Client: Park La Brea Apartments
Location: Los Angeles, CA, United States
Completion date: 2005
Artwork budget: $125,000
With palm trees lining the outdoor grounds of Park La Brea, a fossil-like sculpture of a saber tooth cat emerges half-sunken from a sandy floor. This skeletal sculpture injects a modern, iconic interpretation of natural history into the realm of unusual public artwork. However contemporary its purpose, the sculpture’s dramatically enlarged scale and dinosaur-like appearance produce a playful investigation into the prehistoric life force that once animated LA’s sprawling desert basin. Only blocks away, the La Brea tar pits – one of the most recognized fossil localities of the Earth’s last Ice Age – draw hundreds of thousands each year to study and learn about its peculiar geographical and geological personality. These remarkably life-like, sculpted remains of a storybook creature bring imaginative access to La Brea’s fossil excavation pits and unearth the forgotten history of a modern metropolis. Residing at a unique juncture of the arts and recreation, and delicately integrated with its surrounding landscape, this sculpture also has a practical purpose: a children’s playground and climbing structure. While interactions with fossilized remains are typically limited to detached observation, this sculpture invites the viewer to touch, explore, and discover its disjoined features.
This sculpture based on its prominent location was a to be a focal point for the neighborhood, recognizing the nearby historical La Brea Tar Pits, and the practical purpose of creating a public amenity: a children's playground and climbing structure.