What is that big chain by the L.A. River? [updated]

Denim Chain on Trees by the L.A. River | Roberto Fonseca


GLASSELL PARK —  It’s a puzzling sight. A large chain that hangs about 50-feet across a row of headless palm tree trunks standing next to the L.A. River channel. What is this exactly? Turns out it’s public art.

An opening reception was held last November for Denim Chain on Trees, a large sculpture installed on a lonely and desolate stretch of what’s called the Bow Tie Parcel, an undeveloped ribbon of state parkland that runs between the river channel and the train tracks.

The links are attached to palm tree trunks | Roberto Fonseca

Visible from both sides of the river,  Denim Chain was created  by artist Julia Haft-Candell features eight large links made from foam wrapped in denim that had been dipped in resin, according to Clockshop, a nonprofit that has been hosting art events on the site.  Part of the chain has now fallen apart, and it’s not clear if it’s going to be fixed.

What is Denim Chain on Trees supposed to be about? That’s not really explained on the Clockshop website.

If you want to see Denim Chain up close, be prepared for a long walk south from the entrance to the Bow Tie parcel near West Casitas Avenue.

chain sculpture by L.A. River in Glassell Park

Update: At the request of The Eastsider, artist Haft-Candell provided more information about her sculpture:

“In terms of meaning behind the piece, I was inspired by the strangeness of the truncated palm trees that were already onsite at the Bowtie Project. For many years I have made small porcelain chains, and decided to scale up the chain form and use more lightweight materials to drape over the palm trees, both as a symbol of utility and decoration. The denim also represents both utility and decoration, and I think these seemingly contradicting ideas can describe much of the varied landscape of Los Angeles. The chain can be a symbol of restraint, separation, pulling or hoisting, but paradoxically can also represent connection, joining, linking and holding.”

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  1. “a chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link” -my dad.

  2. Hi Roberto,

    Denim Chain on Trees is a continuation of the formal sculpture that Julia Haft-Candell has been making for years in clay. This commission allowed her to explore working in a larger scale, and in new media. Clockshop commissions artists to make new work, and the Bowtie Project often serves as a perfect site for artists to experiment with scale and working in public, outside of a gallery setting. All work at the site is temporary, per our agreement with California State Parks. Due to human and natural forces, all work at the site is susceptible to damage. The chain has been repaired in the past, but there is currently no plan to fix the broken link before the piece’s eventual deinstallation.

    If you would like to know more about Julia Haft-Candell’s work, visit her website (http://www.juliahaftcandell.com/index.php/archive/), or her solo show, on view through September 2 at Parrasch Heijnen gallery (http://www.parrasch-heijnen.com/current/).

    • You should be morally responsible for taking it down.
      Please tell me who I am to call where I supported this with my tax dollars.

  3. I’m sorry, I’m late to this train of thoughtfulness … and lack thereof.
    I completely get your idea of chains, but what really are you being chained from, or who? Are you born and raised in Glassel? When we’re you born? Tell us more about your family’s experience here, please? What bothers me the least actually is your lack of conscience in your materials. Foam? Resin? Cotton? You don’t care about the sustainability of your country.

  4. I’m not sure the city or park service commissioned this sculpture. Seems “guerilla” in nature. I agree with Marina Chavez that it should be removed without using city funds.

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