Best Public Art in LA

Leslie Chen, Staff Writer

LA is home to many notable public murals, sculptures, and other art installations—from an urban-scale rainbow to a steel tower. Here is a list of some of the city’s must-see public artwork.

“Rainbow” by Tony Tasset
Rising 94 feet high in the air, the “Rainbow” by Tony Tasset is a prominent symbol for optimism and imagination. The giant rainbow also pays a tribute to The Wizard of Oz, which was filmed at the sculpture’s current location, the Sony Pictures Lot in Culver City.

“Urban Light” by Chris Burden
Located outside of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is Chris Burden’s iconic assemblage structure, “Urban Light.” The 202 cast-iron street lamps have been featured in a number of movies, TV shows, and photoshoots.

The Alley Project
The Alley Project consists of over 100 murals by over 80 artists on the alleyways of Beverly Boulevard. These works, a mishmash of different colors and styles, cover nearly every vertical surface, including garage doors, window bars, and even dumpsters. Creator Jason Ostro had the idea to fill the neighborhood with colorful murals to combat graffiti in 2014. “When we first moved into the neighborhood, there was so much graffiti and garbage here,” Ostro said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “The whole idea was: [to] turn blight into bright.”

“Watts Tower” by Simon Rodia
Italian artist Simon Rodia built the Watts Towers over the course of 30 years. The towers are made of steel rods wrapped in iron mesh, and embellished with shells, ceramic shards, seashells, and other eccentric trinkets. Although admission may cost you a bit, these towers are visible from anywhere on East 107th Street.

“Blacklist” by Jenny Holzer
Located outside the USC Fisher Gallery, Jenny Holzer’s “Blacklist” is a simple yet stated piece of history. It consists of ten benches in a circle. Each bench contains an engraved quote from a member of the “Hollywood Ten,” a group of ten filmmakers who were blacklisted after refusing to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee because of their political beliefs. “My opinions are not an issue in this case. The issue is my right to have opinions,” reads one bench engraved with John Lawson, head of the Hollywood division of the Communist Party USA.

The Great Wall of Los Angeles
The Great Wall of Los Angeles can be found at the Tujunga Wash, a flood control channel in North Hollywood. The wall tells the history of California, starting from the prehistoric era. Over the course of five years, the wall has been hand painted with beautiful murals from hundreds of artists and local youth. Even though it already spans about a half-mile, it is still considered a work in progress.

Public art can be found everywhere, from utility boxes to metro stations. Even a casual walk around LA’s streets can expose you to unique pieces by talented artists.