SoCal Connected on KCET

Silver Lake's 'Chandelier Tree'

Original Airdate July 2, 2013; Updated May 21, 2014

Adam Tenenbaum: This is my spot. It’s the same spot I sit and like evaluate them from. The first chandeliers that were hung on this tree where I believe three of them that were pulled off a job that I was doing..staging and set building and such. The client didn’t want them. I thought they were fantastic so I figured maybe I’ll bring them in the house, I’ll put them in the house. When I got them home, I realized they needed a bigger space they couldn’t really hang in the living room. I have a roommate – he’s an acrobat and an aerialist. He’s a good partner for hanging chandeliers. I don’t know, I got a ladder out there..I didn’t really have any attention on lighting. But once I got the second and third one up, all of a sudden it became like..”we got to light these.” I have a general contracting license. Actually plumbing and electrical are my disciplines. From there it just expanded. About six years to this day is when this project started.

This is the first chandelier that was off our property, it’s actually directly dead center over the street and it looks right up the street at all my neighbors. I knew when they were coming down in their cars they would see this one. It was our first kind of like public foray. Is everyone okay with it? We had three up there we thought people would be okay with it. But once you make the bold move of putting one over the street, you’re not leaving it open. It’s now commentable and the response from that was probably what kept me fueled to keep going on this. Almost every neighbor came by and went oh my god this is fun or oh my gosh this is pretty. You know. Or like, it was positive. Well, the original goal was I wanted to get 30 chandeliers in the tree. I figured it was a good, even number.

It would feel full and unique but not overbearing and gaudy. A lot of these chandeliers have come by through varying methods. There is no singular one. I didn’t go to a store and purchase 30 chandeliers and string them up. Being an artist without a ton of a budget here, most of these have come from either purchased by myself at swap meets or garage sales. We’ve had a few that have been donated. I’ve put ads on Craigslist seeing if people were interested in donating to a neighborhood project. I wouldn’t say that any particular method is better than the other. Little by little it’s all kind of come together. About 90 percent of them need a lot of work. They broke into parts, they have zero crystals whatsoever, the wiring is completely shot. I have some of them that I built from scratch, just old framework.

I had to recreate everything. Each one of them has a story. Some of them even have names. The kids that come around will name them according to what they visually look like. I think that’s a really awesome byproduct of doing something really public. It’s not just the life that we put into it. People have their own little tales from it. The parking meter as a functional device has actually worked really well. People like putting quarters in it they like the act of stopping and hanging out for a sec. I can say over the past…4 months..5 months’s made a good $400 I’d say. It actually helps with an electricity bill that’s pretty off the charts. There’s something about lights that maybe at least in this way that are at least a little bit magical that kind of cut across through generations ‘cause all the neighbors and kids come by and they feel free to stop and play here and hang here. You get a slice of everybody. I basically consider my front yard as a public domain. Hopefully I’m going to get the pleasure of making more of these. I’ve been contacted by some parties that were interested in me doing this on their property. If I could make chandelier trees into a full-time living, I think that would be a great way to give back to the arts scene in Los Angeles in a very non-pretentious way. It would be a very personal gift to people.

A neighborhood chandelier tree has become a mesmerizing attraction on West Silverlake Drive for the past six years.

The creator behind the magical abode is Adam Tenenbaum, a Silver Lake resident who probably pays more for his electricity bill than the ordinary resident.

The tree is a product of donations and purchases from swap meets and film sets. Tenenbaum says a lot of the chandeliers even have designated names.

Silver Lake's chandelier tree is just one example of art installed on private property throughout Southern California. KCET's Artbound has covered several art pieces found in Riverside, Altadena and San Diego.

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Featuring Interviews With:

  • Adam Tenenbaum, a Silver Lake resident


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