Los Angeles is a city of contradictions. It's as gritty as it is glamorous and as garish as it is restrained. But as anyone who loves this city knows, it is many things to many people. What you see when you're there comes down to perspective.
Take artist Lauren Halsey. When she looks at DTLA's glass and concrete streets around sunset, all she sees is color. "The way the sun sets on buildings downtown — you’ll literally be bathed in reflections," she says. "It just feels like a crazy fantasyscape."
Lauren is one of three artists who depicted her idea of Los Angeles in an installation at Made L.A. on June 9 and 10. She, along with Yumi Sakugawa and Gabriella Sanchez, splashed her work onto a three-sided mural in a project we teamed up on with Toyota C-HR. With each mural divided into several large panels — design on one side, mirrors on the other — the effect was a constantly shifting perspective. You saw something different every time you looked.
Each artist’s piece is drastically different, yet all feel distinctly L.A. Yumi's is the embodiment of Los Angeles minimalism. The comic-book writer and illustrator drew the city in black and white, integrating images that range from a bunny doing yoga poses to a burger and fries.
For Yumi, a self-professed meditation junkie, L.A. is all about finding things that make her happy. "Calmness, beauty, and rejuvenation in the midst of chaos, disorder, and distraction," she says, is what the city is for her.
For Gabriella, L.A. is a colorful hustle, and she appreciates the beauty that comes from millions of people making everyday life happen. "I love that its people hustle every day to try and make a life for themselves," she says. "People make their area beautiful in whatever way they can. Like there are shops that paint the items they’re selling, items that are really mundane: laundry detergent or batteries."
It's something that comes through in her installation, which elevates the minutiae of everyday life — street signs and convenience-store prices — into a statement about the city she calls home.
Lauren's piece is the most surreal, and that is hardly an accident: It's a geography set in outer space (you can see the stars and a spaceship if you look long enough). She remixes fantasy and nature with L.A. neighborhoods, particularly the neighborhoods that have heavily influenced her life — downtown, South Central, Compton, and Watts — to create an interplay that brings the prosaic to the stratosphere.
"I feel very empowered by the scale of L.A., so it always seems appropriate when I make geographies and put them in outer space," she says. "L.A. is huge. It's like the sky's the limit."