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When Art Turns Into A Real Public Service


For those of you living in Los Angeles, you know how confusing freeway signage can be–especially on the 110 North headed towards Pasadena. There’s one point in particular on the 110 N, where up to six freeways merge. Being a conservative driver, I know there were many times when I diligently stayed in one lane thinking it would lead me to the 5 North, then curiously ended up in Pasadena. Artist Richard Ankrom felt the same way too. Instead of contacting Caltrans and possibly waiting 5+ years for the problem to be fixed, he did it the bad ass way and changed the signage on the 110 North himself.


In August 2001, Ankrom along with his team of guerrilla artists created a steel plated sign that was en exact replica of the Caltrans “North” sign and the “5″ shield. Even after Ankrom had divulged his secret to Caltrans, eight years had passed and the sign silently remained intact. It wasn’t until the day after Thanksgiving 2009, that Ankrom discovered through a blog that his sign had been taken down by Caltrans, sent to an aluminum recycle center, ready to be delivered to China in neat cubes.


His work did not go unappreciated by Caltrans, however. To his delight, Caltrans merely upgraded and replaced the old signage on the 110 North with shinier, less suggestive signage. It’s a decade-long secret that I had never known about until last weekend. (Thanks GOOD magazine!)



We Angelinos may be some of the crankiest drivers out there, always in a rush, but if you’re ever on the 110 North take a second or two to admire Ankrom’s beautiful and fearless piece of guerrilla work.

More information on the project can be found here.

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