Sitting at The Federal Bar, gazing across the street, you might think you are in Vegas or had one too many. But on closer look you will notice the scrolling, flashing, rotating sign quotes on the NoHo Commons building. After years of being turned off, the flashing North Hollywood sign is finally back on, a feat for public art supporters.
Accurately titled, Drive By, this North Hollywood public art piece is actually a large, interactive LED panel that’s attached to the façade of the building. The 240-foot-long by 6-feet-high electronic display is activated by street traffic and displays well-known film quotes such as “I’ll be back,” “say hello to my little friend,” “if you build it they will come” and many more. Drive By is visible even during the day. But at night it is backlit by colored lights that also change with movement.
Created in 2007 by Electroland as a part of the City’s North Hollywood public art program, Drive By was shut down shortly after installation. Yes, this public art piece was unplugged because it was classified as advertising by the Department of Building & Safety. It took more than three years to get this piece back up and running because of wording in a City ordinance that was created to combat rampant, displaced and unwanted signage. This ordinance was not created to deprive the North Hollywood neighborhood of public art but that’s what it has done and will continue to do unless changed.
We are advocates of public art creation and preservation and applaud those who worked with the City to “allow” Drive By to remain. However, there are other artworks here in North Hollywood that may not have that same good fortune. We have written articles and displayed visitor-created videos on the fate of a small, neighborhood public art project – Barbara Black’s North Hollywood Graffiti Art Mural. This large, City sponsored artwork gets to be turned back on but Barbara Black’s alley mural can’t be left up on her private property?
To see NoHo’s old but new public art project, just head over to 5300 Lankershim Blvd. across the street from El Portal Theatre and The Federal Bar.