This public artwork by French artist Vincent Lamouroux was one of Creative Migration’s most successful, large-scale projects. In 2015, the iconic Sunset Pacific Motel (or “Bates Motel”) on Sunset Blvd – including its billboard and surrounding palm trees – was transformed into a blanket of white. Projection disrupted the landscape that Angelenos have been accustomed to seeing, thus allowing the viewer to re-examine their own experience of the urban landscape.
Our founder, Susannah Tantemsapya, worked closely with the artist and Projection’s primary funder, Please Do Not Enter, to secure support from the City of Los Angeles, Institut Français, Cultural Services of the French Embassy, FLAX (France Los Angeles Exchange) and many others. Creative Migration raised $38,000 through in-kind sponsorships, thus contributing to almost one-third of the overall budget. Our nonprofit also curated all related arts educational programming outlined in the following press release.
The project was wildly popular (240,140 impressions during its on-view period of one month) and unintentionally became a pioneer in the Instagrammable public art phenomenon. It has garnered tremendous media attention with more than 100 features placed in international publications such as Liberation, The Guardian and W Magazine.
Creative Migration organized the entire installation process over two years. We worked with arborists, neighborhood stakeholders and local government officials to ensure that our environmental footprint was minimal along with conducting rigorous material testing for nontoxic solutions. Furthermore, we produced all opening events implementing Zero Waste practices in collaboration with Sustain LA.
Through the local arborist community, we worked closely with Donald Hodel, the Environmental Horicultural Advisor specializing in Palms, Trees and Landscape Management at the University of California, Cooperative Extension, Los Angeles. Per his advice, the palm trees were covered in a non-hazardous and water-soluble Premium Greenhouse Shading Compound (Light Stick) instead of the limewash used on nonliving materials. This solution neither impacts the health of the palms nor the surrounding environment. In fact, the compound serves as a protective barrier for the palms against sun-scalding. Conley’s Manufacturing, its distributor, confirms that the solution poses no environmental or health harms in the case of run off from the trees during rain or natural wear. Furthermore, everything was cleared through George Gonzalez and Ron Lorenzen from the Bureau of Street Services.
Inspired by Mayor Garcetti’s Save the Drop campaign, we believed it would be in the best interest for the city to not wash off the solution from the trees. The leaves of the palms have already regenerated themselves and are completely green again. The whitewash is gradually and slowly wearing off the trunk. By allowing the white compound to wear off naturally rather than through pressure washing, we saved copious amounts of water and pose no harm to the trees and the landscape. Above all, our goal was to conserve water, and not add to the problems during a major drought in California.
Aside from the environmental concerns addressed above, we understand that this may be an aesthetic issue. The status of the palm trees remains yet to be determined with the new plans for this location’s development. The building and billboard structure have been improved, and will remain white until existing demolition plans are executed by the owner. It would be more beneficial to not remove the whitewash, especially if the trees are to be completely removed in due time. In addition, these Mexican Fan Palms (Washingtonia Robusta) are an evasive species, not indigenous to the area. These palms have actually outgrown any usefulness for shade and are not long-term, sustainable plant life.
Endorsement Letters (selected)
Projection was funded by Please Do Not Enter, FLAX (France Los Angeles Exchange), Lycée International de Los Angeles, Institut Français and private donors.
We also received generous support from the City of Los Angeles, Cultural Services of the French Embassy, Frost/Chaddock, Lamar, ACNE, Domino Recording Co., UC Cooperative Extension, West Coast Arborists, AIA Los Angeles, Silver Lake Neighborhood Council, Los Feliz Neighborhood Council, Echo Park Neighborhood Council, Mack Sennett Studios, Sustain LA, Silverlake Independent Jewish Community Center, Lextech, Blick Art Materials, Juice Served Here, WOOD Handcrafted Pizza, Haché LA, August Uncommon Tea, Pirozhki, My Vegan Gold and Purgatory at the Junction.