A few weeks ago, we were approached by Los Angeles based rad art iPad magazine Installation to do a little story for their Think section. These are stories of art and creativity and have a slant toward being opinion pieces about a subject that you pick. The opportunity sounded super fun and we wanted to take the time to get creative with our writing and do more of a story-story than a straight up “Let me report on this.” something (which is totally boring and, although we do it a lot on LAIY, is very, very dry). The piece just hit iPads recently as a part of Installation’s tenth issue. What was it about? That weird art park in Beverly Hills that no one is ever at but there are strange things there like a Yayoi Kusama sculpture and a tree that homeless people live in. It’s totally a wild, bizarro place.
The magazine is ran by A. Moret and Garet Field-Sells and is a little effort to share art and creativity with a specific Southern California slant to it. When they approached us, we tried to think of something neat to do that represented both art and Los Angeles and their interaction with each other. We thought about going to a framer and documenting the process of getting something framed and thought about doing a written time lapse of Urban Light or even chilling at a Metro station and see how people interact with the often overlooked and literally passed by art pieces the transportation industry has provided for passengers. The most curious idea was to check out the Beverly Gardens Park. Don’t know what that is? Of course you do: it’s that strange, empty, well manicured strip of grass that has occasional art pieces on the North side of Santa Monica Blvd between Doheny and Wilshire.
We took an afternoon and spent some time wandering around the area, taking notes, taking photos, and the resulting experience was what our Think piece was all about. You can check out select photos from it and the first few paragraphs of it below but you’ll have to download the latest issue in order to get the rest of it. The magazine is totally cool and crazily interactive: it’s a reminder of how creative and insane digital magazines can be. We can’t wait to see more from Installation and we’re so happy to share this little piece with you. Get more on the magazine here and get another tease of the story here.
You would probably describe it more as a well manicured distraction than you would a park. It’s not intended for lounging in the sun nor is it a dedicated tourist destination. It’s a buffer, a place to deposit people who are unable to shop at the stores on Rodeo, Beverly, and Cañon. It’s for people who do not live in the houses North of Santa Monica Boulevard. It’s a strange piece of roadside eye candy that is full of families of cacti, a handful of gigantic Magnolia trees, and sculptures that probably shouldn’t be in the sun–unattended–for prolonged periods of time (but they are). It’s all a strange offering from the City of Beverly Hills to everyone who does not live in Beverly Hills. It’s a constant performance of diversion that has existed since 1911, when it was built to separate commercial from residential zones.
You can still see this separation still by way of a flimsy chain-link fence hidden behind bushes and trees at the Northern edge of the park. This is a literal physical barrier between you in the park and those in their mansions. It stretches from the area’s start, at Santa Monica and Doheny, to its finish, at Santa Monica and Wilshire. At certain points, you can stop and see through the fence, perhaps to gaze down an empty alleyway to find clean trashcans and aged Mercedes Coupes. You’ll notice as you walk that even the pipes and mechanics of the park are covered in a fence: everything is off limits.
You feel like the commercial district is off limits, too. You walk parallel to Santa Monica Boulevard, where cars speed very quickly in order to make it through every light in this regimented traffic corridor. There are four fat lanes. There are only two bus stops. Traveling by foot feet from the street can be very intimidating, which should not be a surprise because it was once a highway: this stretch of Santa Monica was once the historic Route 66.
You see each block has a handful of signs that issue rules and suggestions for how to conduct yourself here. The Beverly Hills seal–a simple and iconic triangular shield, another buffer to keep you on the outside of it–is at the top of every sign, positioned above the park’s name: Beverly Gardens Park. You cannot camp here, you cannot smoke here, you cannot drink alcohol here, you cannot sell anything, you cannot play games, you cannot ride vehicles, and you cannot climb anything. This is for your safety and welfare, yes, but its mostly because they expect you not to fuck up the nice garden they made for you.
Want to read the rest? Well, you’ll have to download the latest issue of Installation.