In the Name of Art: 340-Ton Boulder Treated Like a Rock Star

The rock at a quarry in Riverside I Photo by Ed Fuentes

With a deadline approaching, crews in a quarry just outside Riverside spent Saturday preparing the 340-ton boulder for an early November delivery to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

The rock is the environmental source material for earth artist Michael Heizer's "Levitated Mass," a major outdoor installation at LACMA. Yet, the logistics to deliver it has already made the stone a celebrity.

The slab of granite is becoming a rock star with a posse.

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The rock at a quarry in Riverside I Photo by Ed Fuentes

The Rock, so named by the movers, has a customized ride; a carrier frame on a 196-wheel 44-axle trailer that will be pulled and push by two trucks. Along for the trip will be a crew of 15, including drivers and steerer. With CHP, police escorts, and utility crews, the entourage could reach up to 60 people.

"It's the first rock we moved, and the first delivery to a museum," said Rick Albrecht of Emmert International, the designated mover of the package.

"The engineering department got into it, and designed how to load it into the carrier," continued Albrecht as he stood next to the 200-foot trailer frame that is being modified for the stone. "We started with the largest one we had."

"Whenever we park it, it will be guarded and kept safe," he explained. "Once we get it loaded and secured, a company will come in and shrink-wrap it, so no can muss with it."

The rock will creep 14 miles per day between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., with speeds topping at 5 miles per hour. The route is a slow weave throughout the region, avoiding low underpasses while staying on roads that can handle the girth of weight. Some utility lines will briefly be moved out of its path.

The project, including transport, has been reported to cost between $5 million to $10 million, and according to reports, now expected to begin its trip west on Nov. 2 or 3.

Once at LACMA, the boulder will be suspended on a 465-foot-long, steel reinforced trough giving the illusion it is floating. "Levitated Mass" is now expected to open in December, 2011.

The rock will roll more than 100 miles | Image via ZevWeb

About the Author

Ed Fuentes is an arts journalist, photographer, graphic designer, and digital muralist who covers a variety of topics and geographies in Southern California for KCET.
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