For over eight months a pile of bicycles has been growling on the corner of 4th and Vermont in the Koreatown District of Los Angeles.
It sits on the western edge of a homeless encampment running from Virgil Street to Vermont Avenue on 4th. At first it was just another unwelcome pile of trash generated by the homeless encampment. To most it still is. But over a span of 8 months it began to take shape and is now attracting attention and major media to view the “art.”
Though this is one of the most decidedly different things to see in Los Angeles, if you are visiting LA it’s totally worth putting it on your bucket list. I can’t promise how long it will stay there. Neighboring business do want it removed (and can you blame them) but it has endured for nearly a year so far.
The sculpture was created by homeless artist Mohamed Natsche, though he says he is not homeless. “I live within a big artwork. It is my home.”
In the somewhat emotional video above, Mohamed tells us about the sculpture, the loss of his girlfriend and events that put him on the street. They had planned to open a bike shop in Redondo Beach. After her loss, he built the junk bicycle sculpture as a tribute to her life.
How this project has began reminds me a little of Watts Towers, the large “cathedral” with spires built entirely out of found objects over a span of 33 years. The Watts Towers were designated a National Historic Landmark and a California Historical Landmark in 1990. They are also a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument, and one of nine folk art sites listed in the National Register of Historic Places in Los Angeles.
While I doubt Natsche’s bicycle art will reach the same level of status, it is for now attracting a lot of attention. Drop by and see it. Talk to Mohamed. You’ll be glad you did.
See photos after the ad break.
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