Silver Lake whitewash

SILVER LAKE –– The long-vacant Sunset Pacific Motel — aka Bates Motel – went from eyesore to conceputal art project this week after being coated with a whitewash. Not only was the exterior of the motel coated with limewash, so was the property’s  chainlink fence and barbed wire as well as neighboring  palm trees and a billboard. “It’s art,” one of the workers said today as he tried to explain Projection, as the temporary artwork is known, to a man pushing a shopping cart past the Sunset Boulevard building.

Projection, which is described as a “temporal intervention into an iconic piece of LA’s architectural history and urban lore,” will last only two weeks, with an opening date scheduled for April 26. The project was conceived by Vincent Lamouroux, who used a similar concept in a Paris park, where several large clumps of trees were turned snow white.

What’s the point of Projection? Says the press release:

Just as the Silver Lake neighborhood itself has transformed radically in recent years, an continues to evolve, so to will the artist’s iteration of the motel embody a transformation, surrendering and passage; the white surface of its facade will be a symbolic invitation to project our ideas about both its mythic past and its indeterminate future.

Workers began spraying the limewash on Monday the interior of the courtyard but it was not until this morning that the work began to attract attention. The limewash is described as an “ecologically safe” material that will eventually erode and fade away.

Lamouroux, who was dressed in white pants and shirt as he smoked a cigarette outside the Sunset-Pacific this morning, said he first saw the abandoned motel 14 years ago while driving by. More recently, Lamouroux said he thought about using the property as a way to explore how the urban landscape, in this case Sunset Boulevard, is viewed and used.

“Instead of putting, lets say, a sculpture in the middle of the courtyard, I thought I had to capture and to take the entire space,” Lamouroux said.

The owners of the three-story motel at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Bates Street plan to eventually demolish the structure to make way for one of three large apartment buildings.

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Palm tree trunk gets sprayed with white limewash


Vincent Lamaroux (left) and worker in front of whiteawshed motel courtyard.

Vincent Lamouroux (left) and worker in front of whitewashed motel courtyard.

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  1. Would someone, anyone, please tell me how this qualifies as “art”? I don’t even think it qualifies as “craft”.

    I do recognize that it is better looking than before, but really, can we all have higher standards before we call something “art”? And can we have higher standards before we accept someone as a bona fide artist? Silver Lake is supposed to be full of artists, yet the residents of Silver Lake seem to have the lowest standards for classifying something as art.

    • Hey, Steve M – . Not long ago in this Comment section I referred to someone’s tattoo as art, and got smacked by another commenter who declared that tattoos don’t qualify as art. I believe many of them do — and, to me, the Bates Motel property in its weird, snowy reincarnation is indeed art: creative, imaginative and it gives me a completely new way of looking at these familiar objects. Take a look in the dictionary at the many definitions of “art.”

      • It definitely is NOT snowy. I was just over there, and it is simply painted white. So what. I think its stupid.

        I do think they bullshit about it is arts, though. That;s the only art about the project, they mindless hype.

        I note, they also have half of Sunset Blvd. closed so they can use two cranes to spray paint it – why use a ladder.

        • Thank you Tom. I think the greatest thing people can do FOR art, is to call out and criticize that which we believe is not art. But it seems that peer pressure works on middle aged people as it does on high school students. Few dare to announce that they are not swallowing what someone – including the writer of this article – claims is “art.” Instead, they want to pretend they see some meaning in it, and some level of artistry, where none exists. Those people are all over the place in EP and SL.

      • Nora, you may think tattoos are art, but I don’t. Our standards for use of that word “art” are obviously very different. I see tattoos as blight. I know that people who operate tattoo shops are people I would never have in my home. As tattoos are a blight on one’s body, tattoo shops are a blight on my neighborhood.

        • wow…before i just thought you were some mildly annoying christian conservative type, but now i see that you’re just an asshole.

          what other types of people would you never have in your home, just so we’re all clear?

          • Atomz, he is not an ass*ole; he is an snobby queen. Duh! I actually agree with him about the art thing though.

          • I’m not a Christian, Atom. And Juan, I’m not a queen. (Since it matters to both of you, I’m highly educated, an atheist, enjoy the arts and music quite a lot, I suppose I am considered snobby, but mostly by people like you two who think any application of paint or ink, or in this yawner of a project, white powder, should be considered “art.”.) You’re comfortable with your standards, as I am with mine. We however, would have a hard time being friends…

            The comments from you both are quite funny and puzzling. Maybe you two would have the types of people who hang out at tattoo shops over for a dinner party, but please don’t invite me because I’m not coming. The people I socialize with are polar opposites of that, thank you.

