Most people are unaware that Los Angeles has 14 historic bridges spanning the Los Angeles River. Maybe they have glimpsed them from the freeways, or driven over them without thinking about them.
David Eddington, an artist from England who has lived in Venice since 2001, is fascinated by the Los Angeles bridges. His exhibit at Frank Pictures Gallery, “Endangered Bridges Over the L.A. River,” features metallic acrylic paintings of the bridges that render them as classic art objects, dream visions, and personal portraits.
Eddington has taken each bridge and given it a color palette that conveys its spirit as he sees it. His rendering of the “Macy Street Bridge” at the border of downtown and East L.A. concentrates on one of the bridge’s Spanish Baroque porticos, as if it were a miniature white Greek temple. “Drawn Bridge” represents the underside of a bridge, with all its girders painted in a greyish tone, accented by dabs of red (rust?).
The “ 4th Street Bridge” seems to be a night view, with the bridge’s balustrades and piers in vivid red and a background in deep blue. If one looks closely, outlines of human figures can be faintly seen under the bridge.
“Under 7th Street Bridge,” on the other hand, is the happiest of the paintings, if happiness can be gauged by the colors – bright yellow, green, and red superimposed on the underside of the bridge, as if the rust of “Drawn Bridge” had changed to the flowers of spring.
The largest canvas is the spectacular “Water Levels,” a view of two bridges, the one in the foreground a viaduct (a multi-span bridge that crosses both water and land features). The dark tone of the viaduct, the bluish water (admittedly prettier than the water that actually flows in the L.A. River), and the misty golden sky create a setting that suggests a world of bridges stretching into infinity.
Eddington found it inevitable that the bridges of Los Angeles should serve as his models and muses. As he says in his artist’s statement, “The grandiose aspirations and sadly displaced persons of L.A., random metaphors for dominance and progress, are here on my doorstep.” So the human figures that are half-hidden in some of these paintings represent those displaced individuals who indeed live under the bridges. Eddington’s work reminds us that the bridge can be home, a transportation tool, historical document, memorial, art object, and civic symbol.
The Eddington exhibit at Frank Pictures Gallery is being presented in conjunction with the Los Angeles Conservancy, which has provided booklets with information about bridges for both adults and children. A portion of the proceeds from sales of Eddington’s paintings will go to the Conservancy to help maintain and restore the bridges.
The L.A. Conservancy recently held a workshop for children at the gallery, where artists guided children and their parents in making bridges from paper and plastic soda straws. As they discovered, building a bridge isn’t as easy as one might think. But thanks to the Conservancy, and to Eddington’s attention to authentic details of bridge construction, even as his artist’s eye transforms the structures, “Endangered Bridges Over The L.A. River” is an education in bridges.
“Endangered Bridges Over The L.A. River” shows until September 10 at Frank Pictures Gallery, Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Avenue, 310.828.0211.