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'Uptown Rocker' : Sculpture Makes New Inroads

July 10, 1986|MARK DE LA VINA | De la Vina is a Times intern from the University of Arizona.

It took two years of planning and five months of construction before Lloyd Hamrol's feelings about the traffic in Los Angeles were expressed.

"Uptown Rocker," Hamrol's $113,000 concrete-and-steel sculpture, installed on a traffic island at 4th Street and upper Grand Avenue, features a parade of brightly colored cars speeding along an arc of concrete that might have broken loose from the street.

"It's the playful treatment of an exasperating, everyday subject," said the Venice-based Hamrol, a graduate of UCLA. "The arc and the cars playing in the arc can be seen as a portion of an endless loop. If you close this up there's no hope, but I left it open, so it's optimistic.

The 35-foot-high piece will be dedicated at noon today at the sculpture site. A reception will follow in the plaza at 400 S. Hope St.

Hamrol's reaction to the bumper-to-bumper blues is the first art piece commissioned by the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency from its $500,000 Bunker Hill public project art fund, a part of the Bunker Hill Redevelopment Project.

Donald Cosgrove, acting administrator of the agency, said five different art projects were initially considered for commissioning, and a panel that included curators and directors from local galleries and museums chose Hamrol two years ago.

"One of the staff members thought there was merit in his work and proposed this," Cosgrove said. In the end, Hamrol was unanimously recommended.

The base of "Uptown Rocker" was built like a freeway overpass support. Above the concrete stem, which is planted 25 feet into the ground, is a concrete slab that arches skyward. Stationed on the concrete are six steel car-shaped cutouts that seem to be escaping the clog of vehicles. The one-ton cars are about seven feet high.

"Overall, the scale is monumental, and the treatment of this subject is kind of toylike. These complex, sophisticated objects of the 20th Century are becoming logos," Hamrol said.

The piece was placed on the island because of its gateway location to downtown redevelopments.

"Uptown Rocker" is a departure from Hamrol's usual creations, which often fit quite subtly into the landscape, yet provide a focal point or gathering place.

"It's basically an upright piece," Hamrol said of "Uptown Rocker." "It doesn't grow out of the surrounding streetscape. It looks as though it broke away from it.

"With some of the largest buildings in L.A. there, it's a weird site. It required a special kind of response on my part to be able to digest the monumental scale of the architecture . . . that most people were driving by at 35 m.p.h. in one direction."

Although no new pieces have been scheduled to be commissioned, Cosgrove said the agency will probably provide additional works in Bunker Hill.

Hamrol, whose other sculptures can be seen from Alaska to Florida, wants to design a park or large public area. He already has done much in Los Angeles--such as Exposition Park's "Twenty-One Stones"--and is pursuing additional projects on the home front.

"We're gonna put these up all over Los Angeles," he said.

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