Eric Garcetti

Motel as Art: “Projection” in Silver Lake

Artist Vincent Lamouroux painted an entire Sunset Boulevard motel white.

To roam the streets of Southern California is to constantly be open to surprise, to wonder and to occasional moments of jaw-drop-ing-ness as you zoom by an outlandish billboard or film set.

But even here, in the land where space shuttles roll down our boulevards -- and giant walk-under boulders, too -- we find ourselves occasionally agog by a sight suddenly seen by the side of a street. That shall happen again, from April 26 to May 10, when artist Vincent Lamouroux's "Projection" makes its Silver Lake debut. 

Unlike artworks housed in galleries, however, there is no door nor curtain to prevent anyone traveling Sunset Boulevard from seeing this colossal canvas: Mr. Lamouroux has painted an entire motel white. And not just the motel but a neighboring billboard and a few palm trees, too.

The monochromatic motel has been fully doused in an opaque white limewash, ground to roof.

Long dubbed "The Bates Motel" by some area residents, the inn stood empty for several years. The artist looked to "calcify" the structure, arresting in it in a single nearly-not-there state. (The structure, by the by, is the Sunset Pacific Motel.)

Does this broaden the viewer's ideas of decay and transformation, two notions that are ever-present in our vast and varied cityscape? Where shiny new buildings are constructed as some weathered spots, like aging motels, quietly crumble? 

The curbside discussions about this project will be quite lively, one imagines. Mayor Eric Garcetti calls "Projection" a "timely and symbolic gesture to our rich and artistic cultural landscape," so feel free to riff upon that as a possible conversation-starter.

Is the limewashed motel really there, even? Does it occupy a sort of blank space, a non-location, a place out of time? Or can it be viewed as a giant architectural model, as a statement about the project suggests?

Curbside viewers, have at it.

Find "Projection" at 4301 Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake. Everyone has likely experienced a few hiccups trying to locate a destination -- was it that building over there? Or that door? -- but we imagine that will not be the case, for any interested party, when it comes to finding this striking, convention-challenging structure.

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