Without A Net

Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

What's the draw of a Levitated Mass now?

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“Now, that would be the last place I would want to be in an earthquake,” a LACMA visitor mused as she stood beneath the 340-ton boulder that makes up Michael Heizer’s "Levitated Mass". 

On a hot but pleasant Thursday morning this month, the rock attracted a very sparse crowd in comparison to debut when over 6,000 people welcomed it on opening day. More than 130,000 visitors have viewed it throughout the entire summer, according to LACMA. 

The museum information attendant mentioned that attendance had somewhat petered out in September, however, it's impossible to rely on ticket office sales as Heizer’s exhibit is free.  She also said that with the end of summer the museum as a whole sees a dive in numbers that is mostly attributed to what she called, “annual waves".  

Whatever the circumstances might be, the now iconic L.A. attraction that the LA Times called "a good sculpture if not a great one," seems to no longer be the show-stopper it once was.

Kyle Fitzpatrick, Editor-In-Chief and contributor of the art blog Los Angeles, I’m Yours, stipulates that it could be one of “the most Instagrammed art pieces in the world,” which may shed some light on the installation’s recent dearth in viewers.  

Fitzpatrick also openly admitted that if it hadn’t been for KCRW’s Good Food Pie Contest as the main draw to visit LACMA, he might have never gotten around to seeing the massive boulder.  He pointed out that, besides the poor parking options in the area, “for many museums and cultural institutions, there really needs to be a hook beyond a permanent collection and permanent installations to draw us locals out. It needs to be something really special or unique or-frankly—weird.”  

For Fitzpatrick though, tasty pies were the perfect motivation to seek out the exhibit and eventually publish a post paying homage to the piece by suggesting other possible items LACMA should consider to be levitated, one of which included a very memorable Levitated Steve Nash.

While, Fitzpatrick may have not particularly sought out to see the rock on its own, he is quick to promote it for its cost-benefit.  This exhibit, in addition to LACMA's Urban Light, is free. 

While some may argue that art should come with a pricetag, the prolific blogger sees both sides.

“All art should be free, in a certain respect,” Fitzpatrick told KPCC.  “Moreover, ['Levitated Mass'] not [having] a price is a good way to get tourists and more to be intrigued about what it is and therefore intrigued by the area surrounding it.”

Either way, Heizer’s exhibit has created a stir and quite possibly will become an L.A. staple.  And while it may be difficult to evaluate the boulder as a conceptualized $10 million art installation spanning over 40 years to come to fruition, it is definitely hard to forget the most blatant aspect of the piece, which is that it really is just a really big rock.

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