I was a student with my first camera, living above Tower Records on the Sunset Strip, in the mid-1960s. My father, Felix Landau, was an art dealer whose gallery was by then a cornerstone of the L.A. art scene. Pop art was just emerging, and I was sensing a divide between the more classical European-influenced fine art on display in my father's gallery and the exuberant, vibrant art of American culture in all its bawdy and commercial badness.
Traveling along Sunset Boulevard on my way to school and seeing the hovering billboards was like having a pop art gallery at my fingertips. The most fleeting and colorful of them promoted rock 'n' roll bands--back in the day when album cover art was a full square foot, not a postage stamp-sized icon on an iPhone screen. Sometime around the Summer of Love, a billboard of someone like Paul Anka was dismantled panel by panel, returned to the Foster and Kleiser studio on Washington Boulevard and adorned with a fresh coat of paint featuring Jim Morrison and the Doors. A fire had been lit.
For the next 15 years, fantastic pop culture masterpieces exploded on the Strip, featuring the likenesses of rock stars, from the Allman Brothers and the Beatles to Neil Young and Frank Zappa. These oversized monoliths saw the light of day for a month or two and then went the way of, well, Paul Anka.