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SHEILA KLEIN

Vermonica 1992
Santa Monica Boulevard and Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, California
RIP Vermonica: A Statement From Sheila Klein
The main blog post is here.

On the evening of Tuesday, November 21, 2017, I received an email from a person that I don’t know asking me what had happened to Vermonica. Within a short time, through inquiries and observations from people in Los Angeles, it was confirmed that the piece had been removed and relocated to the lawn of the Bureau of Street Lighting field office, a couple of blocks away.

Here are the facts: the piece was intended to be up for one year and instead became a beloved icon in East Hollywood for 24 years. It was on private property. The property owner is redesigning the parking lot and asked the Bureau of Street Lighting to remove it by January 2018. Some years ago there was talk about the City of L.A. acquiring the piece so it would be protected. That did not happen due to the complexity of the situation.

I was not contacted. I do not own the poles. I wish they had involved me to redesign the piece for the new location, but they did not.

While the Bureau of Street Lighting put the piece on their property with the historic street lights in the order I designed, this is not my piece and it is no longer Vermonica.

I am proud that it lived for so many years and became woven into the vernacular of the City. I hope a new piece will emerge to keep this idea alive. In the coming months, it is my hope that a dialogue can begin and partnerships identified to bring the power of Vermonica back onto Los Angeles city streets in whatever form that may take. I am thinking deeply about what I think the next steps should be and I invite you to join this conversation.

Among the many complex issues involved is the idea that even if there is no legal standing, there is an ethical need to contact the artist. But the Bureau of Street Lighting is not in the business of making art and I doubt they think of this in the same way I do. The head of the Bureau’s Field Operations now is Jeff Ziliotto, who volunteered to work on the piece in 1992. His father was also a street lighter.

Here’s what I wrote in 1992 when I was trying to make this piece: “I am an artist who wishes to uncover romantic truths about the city. To get the average person to pay attention to their surroundings and the built environment, and to point out the sculptural significance of streetlights and complexity of the task of the city. The piece references the intimate household scale of candlesticks into an urban scaled candelabra for the household of the city”.

And from the Bureau of Street Lighting Notice #599: “The sculpture consists of 25 examples of the more than 250 styles of street light poles and fixtures which have been maintained in the City’s street lighting system. Some of these poles have not seen active service in the City system for 30 to 40 years. Many are fine examples of the artistry and craftsmanship that typified ornamental street lighting designs of the early part of the century. This is the first time that such a display has been assembled in Los Angeles.”

Vermonica operated within and outside of the realm of art. It had distinct lives in the art world, the arena of public works, historical preservation and the neighborhood where it was located

-Sheila Klein, November 24, 2017
artnet News
An Instagram-Baiting Museum in Indonesia Is Ripping Off Chris Burden and Yayoi Kusama
March 26, 2018
Indonesia has a knockoff of Kusama's "Obliteration Room" and Burden's "Urban Light." The latest made-for-Instagram “museum” experience is here, and it looks, to put it lightly, slightly familiar.
Read the Article
W Magazine
LACMA's Lamps, an Instagram Favorite, Have Quite a Drama-Filled History
March 23, 2018
Like Urban Light, Klein's Vermonica was a local signature, becoming even more of a gem as its surroundings turned into a strip mall dominated by a Staples. Even before that, though, the installation's popularity was clear.
Read the Article
Los Angeles Times
City and artist hit legal snag in finding a new site for beloved 'Vermonica' light post sculpture
March 14, 2018
An effort to relocate "Vermonica," the beloved light-post installation that artist Sheila Klein created in East Hollywood in the wake of the Los Angeles riots, has hit a snag.
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Atlas Obscura
Can Street Art Be Moved Without Destroying It?
January 24, 2018
From May of 1993 through late November 2017, if you were looking for the most interesting parking lot median in all of Los Angeles, there was a pretty clear answer.
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The Cranky Preservationist
Not Vermonica Blues
January 8, 2018
Episode Fifteen finds Nathan in East Hollywood, where Vermonica, his favorite public art installation, has gone missing from its namesake parking lot at the corner of Vermont and Santa Monica.
Watch the Video
West Adams Heritage Association Newsletter
Preservation Report
January-February 2018
2018 has been ushered in without any unsettling holiday demolition that has haunted previous years... but we weren't entirely spared as the legendary "Vermonica" art piece, which graced a strip of land in a mini-mall for the last 25 years, was uprooted and transplanted in front of the Bureau of Street Lighting offices, several blocks east of its original location.
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Los Feliz Ledger
No Longer Vermonica
December 28, 2017
For over 20 years, artist Sheila Klein’s streetlight sculpture Vermonica sat in an unassuming shopping plaza on the northeast corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Vermont Avenue.
Read the Article
Los Angeles Times
After 24 years at an L.A. strip mall, Sheila Klein's beloved 'Vermonica' light sculpture is moved without notice
November 30, 2017
The streetlights stood for 24 years like a row of silent sentinels in the strip mall parking lot at the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Vermont Avenue in East Hollywood.
Read the Article
Los Angeles Magazine
A Beloved Work of Public Art Just Disappeared from L.A.’s Landscape
November 28, 2017
If you’ve driven along Santa Monica Boulevard at any point during the last 25 years, chances are you saw Vermonica, a public art installation by Sheila Klein—though you probably didn’t realize it.
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Los Feliz Ledger
Our Own Streetlight Serenade
March 2, 2017
While the collection in front of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is more famous, the east side of town has it’s own streetlamp exhibition.
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Time Out Los Angeles
Before 'Urban Light,' there was 'Vermonica'
November 3, 2016
It's a candelabra-like cluster of old Los Angeles lamp posts meticulously arranged in a row and just off of a bustling boulevard. Except there are no snap-happy tourists here, just shoppers parking their cars on their way into Staples and Payless...
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Huffington Post
Meet L.A.’s Original “Urban Light"
June 8, 2015
Since opening in 2008, Urban Light has become an unlikely beacon in the City of Angels. The installation has drawn even more interest since creator Chris Burden’s recent passing.
Read the Article
I Love Los Angeles But...
L.A.’s Original Lamppost Art
March 27, 2014
Lovers of the “Urban Light” lamppost art installation that dominates the entrance to LACMA might want to head over to a nondescript strip mall in East Hollywood where the possible inspiration for Chris Burden’s work has been sitting for more than 20 years.
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Los Angeles Times
City of Street Lights
February 8, 2008
What does a dingy parking lot in east Hollywood have in common with the newly expanded Los Angeles County Museum of Art? Both now have prominent artworks featuring Los Angeles street lamps.
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