WeHo might yank aging artwork off prominent Fairfax corner

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The Arts and Cultural Affairs Subcommittee of West Hollywood is conducting a thorough review of the city’s deaccession policy for urban artworks, particularly examining “En Passant” by Barbara McCarren. This evaluation could lead to the first deaccession in the city’s history.

Located at the intersection of Santa Monica and Fairfax Boulevards, “En Passant” was installed in 2000 as part of the Santa Monica Streetscape Master Plan.

This plan, completed in 1999, was designed to enhance the pedestrian experience along the boulevard through widened sidewalks, double rows of street trees, enhanced medians and public art installations like “En Passant.”

The artwork’s design draws from the game of chess, a nod to the Russian heritage of the neighborhood. The installation features bamboo columns that represent various chess pieces, such as knights and pawns, and granite pavers that indicate the paths of these chessmen. The landscape was meant to mimic the movement of chess and add a dynamic and interactive element to the bus stop garden.

The project earned Santa Monica Boulevard the designation of a “Great Street” by the American Planning Association in 2011.

The city’s deaccession policy, updated in 2021, stipulates that artworks in the Urban Art Collection should be considered permanent unless they fail to maintain their physical integrity, identity, or usefulness. The criteria for deaccession include threats to public safety, excessive maintenance costs, adverse community reaction, lack of aesthetic or historical value, and other factors. The subcommittee, aided by Rebecca Ehemann, Arts Manager, and Marcus Mitchell, Public Art Administrator, is tasked with assessing “En Passant” against these criteria.

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They have prepared recommendations for the Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission to approve the deaccession criteria identified for “En Passant” and that staff proceed with compiling detailed information as per the Owner Process to Request for Deaccession in the Urban Art Guidelines.

As part of the review process, community feedback and an independent assessment of the artwork’s condition are crucial. Barbara McCarren — who received her BA in Fine Arts, Magna Cum Laude, from the University of California, Los Angeles, and her MFA from the University of Southern California in 1986 — will be notified of the proceedings in compliance with the Visual Artists Rights Act and the California Art Preservation Act.

McCarren’s notable public art commissions include projects at Pershing Square Park, Cesar E. Chavez Park, and the San Francisco Zoo, among others. She was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, Visual Artists Fellowship in 1988, and received a Design Excellence award for the Santa Monica Boulevard Transit Parkway Project from the City of Los Angeles in 2003.

The Subcommittee may decide to seek additional community input or request further information before making a recommendation on the future of “En Passant.” Possible outcomes include the replacement of the artwork with a new piece or revising the maintenance agreements related to the piece. The final decision will rest with the Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission, which will consider whether to approve, modify or reject the deaccession proposal.

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hifi5000
hifi5000
15 days ago

The artwork spoken of in this article is right near the MTA bus stop for route 4 that I use on occasion.I didn’t even know it was a artwork set up by the city until I read about it in this publication.

I don’t recall seeing a plaque discussing the artwork at that location.It might be a good idea to survey the area and see if a plaque can be installed to explain the artwork which would make it more noticeable to passersby.

dave
dave
19 days ago

I attended the sub committee hearing regarding this item and I am happy to inform all that they are going to ask for input from the public. They are a great group of individuals whom want to engage with the community.

JF1
JF1
22 days ago

One of the nicest corner due to the greenery at that location and they want to take it away?! And of course without public input. It’s just their kingdom…and we happen to live in it.

Public Input Needed
Public Input Needed
20 days ago
Reply to  JF1

The commissioners must seek public input. This is one of the more valuable installations in the city and the concept should be expanded rather than reduced or eliminated.

Outraged
Outraged
23 days ago

If the city of West Hollywood is going to “yank” anything that is outdated, past its alleged usefulness, and refresh the overall look and operation of the city, why don’t they start with yanking Septic Shyne out of office by popular demand??

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
23 days ago

The artist must not check off any identity politics boxes, or have a stake in the oppression olympics. Just a guess.

BloodshotEyedGuy
BloodshotEyedGuy
23 days ago

If anyone wants the art piece to remain, just paint a rainbow flag on it.

Last edited 23 days ago by BloodshotEyedGuy
Christopher Roth
Christopher Roth
23 days ago

Oh your life is so unfair.

:dpb
:dpb
23 days ago

The fact that an award winning art installation is being called out as passé or too old or no longer relevant by the current city administration is so spot on for this disgusting group of hangers on. This administration with their self centered, all about me, self promoting agenda wouldn’t know art if it fell on them. God forbid something should remain from a previous time in West Hollywood. This administration will tear it down, rape the corner of Santa Monica Blvd and Fairfax and leave it in an inferior state just as they have done with the city since… Read more »

angry gay pope
23 days ago
Reply to  :dpb

Award winning? I find it super underwhelming.

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