The Beverly Center has recently installed two large-scale, public-facing art installations for the center’s iconic glass-enclosed escalators facing Beverly and La Cienega Boulevards. Renowned Los Angeles contemporary artist Pae White was commissioned to create artwork that will be one of the largest public art installations on display in Los Angeles.
White has created two ambitious site-specific and site-responsive artworks unified by the artist’s desire to make physical the elusive qualities of light, an inspired response to Beverly Center’s escalator: light-filled, glass-enclosed, vitrine-like passageways characterized by constant movement. Experiencing the artworks, therefore, is progressive: viewers look at the artworks, often close up, from a moving escalator. The artworks also function as a backdrop to the spectacular views of Los Angeles. But there is another view to account for, that of the work seen from outside, from the sidewalk below, from adjacent buildings, or even from the hills—a view that allows for another type of image entirely.
On Beverly Boulevard, White has created a sculpture composed entirely of light. Over 900 unique pieces of hand-shaped neon covers the five-story expanse of the wall, each piece keyed to the perceptual temperature in the daylight spectrum. Although technically an all-white monochrome the different temperatures create hues of pale pinks, peaches, blues, and yellows that play across the wall in a random pattern of lines, curves, and shapes derived from an ornamental rug. It’s a kind of magic carpet. The enclosed volume of space, illuminated day and night, is effectively an enormous SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) lamp, absurdly and wittily augmenting the constant sunshine of Los Angeles.
Once prevalent in Los Angeles—and potently evocative of the glamour of Hollywood the place, and the Hollywood of movies—neon is now used less and less. White pays tribute to its glow and its attendant light effects, its nostalgia. The title of the artwork, for instance, references the cinematic technique of “day for night,” that is, the simulation of night filmed in daylight. Like neon, this technique is now mostly outmoded, replaced by newer technologies. As well, the repetition of words in the title Day for Night for Day creates a metaphorical loop, pointing to the circuit of the up and down escalators, the eternal return of the sun, and of course, the redundancy of daylight spectrum neon in the land of sunshine.
For the east-facing La Cienega escalator, White has created a vast tile mural of moonlight. Using colors associated with four types of moons—harvest moon, strawberry moon, blue moon, and snow moon—the mural is composed of 73,635 pieces of tile glazed in over 100 colors. Metallic glazes in copper, gold, and platinum add dimension and focus, a dazzling punctuation of reflected moonlight. The multicolor four-part modules—and no color combination module repeats across the entire expanse—allow for shifts in orientation and rich color. Indeed, the complexity of color is akin to that of impressionist painting: a shadow might be composed of dozens of purple hues. The moonlight colors, shining across the wall as if cast from outside the passageway, create a dazzling and tactile visitor experience, especially for those reveling in the new nightlife at Beverly Center. Rendering something as ethereal as moonlight in earthy clay demonstrates the artist’s innovative way of thinking about everyday materials and with them, transforming everyday places into spectacular artworks.
“In their simultaneous explorations of the phenomenological effects of light,” says White, “both art installations generate different experiences during the day and the night. The neon of ‘Day for Night for Day’ offers one kind of experience during daylight hours and another kind at night when its illumination is most prominent. The same applies to ‘Moonsets for a Sunrise,’ though conversely: the “moonlight” colors are most glorious in the morning sun.”
The new art installations are organized by esteemed independent curator, Jenelle Porter. “Pae has matched Taubman’s commitment to the Los Angeles art community with these two ambitious art installations,” said Porter. “In my opinion, she is the only artist who could make such incredibly beautiful and keenly intelligent works for Beverly Center; artworks that will contribute to the already rich cultural landscape of this city.”
This project is a continuation of the art program that began in 2016 during Beverly Center’s two-and-a-half-year renovation. It featured temporary art installations by L.A. artists Tanya Aguiñiga, Lisa Anne Auerbach, Ed Fella, Julian Hoeber, Karen Kimmel, Barbara Kruger, Liz Larner, Anthony Lepore, Sharon Lockhart, Geoff McFetridge, Dave Muller, Catherine Opie, Harsh Patel, and Gary Simmons.