You can call it the African-American art and culture renaissance in Los Angeles, L.A.
By 2020, Crenshaw Boulevard, a thoroughfare in Los Angeles, U.S., would be transformed by art when it opens a 1.3-mile open-air museum that planners say would celebrate black history and culture in L.A.
“Los Angeles has one of the last intact African-American communities anywhere west of Chicago, and the community’s made incredible contributions to the rest of the country and the rest of the world. The holiday of Kwanzaa, created right here in Los Angeles along the Crenshaw corridor.
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“Soul Train, the longest running television show and the show that really defined culture and cool for several generations, right here out of the city of Los Angeles. And so many other inventions, contributions and movements come out of this city,” Councilman Harris-Dawson said.
Thus, artists, architects, curators and landscape designers are developing plans for the monumental museum project that will use the “iconic Crenshaw Boulevard street as a canvas and anchor for public art and streetscape design.”
Destination Crenshaw, which will be built for, by, and in honour of the community, will “culturally stamp sidewalks, business facades, and public structures with more than 100 unique art installations, a dozen African American-themed pocket parks, and culturally-minded street and landscaping improvements,” according to California Community Foundation.
Inspired by California African American Museum deputy director and chief curator Naima Keith, as well as, the late rapper and entrepreneur, Nipsey Hussle, the project will also include a new public amphitheater with a raised overlook; pocket parks and parklets, hundreds of new trees and rotating works of public art by major African American artists, reports KCRW.
Anton Smith of the landscape architecture firm Studio-MLA, which is part of the design team on the project, said Destination Crenshaw is part of a “black renaissance that’s happening throughout United States… but placemaking at this scale, with black culture at the forefront of the discussion, with amazing artists from all over Los Angeles coming together on this project, that’s unprecedented.”
A call for artists posted last year required that applicants be residents of L.A. County for at least five years and be educated or employed in L.A. County for three years, reported the Los Angeles Times.
The community project took inspiration from African American art and culture destinations across the country including Harlem and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
However, Destination Crenshaw would be free and public unlike in places like Boyle Heights where L.A. Times reports that art gentrification has taken private forms and sometimes elitist.
The iconic open-air museum comes on the back of the construction of the Crenshaw/LAX line, an 8.5-mile light rail route that forms part of an ambitious project to connect LAX with L.A.
Estimated to cost $100 million, the art and culture project will be funded by the private sector and through contributions from local property owners. Meanwhile, LA Metro will support streetscape improvements associated with the project, such as new sidewalks, street trees, curbs, gutters, and pedestrian safety enhancements, reports KCRW.
Though there are concerns that the project would come with an increase in the cost of living, including a rise in house prices, observers say there will be a boost in tourism that will improve local and small businesses in the area.
The following video has details about the project that is expected to document and preserve a 205-year history of Black people within L.A.: