If a building is painted to look like a vision from an acid trip had by Dr. Seuss, would people notice? I would guess that, yes, everyone would notice. You’d careen your head in that direction while driving to see it and try to check it out if you could. You’d probably hope there were cool things going on there and that it was a hotspot, vibrant, bustling, and colorful on the inside just as it is on the outside. This is the case with 9901 block of Washington Blvd, a painted building that is now vacant and–unfortunately–about to be gone very soon.
A few weeks ago, we were in the area for an event and saw this building from blocks away. It was like some weird colorful oasis that we had to get to. When we arrived there, hoping to find great restaurants and neat shops (since it’s across from the Kirk Douglas Theatre and Sony Studios), we were shocked to find it mostly vacant with places that were less than exciting filling the store fronts. The spot has been home to many failed food spots and businesses, including the once lauded Mezza Mediterranean Grill, Delhi Biryani House, an El Pollo Loco, and the most recently closed, sometimes indie Culver Plaza Theatres. The block was basically a joke, which is a shame because it is covered in a huge painting. It’s as if everyone is blind and no one has thought, “Well, this is a cool neighborhood, we’re across from a cool theatre…why don’t we do something cool here?!”
No. Instead it just sat with stores coming and going as no one cared–the artwork remained, though. The piece is Ed Massey’s Syncopation. The painting is “a monumental 241-foot long canvas that is stretched to the exterior of the Culver Plaza Building in Los Angeles.” It is 7100 square feet and is 35 feet high. According to Massey’s website, it is “situated at the gateway of the newly renovated, historical art deco section of Culver City,” which it no longer is anymore. Constructed in 2004, it must have been made during a time when this area was poised to boom. Such a large piece isn’t just made for fun: it’s made to catch your eye for a reason, which it does.
Massey also constructed the piece specifically for the building, using canvas that is stretch on to the building itself. It isn’t actually painted onto the building itself, making it a pre-street art boom piece that was made on various canvases and then tacked onto the building. You can imagine that it took a lot of work to create the piece…but, again, it has fallen on blind eyes. Below is a video of Massey working on the piece, which you’ll find was posted to YouTube in 2008 (when it was must have been shot in 2004).
Maybe blame the pre-Internet boom or it being too far from the Culver/Washington intersect (ahem, it’s like three blocks away)–who knows? Regardless, the building is in extreme danger. In trying to track down Kennedy Wilson, the people handling the building, we stumbled upon a Culver City Patch article that literally went up hours ago, basically saying we have less than a month before the building is demolished. Why? Because they are going to build a bunch of shit on top of the land it was on in hopes of “mixed use development space.” If you ask us, this is a bigger upset than yesterday’s “WTF??” demolition story that explained the soon-to-arrive Sunset Junction apartments–but no one has said anything about it.
Sure, all of the stores in the building had gone under, which sucks and is a death sentence to the space. But, why didn’t anyone in the city or at the theatre across the street or at Sony do anything about it? Instead of this cool, artsy, historical art deco-ish building, they are going to knock down a slice of time to build some assumedly stupid monstrosity. Perhaps it is for the best, maybe, but no one is taking into account Ed Massey’s work. This is one of those “Well, we’re too late.” stories, which really sucks. We wanted to give Massey the recognition he deserved for making the building stand out. No building that any developer will put in will ever look as cool as it does not–no matter how much money is pumped into it.