          • Heehee, I certainly didn’t mean queen as a pejorative; more like a badge of snobby honer.

            By the way, to further your point, Subway calls the people who make your sandwich “sandwich artists”.

          • Thanks Juan, I like you 1/2 way. That’s more than I like AtomZ. You have a sense of humor that AtomZ lacks.

            So those drop-outs making Subway sandwiches are also known as artists? Really? Oh, we are in Los Angeles. Never mind.

    • Here’s the thing with art… if someone put something out there and labels it as “art”, then that’s exactly what it is.

      You’re certainly welcome to write it off as stupid, contrived or just plain bullsh*t. But that doesn’t really matter. It’s totally subjective. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, as the saying goes.

    • This is art by definition. Also professionally and culturally Duchamp settled the argument about what constitutes art a long time ago. This kind of work has been been accepted into the cannon of art by professional for decades (Christo) so in any professional sense it’s also art.

      That you would presume to tell people it’s not is not only arrogant but from a professional standpoint ignorant.

      It’s transformative and provocative, challenging and disruptive. It engages the community.

      You may not like it and it may or may not be good but it’s definitely art.

    • This is just too funny! LAist.com suggests not reading the comments on this project! Found right here: http://laist.com/2015/04/18/photos_whitewashed_motel.php:

      “Remember that French artist that wanted to cover a motel in Silver Lake in white powder (that isn’t coke)? Well he’s made that a reality and it looks quite spectacular. The abandoned Sunset Pacific Motel a.k.a. the Bates Motel at Sunset Boulevard and Bates Avenue has been coated in a white limewash by the French artist Vincent Lamouroux, and he made sure to cover an adjacent billboard and the palm trees as well. Lamouroux calls the piece Projection and describes it as: “An abandoned space is transfigured and enhanced, perhaps eluding its last glory.” It also looks kinda like an Ed Ruscha. For those of you with an eco-minded conscience, don’t fret because the limewash is eco-friendly and will wash away in a few weeks. Projection, while obviously already visible from the street, will have its official opening on April 26. The motel will eventually be demolished for, what else, but new apartment buildings.
      The Eastsider has some more info on the project along with some great pictures. But avoid reading the less-than-enlightening conversation about what “art” is in the comments. Never read the comments.”

      My response to LAist: Do you consider yourselves any authority for telling readers what to read and what not to read? Do you have a problem with comments other than yours on what is art and what is not art? Can we agree on this one thing LAist?: This is indeed a “project.” That it is an “art project” we disagree. Welcome to non-lockstep thinking…

      I wonder: Had the “artist” been from Borneo would he get the title of artist from the Eastsider or LAist?

      Not a chance… He’s from France….

    • I guess what is art is in the eye of the beholder. To some, this is art because it is the artists vision of expressing the transformation of one thing into another. Like Andy Warhol painting an exact replica of a Brillo soap pad box onto an enlarged wooden box the same shape as a real Brillo soap pad box. To some, it is just painting a building white. I like it and think it’s art. To each there own opinion.

    • If I can find the time and a key not currently in my possession, I will be there for the”opening” on April 26. If I’m there you will find me standing all in white, leaning up against my deaf and blind neighbor’s 1974 Chevy Caprice, parked curbside right in front of this wonder of an art project. The Caprice is missing the rear passenger side door so it will be easy to spot, but moreover, this Caprice will be sprayed all in white with Christmas Tree snow, left under my sink since 1998. I’m hoping that can still sprays, but anyway, yes, this is a good art idea, don’t you all think? Oh, and I’ll be poised there with a cigarette in hand, because I will have become an artist. Move over Vincent Lamouroux. Here comes Steve M. LaFaux. Vincent, that will be Mr. LaFaux to you, sir.

      Oh, and my neighbor won’t mind.

  2. Even though I dislike installation art, there is something interesting about this artwork. It kind of creates the impression of the building as a sculptural piece, like it was chiseled from one piece of stone.

