Recently, visitors and residents of downtown L.A. have started to notice something unusual springing up in the City of Angels—something to make them more aware of their surroundings and bring a little more excitement to their day. This mysterious something that’s captivating California and starting to garner national attention is a fresh form of guerilla street art created by Calder Greenwood and his collaborator, known only as Wild Life.
Over the last few months, Greenwood and Wild Life have been discreetly planting papier-mâché, cardboard and wooden creations throughout the downtown area. A wooden tree popped up on Spring Street; a family of deer was spotted near Hill Street; sunbathers lounged in an empty lot; a lone surfer floated in the middle of the L.A. River; and the latest, two men battled a towering giraffe at the intersection of Alameda and 4th streets (the giraffe won). None were meant to be permanent, but all were intended to bring about change and activate public spaces around the city.
“We weren’t looking for recognition or attention, we just thought it was worth the effort of building and installing to see it realized—to change the environment, and hopefully get some people to notice,” says Greenwood. “We just hoped they’d stay up long enough for people to see them. We’re giving people something to look at, to make them more aware that the world around them can be changed, that it’s all a matter of perception.”
Greenwood and Wild Life’s innovative three-dimensional projects are all originals and are considerably calculated in their execution. Inspired by the engagements and interactions incited by street art, the two artists decided to create their first installation and see what happened from there. “We both individually had our eye on the same empty plot of land downtown, once we realized it we teamed up and made it happen,” says Greenwood. “We hadn’t planned to do any others, but after the positive feedback and media exposure, we kept at it.”
As individual artists, both creators keep busy with various undertakings and mediums. Wild Life admits that he’s always working on several projects at any given time—even while he eats—while Greenwood focuses mainly on film, including digital video, writing screenplays and building props.
Together, the duo agrees that the fleeting nature of street art helps fuel their creativity and drives them to keep creating. “Once we install it’s out of our hands—there’s no telling what will happen to it. Will it be removed, destroyed or respected?” ponders Greenwood. “So for us, I’d say the most rewarding aspect is seeing it successfully installed. The building process is done; the logistics of transportation solved; it’s in position, on whatever property, waiting for the sun to rise and the next day’s passersby to stop and take notice of it.”
x Eleni Snider
Photos by Stephen Zeigler