Public Art Revisited: The Pig-Headed Bicycle Rack

the pig rack

I have a thing for pigs. And donkeys, lest we forget (one, two).

Hey man I admit it. Call me a fetishist. I don’t mind. The above bicycle rack is one of ten racks created for the the 1996 joint SCI-Arc and LADOT project titled “The Bike Stops Here.” This particular rack is located outside the Grand Central Market at 3rd and Broadway. It features dual hogsheads which have apparently been cast from a swine purchased at the aforementioned market.

Don’t take my word for it: Ruth Wallach has been documenting public art in Los Angeles for years. From her site, which I have found to be invaluable time and again:

Ten bicycle racks, funded by the Community Redevelopment Agency’s Downtown Cultural Trust Fund, were installed in downtown in 1995 and 1996 as part of “The Bike Stops Here” project. (One placed at the Los Angeles Times Building was subsequently damaged and removed.) Graduate and undergraduate students designed and fabricated these racks in a course at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc). Supported by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, this project was developed as a way of encouraging bicycle riding in downtown by providing security at important public places.

Molina installed his bike rack at a dynamic and historic point near the property line on the sidewalk along Broadway dividing the Grand Central Market from the Million Dollar Theater. Two intersecting arches, capped by a pair of pig heads cast in steel from a head purchased at the Grand Central Market,(1) are embellished with cast fruit. The representation of foods sold in the market transforms the functional bike rack into a symbolic placemaker(2) marking the site’s importance, introducing the market and its surroundings, and capturing the heterogeneous culture of the city.(3)

Close-up photo of the steel-cast pig-headed goodness here.