May 18, 2015

Photo Essay: Bates Motel, Vacant and Whitewashed (Updated for 2018)

[Last updated 6/30/18 9:13 PM PT]

It was one of the most shocking things to see in LA: an abandoned motel – so creepy, neighbors nicknamed it the "Bates Motel" (not only because it's on the corner of Bates Ave and Sunset Blvd) – completely awash in stark white.

At first, it seemed like some kind of strange primer for demolition – after all, the property had been purchased by developers, and the former Sunset Pacific Motel had stood there, derelict, for way too long.

But even the trees were white. Who would paint palm trees?

But this spectacle was not part of the Bates Motel's imminent demolition: was one giant art project.

And the white coat wasn't paint, but rather an earth-friendly powder known as limewash, which would eventually fade and wash away.

But at least temporarily, with this site-specific art installation "Projection," artist Vincent Lamouroux removed the invisibility cloak from this long-ignored, abandoned building...

...and by turning it into a blank space...

...made it more visible than ever... stark contrast to the blue sky, even whiter than the clouds above.

Some photos of it, set against a saturated blue, give the illusion of a photo negative...

...forcing the eyes to adjust and readjust to understand what is being seen.

Technically this art installation was only open April 26-May 10, but what does it mean for an art show like this to "close"?

Perhaps taggers will reclaim the property and bring color back to its surfaces, as they did before it was whitewashed. At least it's being used – at least it's being noticed – before it's gone forever. Out with a bang, as they say.

circa 2018

Update: As of June 2018, the Bates Motel is still standing and still white, though, as predicted, taggers have had at it somewhat. The fronds of the palm trees have mostly returned to their natural color, though the trunks are as starkly white as ever.

Supposedly construction on a new development—perhaps mixed residential and hotel—could start as early as 2019.

I'll keep an eye out.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: Rhyolite's Ghost Town Ghosts
Photo Essay: Sugar Sphinx and Her Attendants Sweeten the Abandoned Domino Sugar Refinery
Photo Essay: Linda Vista Hospital Comes Alive With "The Groundskeepers"
Photo Essay: Mr. Brainwash Art Show 2011 Closing Night

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