Curves ahead for street signs

In­stead of the usual ‘Stop’ or ‘No Park­ing,’ Scott Froschauer’s say ‘Re­lax’ or ‘Breathe.’

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - JEFF LANDA jeff.landa@la­times.com Twit­ter: @Jef­fLanda

Los An­ge­les mul­ti­me­dia artist and fab­ri­ca­tor Scott Froschauer has left his mark all over Glendale, and his 20 pieces of street art will chal­lenge the com­mu­nity to sub­vert their ev­ery­day ex­pec­ta­tions of signs and lan­guage.

The Glendale Li­brary, Arts & Cul­ture De­part­ment un­veiled Froschauer’s “Word on the Street” art in­stal­la­tion Thurs­day at the Down­town Cen­tral Li­brary, and now his art pieces are dis­trib­uted through­out the city’s parks and li­braries.

Pulling from his pre­vi­ous work and ex­pe­ri­ences at the an­nual Burn­ing Man fes­ti­val in Ne­vada, his lat­est ex­hibit is an ex­per­i­ment with the tra­di­tional bound­aries of city-en­dorsed street art.

Glendale res­i­dents and vis­i­tors won’t find Froschauer’s in­stal­la­tion on a des­ig­nated wall, be­hind glass or dec­o­rat­ing the front of a build­ing. In­stead, ob­scured in the city’s parks are “street signs” that in­spire those who see them to sec­ond-guess their ex­pec­ta­tions.

“The main vis­ual lan­guage in street signs is tra­di­tion­ally neg­a­tive,” Froschauer said. “The project is about imag­in­ing how would we give re­as­sur­ing lan­guage in the place of neg­a­tive lan­guage.”

In­stead of the tra­di­tional “Stop,” “No Turn on Red,” or “No Park­ing Any Time,” which are signs that Cal­i­for­ni­ans are used to see­ing, those who are able to spot a Froschauer piece in the wild may be sur­prised by the more re­as­sur­ing “Re­lax” or “Breathe” posted on signs crafted in the same style as reg­u­la­tion sig­nage.

The “signs” in­ten­tion­ally mimic the forms of reg­u­lar signs as a way to pleas­antly trick peo­ple into re­ex­am­in­ing their usual sur­round­ings, Froschauer said, adding that the only way to elicit that type of re­ac­tion is in real time.

“One of the main things that is sim­i­lar be­tween the [in­stal­la­tion] and nor­mal Burn­ing Man art is its ex­pe­ri­en­tial na­ture,” Froschauer said. “It can’t be demon­strated through photo or video. The real im­pact of the work comes from be­ing present with it.”

Froschauer first at­tended Burn­ing Man in 2004 and has cre­ated large-scale art pieces for the fes­ti­val over the years.

He worked with Glendale of­fi­cials over the last few months to se­lect lo­ca­tions best suited to “sur­prise” and “de­light” passersby with his street sign pro­posal.

None of the 20 art pieces will re­place ac­tual street signs for safety con­cerns and, al­though left slightly hid­den for ef­fect, Froschauer in­tends for ev­ery­one to eas­ily dis­cover his signs.

“A side goal of mine [with the in­stal­la­tion] is that there are so many amaz­ing parks in Glendale,” Froschauer said. “Hope­fully, it will en­cour­age peo­ple to visit them all while search­ing for my signs.”

Raul Roa Times Com­mu­nity News

SCOTT FROSCHAUER with his “In­fi­nite Clear­ance” street sign art­work at Deuk­me­jian Wilder­ness Park in Glendale.

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