The artist S.C. Mero and the sculptures she's left for you to discover on the streets of DTLA
You may have missed it at the L.A. Art Show over the weekend.
Amid the 130 galleries on the convention center floor, zooming past the Chinese ink paintings and intermittent performance art happenings was a lone orange construction cone on wheels. It zigzagged through as many as 20,000 people a day, befuddling onlookers and leaving delighted, squealing children in its wake. Some jumped out of its way. Others posed for selfies.
Never more than about 100 feet away was street artist S.C. Mero, controlling her artwork with a hand-held device. A commercial art fair in the convention center might have been a counterintuitive venue for a street artist, but that’s exactly the point, Mero said.
“I wanted to flip things,” she said. “A cone moving? It trips with your brain. It gives an inanimate object a personality and was just funny. And it’s just showing imagination. I think a lot of art and creativity is about showing possibilities of how things can be. The cone in motion throws people for a loop.”
The cone was part of Mero’s eight-piece solo exhibition presented by Art Share L.A., a nonprofit supporting emerging local artists. Mero’s public art installations, which she’s been making since she graduated from USC in 2011, typically dot the sidewalks of downtown L.A.’s Arts District, where Art Share L.A. is based. The conceptual sculptures employ humor to shed light on pressing urban issues such as gentrification, drug addiction and homelessness.
“I just love how Sarah directs a lens onto dire societal issues,” said Art Share L.A. Executive Director Cheyanne Sauter. “But she relies so much on the accidental audience, and I wanted to make that more intentional by bringing her there.”
Crowds, including celebrities such as comedians Patton Oswalt and Jeffrey Ross, stopped by to ogle her three-piece, 12-foot-long serpent made from wood and roofing felt, her fire hydrant on fire, as well as a mosaic made from stripped pennies and titled “Change.”
The real point of exhibiting at the convention center, Mero said, was to shine a spotlight on her street works and the issues they reflect — and to direct people outdoors, where the works are left to be admired, photographed, removed by the city or stolen. She creates the sculptures in her skid row art studio and sees the work as a public service of sorts. Art Share’s booth at the convention center had maps to five of Mero’s sculptural installations.
“I think it’s impossible not to be moved by the homelessness crisis,” she said. “Just moving one or two blocks over, from Main Street to Wall Street, you can’t believe it. The sanitation, the trash, the feces, just the living conditions.”
Only four of Mero’s five outdoor works connected to the L.A. Art Show remained on the streets by the start of this week. The day after the L.A. Art Show closed, Mero took The Times on a tour of her street sculptures. Here’s what she had to say about each one.