Northeast Los Angeles Placemaking Competition: Lita Albuquerque Art Installations


Project designed by LAND (Los Angeles Nomadic Division) and artist Lita Albuquerque

Project designed for entire NELA area

Project Summary and Scale

LAND proposes a site-specific public art installation by Los Angeles-based artist Lita Albuquerque spread along the entirety of the NELA riverfront. Approximately 50 gold spheres of varying sizes (fabricated in metal, painted gold, affixed to the ground) will be installed along the river demarcating the stars aligned directly above them.

Why are you committed to this project?

LAND is a non-profit public art organization committed to curating site- and situation-specific contemporary art projects. We are committed to this project as LAND believes that everyone deserves to experience innovative art in their lives. Moreover, artists deserve the opportunity to realize projects at unique sites in the public realm.

What are the most relevant characteristics of project site and scale?

Albuquerque will draw upon the exact star alignment above the NELA riverfront to place gold spheres aligned to a specific star directly above, creating another kind of constellation forming a network of interconnectedness between the viewer, the spheres, and the separate neighborhoods of NELA. The spheres will guide visitors along the river path while connecting the earth and the sky, and will create a beautiful presence on the riverfront to mirror and trace the stars.


Describe how this project will reinforce a sense of place or enhance the built environment.

Albuquerque will respond to the geography of the river and will reconnect NELA constituents with a larger history of place, reminding us in the process of everyday activities, that we are of a larger connectivity of matter. Visitors will walk amongst the stars as if they have fallen to earth, and will experience the unification of the light of the stars with the reflected light of the gold sculptures on the ground. This installation allows visitors to be a moving part of the cosmos above and to remember that our daily life is perpetually bathed in light from the stars.

Provide a description of the project's necessary planning activities.

Albuquerque will conduct research on the riverfront and map out exact star alignments.
The sites will be proposed and a final installation plan is submitted so the approval process can begin with all associated parties. After all specifications are established, production will begin. Outreach (press release and other promotions on social media) will begin and will continue throughout the project to continue presence/interest. Preparations to the site will begin four months prior to installation, and shipping and installation arrangements will be made. The work will be transported to the site and installed after an engineer signs off on all plans.

What is a rough estimate of your project budget?

$75,000 total, including artist honoraria, shipping/transportation, and installation costs. Other expenses include art handlers, PR/marketing to outreach to various audiences, with a focus on the NELA community, printing for handouts and signage, documentation (high resolution), insurance (general liability and fine art), and engineering to approve installation to insure safety.

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How does this project leverage existing resources and efforts?

Combining site-specific art with astronomy, physics, and geography, this project will serve as an educational tool for all ages, and will encourage dialogue about the history of Los Angeles by guiding people on tours of the work (and the stars) along the river. The project enhances our connection to the universe with a contemporary and poetic artistic approach, and will enrich public access to an interesting artistic voice of today by increasing access to art by a local Los Angeles-based artist. LAND's mission informs the execution of each of our projects and is in empathetic alignment with the mission and vision set forth by the NELA Riverfront Collaborative to improve NELA. This installation will speak to disparate audiences and will bring awareness to the LA River, enhancing a strong sense of neighborhood pride and identity, community well-being, and enhanced public spaces of the NELA river area and adjacent neighborhoods.

What community need is your project serving?

These site-specific art installations will not only serve as wayfinding devices through the entire NELA riverfront area enhancing its overall aesthetic, but they will also reference the specific site in which they are placed. Installing sculptures by a well-respected local artist will garner civic pride and draw national and international attention to the efforts to revitalize the area. Access to high-caliber art in constituents' day-to-day experience will help them develop new ideas and ways of thinking about their world and will feel a sense of connectedness to each other as well as the universe as a whole.

If your project is realized, what does success look like?

With an exhibition of museum-caliber work that will be free and open to the public, success will look like the general public fostering a greater appreciation and understanding of contemporary visual art. LAND offers direct interaction between community members and artists; allowing them access to their process, thoughts, and new work in a unique setting. We wish to bring together diverse communities of Los Angeles and this local artist at the LA River, and bridge the gap between artists and the public through critical dialogue and civic pride.

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