LACMA “Rock” to roll tonight
February 23, 2012
Los Angeles art fans may feel like they’ve been waiting since the Stone Age, but it looks like that 340-ton boulder heading for LACMA could be on the road as early as Tuesday, if not the following week.
The Rock, as it has come to be known, is to be the centerpiece of a massive outdoor installation by artist Michael Heizer, who purchased it seven years ago from a Riverside County quarry. It has been waiting there ever since while museum officials worked with a heavy-haul transport company to negotiate its passage from the Inland Empire to the Mid-Wilshire District.
“Nothing is set in stone yet, no pun intended,” said LACMA consultant Meg Spieker Thomas, but all signs are that The Rock’s departure is nearing.
It was scheduled to roll last August, but its progress has been fraught with postponements. First its transporter had to be custom built and then its movers had to plot a surface-street route that could handle a hunk of granite the size of a 2-story building.
The route finally was settled back in October, but then problems arose as word leaked that this would be an unconventional shipment, and the haulers began to negotiate permits with the 21 cities and four counties through which The Rock required passage. Most communities were accommodating, but a handful raised multiple issues. At various points, intervention was required from members of the Board of Supervisors.
Despite the fact that most of the roads being used are longstanding truck routes, Chino insisted that blueprints and repair records be extensively researched to prove that the transporter wouldn’t damage water pipes serving Chino Hills homeowners. Lakewood and Long Beach called for tree trimming to ensure the transporter wouldn’t sideswipe their landscapes. Diamond Bar and Chino demanded that core samples of their pavement be tested. Gardena wanted special assurances that if its street lights were damaged the city would be reimbursed.
“Heavy hauls move through these cities every night,” Thomas said. “People failed to understand that this one was just getting special attention because of the art factor and the publicity.”
But by this week, most, if not all, concerns had been addressed and state permits had been issued for a Tuesday, February 28, departure. Haulers have already shrink-wrapped the rock and loaded it onto its special transporter. Should some snag arise, preventing a Tuesday departure, Thomas said the move would probably be rescheduled for the following week.
The rock will travel only at night, escorted by eight California Highway Patrol officers. During the day, it will be parked and watched over by four security guards. Its layovers, with one possible exception, will last only a day and most will be in the middle of various roadways, with space on either side for traffic to detour around it. The epic journey is expected to take nine or ten nights, traveling at less than 10 miles per hour.
The public will be able to track its progress via LACMA’s web site or a special museum hotline that will be made public as soon as The Rock hits the road.
It’s official. LACMA announced Friday that The Rock will roll Tuesday at 11 p.m.
Transportation, made possible by Hanjin Shipping, will take about 11 nights, covering 22 cities and four counties. The heavier half of a massive outdoor artwork, “Levitated Mass” by Michael Heizer, the 340-ton boulder will eventually be positioned over a 456-foot-long concrete slot on the LACMA campus. As visitors walk through the slot, the boulder will appear to be levitating.
It is scheduled to arrive at LACMA in the wee hours of Saturday, March 10, and open to the public in the late spring or early summer. Those who want to follow its progress can check LACMA’s Rock hotline at 323-857-6262 for questions, or click here for updates. Want to check out the route? Click here.