and place art in both Boyle Heights and the Arts District, if that’s what the community wants. We will have more city meetings and community engagement before any final decisions are made.”
The 12-acre park is part of the city’s $482 million Sixth Street Viaduct project, which aims to replace the original structure spanning the Los Angeles River with a 3,500-foot-long arched crossing that will include sidewalks, bicycle lanes and traffic improvements.
Photo: A visualization of the planned Sixth Street Viaduct. Sixth Street Viaduct Replacement Project/YouTube.