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Boom: Street Artists Call Attention to “Beauty of Urban Blight” on Broadway

BOOM! - A public art installation by S.C. Mero & Wild Life

Last week, downtown-based artists S.C. Mero and Wild Life completed a new public art installation at the corner of 4th St. and Broadway entitled BOOM! The project consists of five red dynamite bundles attached to the exterior walls of the abandoned, hollowed-out structure, connected to a cartoon-style detonator that Wile E. Coyote might use. According to an email we received from the duo, the artwork is a collaboration between the artists and a "consulting firm" Urban Decline Consulting that "specializes in showcasing the beauty of urban blight through the preservation of dilapidated structures".

The larger point is to ask the public to consider the way Downtown Los Angeles, and especially Broadway, are changing, and to ask what will be left when the transformation is complete. 4th and Broadway has become a magnet for illegal advertising, graffiti, remains of businesses long since forgotten, and other signs of urban blight. Chaz Bojorquez has described graffiti as being a bruise on a city; if that's true, the building at 4th and Broadway is a bloodied and battered derelict left for dead after a curb stomping.

To these artists, this is a beautiful sight, and one whose time is almost up. The same could be said of some of the people who live in Downtown-- as rents inevetibly rise, artists, the poor, and the undesirable will be swept out just as the building at 4th and Broadway will be detonated, with something bright and shiny, and free of graffiti and history, put in its place. While most of those visiting MOCA, the new Broad Museum, and Grand Central Market will call that progress, S.C. Mero and Wild Life ask them to at least consider the idea that the current incarnation of 4th and Broadway is beautiful as it is.

Full artists' statement and photos...

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On September 18, 2015 in conjunction with the opening of Los Angeles’ new Broad Museum, downtown-based artists S.C. Mero and Wild Life completed a new public art installation at the corner of 4th St. and Broadway entitled BOOM!

This project represents the collaboration between the artists and the consulting firm Urban Decline Consulting that specializes in showcasing the beauty of urban blight through the preservation of dilapidated structures. The installation which centers around 356 S. Broadway includes five brilliant red “Dynomite” bundles attached to the walls of the second floor, all strung together with a large fuse that leads to an outlandishly oversized plunger-style explosives detonator. Comic book-style cardboard cutouts declaring the installation’s title BOOM! adorn the wooden safety wall that encloses the property, mixing in with new and old advertising paste ups to create a layering effect as complex as the layers of politics that make up the city’s “Bringing Back Broadway” initiative. This new public art forces the viewer to confront the inevitable destiny that awaits this parcel of Broadway’s history, while giving the viewer the opportunity to enjoy the often overlooked urban decay.

The structure, located at one of the busiest intersections in downtown Los Angeles, was originally built in 1902 by architect John Parkinson as a seven-story office building, although it is unclear exactly when it was chopped down to the two stories it is today. In 2007 a structure fire ripped through the building leaving a beautifully hollowed out shell, a blackened piece of urban blight that has become home to numerous hastily scrawled tags, skillfully executed graffiti pieces, illegally posted advertising bills and decomposing business signage.

All day long, denizens of Downtown as well as tourists from all over the world walk past this ghost of a building on their way to the newly renovated Grand Central Market, MOCA, Disney Concert Hall and now The Broad without ever stopping to appreciate the broken windows or crumbling façade of this sadly ignored structure.

S.C. Mero and Wild Life are thrilled to be a part of preserving this hauntingly beautiful and historic masterpiece of Downtown Los Angeles urban blight!

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