Hope Street Terminus: The Garden of Conversion

From the artists' statement:
Artist Team: Blue McRight, lead artist; Warren Wagner, architect
Project Title: Hope Street Terminus: The Garden of Conversion
Project Description: Site specific work of environmental public art
Date completed: 1996
Commissioned by: Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency, Downtown Cultural Trust Fund Grant.
Project Location: Hope St. terminus at 17th Street, downtown Los Angeles
Project Duration: 12 months
Project Budget: $26,000 plus $25,000 in kind donations
Art Consultant: Lesley Elwood, Arts Planner, Community Redevelopment Agency
Fabricator: Abbott Enterprises; R. Montgomery Stone Engraving

Hope Street Terminus: The Garden of Conversion is a site-specific, environmental work of public art that transformed a blighted, unused area of CalTrans property underneath the freeway into an urban garden. The project incorporates the freeway structure as part of the artwork through the inclusion of a 19' tall steel lantern, which at night uses the underside of the freeway deck as a surface for projected patterns of light. The lantern is illuminated by solar electricity, generated during the day via photovoltaic panels mounted on a steel stanchion at the entrance to the site. Forming the base for the lantern is a large bench, with a mosaic surface made from recycling Hope Street aslphalt, which channels stormwater runoff and functions as seating for the site. Inscribed onto the concrete sides of the base is the word HOPE in 48 different languages. Drought tolerant plantings complete the artwork.

This project was selected in a juried competition by a panel of public art professionals for the first round of grants made available by the C.R.A. Downtown Cultural Trust Fund. The Downtown Cultural Trust Fund looks to engage artists and other design professionals in developing ideas that affect the way Downtown functions, looks, and feels.

Blue McRight exhibits her work in California and New York, and has to date completed site-specific public art projects in Portland, OR, and Southern California, including Los Angeles, Ventura, Culver City, Pasadena, and Montebello. She is represented by the Patricia Faure Gallery in Santa Monica.

Wagner's practice focuses on resource-conserving architecture and public works, and energy management consulting. His work explores the relationship between ecology and architecture and the technologies involved in sustainable design. In the last ten years, Wagner has completed numerous environmentally responsive residential and commercial projects. His experimental public restroom design won an award in the 1995 L. A. Forum for Architecture and Urban Design's "Civic Innovations" competition.

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