Bus benches throughout Boyle Heights and downtown Los Angeles are becoming the canvas for a visual public art project debuting this week.
Curated by the city of Los Angeles’ DoArt Foundation (DoArt) and Make Art Public (MAP), in coordination with Martin Outdoor Media — the company that has the contract to sell advertising on the benches — the art installations will display unusual scenes captured on Google Earth Street View and images of superheros portraying immigrant workers.
Councilman Jose Huizar approached Martin Outdoor Media with the idea of filling available spaces on bus benches with art until they are leased out for advertisement, according to the councilman’s office.
Martin Outdoor Media has agreed to offer free space on up to 100 bus benches in Council District 14 through September for the artwork.
Twenty of the public art images were installed on July 5.
“This project gives us the opportunity to bring art to the public right-of-way,” said Huizar, thanking all those involved, including the artists.
DoArt, a local organization focused on public art and education, and MAP, a Montreal-based collective dedicated to creating public art on unsold advertising space, is funding the project. They selected works by artists Dulce Pinzón and Jon Rafman for the public installations.
The color photographs of Mexican immigrants dressed in the costumes of popular American and Mexican superheroes are the work of Pinzón, an artist from Mexico.
Her “Superheroes” series explores the lives and labor-intensive jobs held by many migrant workers, specifically those of Mexican heritage. Her work pays homage to the brave and determined men and women who somehow manage, without the help of any supernatural power, to withstand extreme work conditions in order to help their families and communities survive and prosper, according to Huizar.
On the other hand, Rafman’s contemporary pieces depict interesting and unusual images caught on Google Earth Street View from around the world. His “9 Eyes” series of Street View photography shows “a spontaneous quality unspoiled by the sensitivities or agendas of a human photographer.”