Happy 10th Anniversary, Urban Light!

The whole city loves you, and the world does, too. Cheers!

What to Know

  • 5905 Wilshire Boulevard
  • Always free to see

If you were to compare the vintage lampposts comprising artist Chris Burden's "Urban Light," the monumental glow-tastic artwork that sits near Wilshire Boulevard on the Los Angeles County Museum of Art campus, to a grouping of candles on a cake, well, no one would dare claim you'd taken poetic license.

For the 202 cast iron lamps, which hail from the 1920s and '30s, do possess a bit of a candles-on-cake quality, while the sculpture as a whole is quite celebratory in appearance, nature, feel, and vibe.

Let's not blow out these considerably colossal candles, though, on the happy occasion of the now-iconic piece's 10th anniversary.

It's an occasion that will be formally observed on Thursday, Feb. 8 by Michael Govan, the director and CEO of LACMA, Mayor Eric Garcetti, and artist Nancy Rubins, the widow of Chris Burden, as well as several other museum staffers and supporters of the instantly recognizable, forever-talked-about artwork.

"The event will conclude with an announcement from the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation on their support of the work, and a ceremonial lighting," is the good word from the Miracle Mile art museum.

Now wait one second.

Perhaps we misspoke. Perhaps the well-restored lamps of "Urban Light" aren't birthday candles so much as beacons, miniature lighthouses drawing people in from the choppy sea of non-art-a-tude to a vibrant place where ideas, profound thoughts, connected community, and inspiration hold forth daily.

And lighthouses, even little ones, last for a long time, longer than the merry but momentary run of birthday candles.

We're content to see those lamps shine on, nightly, for decades to come, all to the delight of locals, visitors, couples swinging by for a quick engagement photo, pop-up dance videos, and people not interested in photographing the experience but rather waltzing and weaving through the lampposts in a playful and in-the-moment manner.

To say "Urban Light" is loved is an understatement, akin to saying its also amazing neighbor on the LACMA campus, the boulder of "Levitated Mass," is heavy.

It's an artwork that, in just a decade, has gained fame around the world and an allegiance locally that's reaffirmed with every new social media post that spotlights the enormously snapshottable sculpture.

Mr. Burden passed away in 2015, but his gift to LACMA, LA, and the future shimmers on in the form of those tall candles, those short lighthouses, a non-growing grove of glow.

However you describe this delightful, always free-to-see artwork, be sure to wish it a happy 10th next time you swing by for some "Urban Light" love. 

And, surely, for many "Urban Light" aficionados, it is something akin to love, in both directions.

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