  3. Annoying crap, that’s all it is. ART died some time ago (like several centuries).

  4. How symbolic.

  5. This cannot be good for the trees. Totally unnecessary and so basic.

    • I thought that at first too. But then I remembered that this is just a short term thing, and then they are tearing it all down to build a HUGE 100+ unit development, one of three the developer is doing, the other two right at Sunset Junction. The trees will be taken down for that too, so either way, they trees are dead. But yes if the trees were not about to be killed anyway, the paint would do so.

  6. FYI I believe they received some funding from the SLNC . Whether you think it’s art or something less your tax dollars in some small way helped pay for it. (And for the record I find it kind of surreal if a bit simplistic as a piece of installation art).

  7. Oh look, people on the Internet commenting about art!

  8. I saw this this morning and my first concern was that painting the palm leaves will prohibit them from getting sunlight. Can a palm tree be okay after 2 weeks of not adequately feeding itself?

  9. For a cunning deconstruction of ‘modern art’ see Tom Wolfe’s “The Painted Word.”

    • I JUST read some passages from that yesterday! This unfortunate piece is not even clever enough to warrant messing with those trees like that, but perhaps the owners want to kill the trees anyway. Make way for more apartments!

  10. I think the hard white surface of the building represents all the rock cocaine that the motel’s residents smoked there in the 1980s and 1990s.

  11. Drive by yesterday and LOVED it!

  12. Sassy from Silver Lake

    The question is not is it art or not. The question is — is it good art or bad art?

  13. Who cares? It’s a way better version of that derelict heap!

  14. Since it’s called “Projection” I’ll venture a guess that we will soon see some fantastic mapped video projection on it. I bet it will be mind-blowing and all you nay-sayers will be begging for more!

  15. It’s just as big an eyesore as ever, and the owners should be forced to live in it.

  16. The obnoxious smoking frenchman who whitewashed the nasty old building and trees is meh, as the kids say. But these comments – these comments made my night. Thank you Silverlake – you are hilarious. Sleep tight.

  17. The promoter of this project can do whatever he prefers with his property but I think he should be aware of boundaries and respect those beautiful palms. Those three palms will definitely suffer with all that white paint covering every single inch of their leaves and trunks. How about if the “artist” or owner (or both) cover themselves in white paint instead and stand in the entrance of the motel greating their guests? That would make it even more interactive, wouldn’t it?. Be respectful of your environment people please!

  18. Whether it is “art” or not, that paint on the palms may very well kill them, even if does eventually wash off.

  19. Those palms are part of the city’s common pool resources. Who ever is responsible for painting them white should be fined.

  20. white washing this building does not improve its appearance but instead draws attention to the changing cultural landscape of the area. white washing as a loaded word brings attention to the race and income of new residents.

    and btw, white washing palms trees hurts people’s feelings more than it does the trees. google it.

  21. If I can find the time and a key not currently in my possession, I will be there for the”opening” on April 26. If I’m there you will find me standing all in white, leaning up against my deaf and blind neighbor’s 1974 Chevy Caprice, parked curbside right in front of this wonder of an art project. The Caprice is missing the rear passenger side door so it will be easy to spot, but moreover, this Caprice will be sprayed all in white with Christmas Tree snow, left under my sink since 1998. I’m hoping it still sprays, but anyway, yes, this is a good art idea, don’t you all think? Oh, and I’ll be poised there with a cigarette in hand, because I will have become an artist. Move over Vincent Lamouroux. Here comes Steve M. LaFaux. Vincent, that will be Mr. LaFaux to you.

    Oh, and my neighbor won’t mind.

  22. Sassy from Silver Lake

    Humm…So alot of water is needed to wash off the whitewash…… Pretty stupid in a drought. And it isn’t good art. Second rate Christo.

    • Agreed, and he missed a few spots. It is a debacle of a project. Rinky dink non-sense posing as art, but 3/4 of the art community is calling it “great.” Common artist community peer pressure…

  23. Doesn’t matter what it’s called, it looks cool.

  24. make sure you announce the closing of your mind and the hardening of your arteries with a bitter comment about someones work “not being art”. nothing says curmudgeon like the words “its not art”. make sure you get mad about it also. be it the new music the kids are listening to or a new form of slang make sure you get pissed off about it and complain to who ever will listen. it was better in the old days. whatever happened to painting some thing the way it looks? it not rock its just noise.

  25. I’m not sure whether or not it’s art, but I had sex in that sleazy little motel when it was taking its last breath. It sure looks better whitewashed.

  26. Check out the drone video we did of this property / project.

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