By Luke Netzley | LA Downtown News
Los Angeles has long been home to diverse myriad innovative local artists whose work not only showcases their talent but demonstrates their perception of the world around them.
To bring new colorful life into the U.S. Bank Tower in Downtown LA, Silverstein Properties recently invited 15 local street and urban artists to paint the top floor of the iconic skyscraper. The U.S. Bank Tower is the tallest building west of the Mississippi, and murals will cover the walls, doors and even windows of the famous tower.
“The goal ultimately is to lease space in the building, but it’s also much more than that,” said Dara McQuillan, chief marketing officer at Silverstein Properties. “We’re trying to create a neighborhood around the building and bring some of the excitement, art and music that LA is known for internationally to Downtown. We wanted to have a bit of fun and create an interesting artistic and creative community.”
For the past six years, Silverstein Properties has worked with dozens of artists from around the world to paint murals in and around the new World Trade Center in New York City and are excited to do the same within the U.S. Bank Tower, which they acquired in September 2020.
The developer partnered with the Downtown BID as well as a variety of cultural and artistic organizations to put out an open call to artists earlier this year. They received over 60 proposals from artists across the city and a few from overseas, all with close connections to the city and working under the prompt “What does LA mean to you?”
Honoring the theme, the U.S. Bank Tower’s urban art installation celebrates the city’s unique history, culture and diversity with its paintings, including depictions of local street vendors, the LA Flower Market, and a tribute to muralist Nona Olabisi painted by legendary Downtown LA artist Man One.
“Everyone really had their own approach and theme,” McQuillan explained. “It was cool to not only hear everyone’s individual stories, but to have them eat together, work together and learn from each other was, for me, the most fun part of the entire week.”
By painting representations of people and communities that are often overlooked or marginalized, the artists could take their stories and elevate them to the 72nd floor, creating the highest murals in the state of California in an ode to the city of LA.
“This was a way to bring in street art, which is often overlooked but is a hugely visual part of life in LA, particularly Downtown,” McQuillan said. “We want to showcase the work and offer people an opportunity to come in and see something that you only normally drive by or see when you’re going into a shop but to give it a gallery on the highest floor of any building in the state.”
One of the challenges that Silverstein Properties has faced is that the murals are within a private office building that would not normally act as a museum or gallery space. That is why McQuillan is looking forward to hosting a series of open house days each month that would allow guests to sign up online and visit the space as well as admire the view of the city from the tower’s observation deck.
Silverstein Properties is also planning to partner with cultural arts and educational organizations to offer them access to the space so that members of the public, such as other artists or students, can visit and use the space in a variety of ways.
“If you’re an art school, why not host a class or do a studio in this space using the art and the city as a backdrop?” McQuillan said. “If you are a dance school, host a recital in the space and show off what it is that you’ve been working on. For the artists themselves, we want them to be able to use the space if it’s useful to them, too.”
Silverstein Properties will look to allow guests into the space by the end of April, and visitors will be able to register on their website at silversteinproperties.com.