Keep your eyes out for the surreptitious guerilla art that appears on fences, bus benches and light poles here in Larchmont and Hollywood – it’s from environmental artist “Elkpen” who wants to connect the public with the natural history of Los Angeles. It also brightens some dour street scenes in the process, and educates us about natural history.
Preferring to stay anonymous, Elkpen posts her artwork, mostly paint on cardboard, in cheerless areas, or locations where she hopes the public will stop and take note of the natural environment around them. Readers may recall the Buzz story about the anonymous Kingbird sign that alerted residents to a new flock of the big birds who have made themselves home, and heard, here in the Larchmont area.
“I want people to be reminded of what LA used to be – what the Spanish may have seen when they first arrived in Los Angeles. Grizzlies were a keystone species in the LA basin. The area had vernal pools and seasonal rivers from rain, that were full of frogs and fresh shrimp,” Elkpen told the Buzz.
The artist, who lives between Larchmont and Hollywood, named her street art project, Elkology, focusing on “the interactions between organisms and their environment.” She borrows public spaces for short periods of time, and often her art gets stolen or moved to new locations. “I’m using these urban spaces as placeholders for something unexpected – like wildlife – which is disappearing in our world. I’m bringing attention to its vulnerability.”
If you haven’t caught sight of one of the Elkpen paintings around town, you can always duck into Landis Gifts & Stationery at 138 N. Larchmont and ask to see the casual exhibit “Birds of Larchmont” high on the walls of the store. Just don’t ask owner Edie Frere to reveal Elkpen’s real name – she’s bound to secrecy.
About Julie Grist
Julie co-founded the Larchmont Buzz with fellow buzzer Mary Hawley in 2011 and served as Editor, Publisher and writer for the hive for many years until the sale of the Buzz in August 2015. She is still circling the hive as an occasional writer.