Artist who put mesmerizing art in Pershing Square sets sights on LA River

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The artist who put a giant glittering wave in Pershing Square in 2016 wants to create a similarly striking artwork at the Los Angeles River. But he needs to find a place to put it first.

Patrick Shearn of Poetic Kinetics had a conceptual design and a couple potential sites in mind for his installation, including the under-construction Albion Riverside Park in Lincoln Heights, when he presented the idea to the Los Angeles River Cooperation Committee this summer.

But upon further inspection, each of the prospective sites proved to be “unsuitable” to host the installation, says Marnie Sehayek, creative strategist at Poetic Kinetics.

Having a location for the art piece is especially important for this installation. The work would be a “skynet,” a net adorned with strips of fabric (or, in Pershing Square, mylar) and suspended so its catches the wind, creating an undulating sculpture in the sky.

Shearn’s skynets are site-specific, so important elements of the piece will be determined by the location itself, and the details of the project can’t really be final until a site is picked. Without those details, it’s difficult to do community outreach or get the necessary approvals.

That means Poetic Kinetics is on the hunt for an ideal place to set up its piece, and it wants to find one on the LA River.

Shearn “is really excited by the once-in-a-generation opportunity to contribute to such a significant development in our city,” says Sehayek, referring to the transformative changes planned for the river, which could bring everything from restored habitat in and along the river to better river access for walkers and cyclists and recreation space.

The river is a logical location for one of Shearn’s sculptures. Sehayek says the fluttering nets are meant to invoke swarming or a murmuration of starlings flying in a kind of coordinated dance, but the gently billowing nets are also very waterlike in their movements.

But putting an art installation on the Los Angeles River also potentially involves dealing with many more agencies, departments, and stakeholders than its previous projects in Pershing Square and at events like Coachella.

Sehayek says that navigating the bureaucracy of the river and getting approvals is time-consuming and will contribute to the speed of realizing the project, but it’s one they’ve anticipated.

“Though it’s a challenge, we do it with excitement,” says Sehayek.

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