Get Inspired at LAX with Three New Contemporary Art Installations

0 Comments 01 July 2015

Mark Bradford, Pae White and Ball-Nogues Studio transform our hum-drum airport.        

By Evan Senn


Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX just debuted three new public art works designed to greet departing and arriving passengers, and are amazing and surprising visitors left and right. These artworks, by Benjamin Ball and Gaston Nogues from the Ball-Bogues Studio, Pae White and Mark Bradford offer an aesthetic experience of calm reflection and artistic enticement among the chaos and anxiety inherent in airport travel.


Sarah Cifarelli, the art manager at LAX, loves curating and installing artworks in the unexpected spaces of LAX. “We’re bringing them an art experience,” Cifarelli told KPCC. “We’re bringing them something normally they would see in a museum and placing it in an airport, and really changing the idea of LAX and creating an impression of Los Angeles as a cultural, vibrant city.” The artists involved all have strong ties to Los Angeles—Mark Bradford, Pae White and the Ball-Nogues studio each resides or works in the L.A. area. Funds for the commissions came from the airport, with each installation budgeted at $1 million, according to Cifarelli.

Air Garden by Ball-Bogues Studio by Kelly Barrie

“Air Garden” by Ball-Bogues Studio, photo by Kelly Barrie.


She told the Los Angeles Times that the airport participates in the city’s “1% for arts” program, under which developers pay an amount equal to 1% of the construction value, with the money going to public art. The recently unveiled installations are on view on a permanent basis, she said.

The Ball-Nogues Studio created an “Air Garden” in the Great Hall, which consists of a huge mass of painted chains hung in a U-shape, with shifting colors and abstract content. Floating in the middle of the Hall, this splash of color invites and relaxes visitors. Nogues told KPCC that the idea came from the colors you could expect in your own garden at home—a spot of color.

Mark Bradford's "Bell Tower," photo by Kelly Barrie.

Mark Bradford’s “Bell Tower,” photo by Kelly Barrie.

Mark Bradford created a massive twelve-and-a-half-thousand-pound mix of salvaged plywood and weathered posters he found at construction sites all over L.A., and title it the “Bell Tower.” Something between a sports-score board at Staples center and a street-art-chandelier, the “Bell Tower” is a welcome surprise for passengers getting frisked by the TSA. “I wanted them to feel the idea of an urban environment,” he told KPCC, “but also those small little moments when you’re walking down a street and you run into a little doorway when it’s raining or something, and you’re sitting there and you’re involved in this urban environment, but you have this little space that’s safe and it’s yours.”

Pae White transformed the terminal’s north and south passageways as she brought 23 miles of custom-dyed cables in a rainbow-kaleidoscope pattern above the carpeted floors and moving walkways. The color palettes are intended to reference the colored-tiled mosaics by the late artist Charles D. Kratka, located in the airport’s terminals 3, 4 and 6. Like a psychedelic journey to another universe, White’s installation, titled “ΣLAX,” graces the tops of the heads of passengers travelling their monotonous routes, and brightens their whole venture.

Pae White's "ΣLAX," photo by Kelly Barrie.

Pae White’s “ΣLAX,” photo by Kelly Barrie.

“A lot of airports now have art programs,” Cifarelli says. “But I’d like to think that L.A.’s art program is on the cutting edge, because we’re really trying to push the boundaries of contemporary art and what you might expect to see in an airport.”

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- who has written 16 posts on Yay! LA | Arts & Culture Magazine.

Evan is the Editor-In-Chief of Inland Empire Weekly, Culture Magazine, and owns and operates the independent online art journal, Rogue Art Research & Writing. She has an M.A. in Art History and is a Curator, Artist, Graphic Designer, Editor and Writer. She has contributed as an arts writer for Beautiful Bizarre Magazine, KCET Artbound, OC Art Blog, OC Register, OC Register Magazine, Artillery Magazine, Local Arts Magazine, Culture Magazine, IE Weekly, Laika Magazine, Unite4:Good, and E-VOLVED Magazine. Past publications also include ArtScene, Juxtapoz, and Art Ltd. Follow her on at Twitter @EvanASenn. Follow her on Instagram at @senntastic.

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