Wednesday, November 28, 2018

"Meet the anonymous artist installing bus benches at neglected stops on L.A.’s Eastside"

On a Sunday afternoon earlier this month, I find him at Valley and Soto, laying out slabs of wood and power tools. He is decked out in a bright waq’ollo mask typical of the Peruvian Andes (imagine a balaclava with a mustachioed face embroidered on it). The mask is to protect his identity; he prefers to remain anonymous.

Over the past 11 months, the artist has surreptitiously installed more than a dozen wood benches around the Eastside, and he has it down to a science: He props a ladder next to the bus sign, slips a handmade wooden bench over the pole and proceeds to screw, hammer and glue it into place. In about 15 minutes, the stop has a brand-new bus bench.


getting a bench or a shelter installed at a bus stop in the city of Los Angeles requires a frustrating level of red tape.

Any street furniture has to first be approved by the Los Angeles City Council. After that, a single bus bench travels through an extensive permitting process, requiring approval from the Department of Public Works, as well as eight — eight! — other city agencies including the Department of City Planning, the Bureau of Engineering, the Los Angeles Police Department and the Bureau of Street Lighting. Nearby property owners also have a say.