Great world cities, and smaller creative hamlets, too, very frequently have a resident artist, or a few artists, who have represented the vision and character and esprit of place through their often monumental artworks.
For Los Angeles, Chris Burden was such a fearless forward-looker, a creator who captured our pulsating, bright, zippy, and complex nature in out-sized pieces such as Metropolis II (all of those tiny cars whizzing) and Urban Light (the lamp forest that's fast become the city's shimmery heart). Both installations can be found at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Mr. Burden passed away on Sunday, May 10 at the age of 69, news that shocked many fans and friends according to reports. The Topanga-based artist had not discussed his melanoma diagnosis widely.
Tributes have been pouring in, and one of the most moving of all will be something that had already been in process: A new installation by Mr. Burden called Ode to Santos Dumont, a man "widely considered the father of aviation in France."
The "kinetic airship sculpture" opens to the public on Monday, May 18.
As with so many of Mr. Burden's work, there shall be movement of some sort. Like the cars of Metropolis II begin to roll, to the thrill of onlookers, and the bulbs of Urban Light start to glow come sundown each night, Ode to Santos Dumont will engage in "indoor flight in 15-minute intervals throughout the day."
Tethers, helium, and "a highly balanced and refined mechanism" will work in concert to compel the sculpture to move in a 60-foot circle.
A large sculpture that isn't bound to the ground? Ode to Santos Dumont makes a beautiful and thematic neighbor for Levitated Mass, the walk-under boulder that's just outside of its Resnick Pavilion home.
It's a home that the airship will keep for four weeks only. See sculpture fly at particular times throughout each day, save LACMA's closed day which is Wednesday, from May 18 through June 21.
And pause to give a thought of thanks to the airship's imaginative visionary, one of LA's big dreamers and great storytellers.