‘The Chase’ Adds Artistic Drama to Santa Monica Boulevard

A coyote being placed on the Santa Monica Boulevard median. (Photo by Jon Viscott, courtesy of the City of West Hollywood)
A coyote being placed on the Santa Monica Boulevard median. (Photo by Jon Viscott, courtesy of the City of West Hollywood)

The median of Santa Monica Boulevard just east of Doheny Drive just got a little wilder – and the traffic more diverse – with the addition of “The Chase,” by Los Angeles-based artist Hacer. The work is comprised of four origami-inspired steel sculptures – two coyotes, two rabbits, two crates – dramatizing the primal quest for survival. The Chase is presented by the City of West Hollywood and WeHo Arts as part of the “Art on the Outside” public art program, which places art works throughout West Hollywood in its parks and on its medians.

The quartet of powder-coated pieces is arranged in two pairs, representing subsequent moments in the imaginary drama that unfolds. Going from west to east down Santa Monica Boulevard, “The Chase” begins with “Coyote, Stalking” poised for attack and looking east at its potential prey, “Rabbit Sitting,” which is unaware of the danger as it scouts for food. The next two sculptures continue the psychological narrative as “Coyote, Running” banks a fierce turn to gain on “Rabbit, Running,” who faces the eyes of its hunter. The two highly polished steel crate pieces in their path reflect the real world around them, intensifying the pursuit.

Hacer’s intent is for the outcome of the series to conclude open-ended, without a clear victor. Whether one relates to the coyote or to the rabbit, The Chase is meant to be viewed through a lens of commonality rather than difference, as each animal fights to survive in the face of limited natural resources. As in much of Hacer’s work, life is the equalizer, an antagonist who rivals both characters without discretion.

A rabbit on the run (Photograph by Jon Viscott, courtesy of the City of West Hollywood)
A rabbit on the run (Photograph by Jon Viscott, courtesy of the City of West Hollywood)

Hacer was first introduced to the art of origami when he was seven years old. A volunteer in one of the foster homes in which he lived read “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes” to him. In his artist statement Hacer says, “Born to teenage Mexican-American gang members, I was abandoned at three months old and placed in a series of foster homes. I was lost in a lifestyle of violence/drug abuse, which I escaped by creating a playful world that evolved from origami cranes”

As to his chosen name and the essence of his work, he says, “I broke from the violence of my birth name ‘Gomez-Martinez’ by choosing ‘Hacer’ [Spanish verb for ‘to make’] and became a sculptor who designs/builds large-scale, metal, origami-inspired forms in bold, solid colors…As I learn to shape my work, afraid, I move forward through the familiar unknown and learn to re-shape myself, lessening the past’s grip. Like the dynamic, formative process hidden by my seemingly simple designs, my work’s simple existence aims to elicit a dynamic response about the viewer’s relationship to their formative process: childhood.”

Recent major public art works by Hacer also are installed at locations such as the Wynn Macau Resort in China, the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood and the Mary and Al Schneider Healing Garden at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

Another Art on the Outside project, “Bus Stop,” a mixed media piece by Korean artist Yi Hwan-Kwon, will be removed on Oct. 4. Until then, it can be seen in West Hollywood Park on the concrete stage just north of the West Hollywood Library at 625 N. San Vicente Blvd. It features nine hand painted sculptures: a bus stop, a fire hydrant and seven unique “city” people, that have been stretched vertically, which disorients the viewer and encourages a moment of pause and reflection (127 x 57 x 22 inches). It is Yi Hwan-Kwon’s first public art exhibition in the United States,

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6 years ago

Now if we could just replace all the dead landscaping in the medians with drought friendly plantings (and faux grass?)…they wouldn’t look half bad.

6 years ago

Nice, WeHo’s version of fo hunting! The other night while on foot at the foot of Loma Vista in BH, two coyotes came cantering down top to bottom in the dark while I paused in a driveway. Beautiful!

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