Northeast Los Angeles Placemaking Competition: Ruben Ochoa Art Installations


Project submitted by LAND (Los Angeles Nomadic Division) and artist Ruben Ochoa

Project designed for Atwater Village


Project Summary and Scale


LAND proposes to present a public art exhibition of three large-scale site-specific sculptural installations by Los Angeles-based artist Ruben Ochoa along the Los Angeles Riverfront in Atwater Village drawing inspiration from the industrial materials, such as concrete, used to build the river structure itself.


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?


Ochoa will punctuate this area of the river with three large-scale sculptures that play on the built environment. The sloping riverbed will be occupied with concrete slabs that have rebar "legs" that have seemingly sprouted from their underbellies, allowing them to crawl out of the water; a galvanized pole stretches over the river like an arch bridge; and sand/gravel from the river itself is used to create large masses that are reminiscent of cavernous shells.


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


Ochoa's practice investigates constructs and how they hinge and re-enforce the existing social, racial, and economic ebb and flow in Los Angeles. Attempting to abstract the social by examining the built environment, Ochoa is drawn to the architectural and structural elements of the river that affect one's interaction with these surroundings. His interest lies in the physicality of space as defined by its boundaries or other instruments of demarcation, like the omniscient transmission towers along the river. Instead of gesturing at a physical disruption, Ochoa creates spatial disruptions by inserting work onto these architectural structures to physically confront the viewer.


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


First, Ochoa will conduct research on the sites and specific community. The exact sites will be proposed and a final installation plan will be 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?


$40,000 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.


How does this project leverage existing resources and efforts?


This project will enrich public access to an interesting artistic voice of today, and will increase public 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 project will encourage people to examine the cityscape and find beauty in the shapes and forms of the built environment. This intersection of art and architecture, form and formlessness is of great import to Ochoa's practice overall, and this project will push these concepts into new areas. By playing with scale and employing familiar materials, this work will speak to disparate audiences and will bring awareness to the L.A. 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 Atwater Village L.A. River area, but they will also reference the specific history of the building of the L.A. River through their use of industrial materials such as steel and concrete. Creating monumental 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 enhance the overall aesthetic of the L.A. River.


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 L.A. River, and bridge the gap between artists and the public through critical dialogue and civic pride.

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