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Art is the message on these billboards

The works by several visual artists will appear in an area bounded by the 405 freeway and downtown L.A.

February 20, 2010|By Scarlet Cheng

In his billboard, two men in profile face each other from either end of the rectangular space -- and even though both are in dark skin tones, one is recognizably white, the other African American. Both are from the Getty collection: on the left is a 16th century Italian sculpture by Antico in bronze, and on the right an 18th century sculpture by Francis Harwood, identified as an African athlete in black stone.

The billboards began going up a week ago; each one will be up for one to two months. Various public programs will start Feb. 27 (a reception for the artists and bus tours), with film screenings, panel discussions and lectures to follow.

Chances are more people will see these billboards than work by the artists in a typical art gallery or museum.

"This is core L.A., it's all the major boulevards," says Robinson, the billboard expert. "The typical billboard in this area -- which is [seen on] surface streets -- averages about 35,000 plus impression opportunities a day," he says. That is billboard industry terminology for 35,000 plus sets of adult eyeballs that will see the board each day, and that doesn't include pedestrians.

"It'll be out of context somewhat," he says of the artists' work. However, he points out, "People love to be intrigued by a billboard."

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