By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
La-La Land welcomes its biggest rock star ever
Placeholder Image

My idea of art is not five dogs playing poker.

And while I understand art is in the eye of the beholder, those who are ooh-ing and ah-ing over artist Michael Heizer have rocks in their head.

Heizer is the man responsible for making a 340-ton granite monolith a rock star in Los Angeles.

The 21.5-foot tall rock was hauled 105 miles from a quarry in Riverside County to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It is the centerpiece of Heizer’s creation he’s dubbed “Levitated Mass.” The 900-million-year-old granite rock will sit atop a concrete-lined trench some 456 feet long that museum folks refer to as “The Slot.” Visitors to the museum eventually will be able to walk into the trench and peer up at the rock.

The move itself has been one for the record books. Some $10 million in private donations had to be collected to pay for the move on a custom-built transport with 196 wheels. Since the transport was roughly 200 feet long and three travel lanes wide it could only move between 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. to avoid creating massive traffic jams. It could move about  5 mph and required the removal and return of numerous utility poles and traffic lights. The sight of the transport was so bizarre even by LA standards that it brought out gawkers by the thousands.

Long Beach went as far as to throw a day-long rock party that drew 20,000, There were stands selling - what else - but Rock Star energy drinks and Pop Rocks candy. The music played ranged from “We Will Rock You” to “I Love Rock and Roll.”

The Berkeley-born artist is among a small band of practitioners of what’s called landscape art. One of Heizer’s bigger “creations” was the cutting of a 1,500-foot trench some 50 feet deep and 30 feet wide in the mesa of the Nevada desert northwest of Overton. That required the removal of 240,000 tons of rhyolite and sandstone.

Aside from the obvious question as to why someone proclaiming to be an artist can mar the desert landscape for his personal gratification while those mining it and those who ride 4-wheel drive vehicles through it are demonized, how can someone call this art?

The answer is simple. Everything is art - to a degree. The architecture of the Great Pyramids is definitely art as is the Empire State Building and virtually every bridge from the parochial wooden bridge across the Stanislaus River at Knights Ferry to the  Golden Gate Bridge right down to your mundane Caltrans bridge across a typical creek.

And nature - even in its simplest form - is art.

“Levitated Mass” is no different than  going to Silverado Landscaping & Garden Center in Ripon and contemplating spending several hundred dollars on a massive yet interesting slab of rock or boulder to make it the cornerstone of one’s yard.

Even so, the hoopla around the rock and the fact millions will end up gawking at it in a museum setting points to one thing: People in Los Angeles really have to get out of the city more often. There’s a whole world of rock stars out there that don’t smash guitars, get in trouble with the law, and stand the test of time.

This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at or 209-249-3519.