Artist Richard Ankrom took it upon himself in 2001 to install a new highway number on a Los Angeles freeway sign to help ease congestion and improve traffic flow. Now, some 8 years later, California traffic administrators have replaced the altered sign with another that incorporates his helpful directives for drivers.
In broad daylight, wearing an orange vest and hardhat, Ankrom hoisted a ladder and walked onto a catwalk above one of the city’s busiest arteries, and installed his own freeway sign additions, which were designed and manufactured exactly to state specifications. (At the time, I reported this story in my former print newsletter, Some Good News)
The sign was so authentic that highway officials let it remain in place for more than eight years, until its removal recently under a standard scheduled replacement.
He called it Guerilla Public Service, art for the public good. Check out Ankrom.org to see more photos and video of his historic catwalk.
An LA Weekly report from December 30 tells the tale of Richard trying to get his sign back. He had autographed it on the reverse side, but the sign had been crushed into a recycler’s bale, set to be sold to China. He tried in vein to buy the bale, but, ironically, regulations prohibited the sale.
The photos below compare his altered sign (top), to which he added a “5” shield and the word “North” above an arrow, with the state’s replacement (bottom). Congratulations to Richard on this official affirmation for a job well done.