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Behind the Exhibit: Signs of Life

A retro vinyl art installation in L.A. inspired by the culture of rock n’ roll and SoCal lifestyle

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The visual culture of rock and roll, the quintessential SoCal lifestyle and the iconic ’60s music scene was artistically cultivated by various influencers. One in particular is John Van Hamersveld, the influential artist who created the legendary concert poster of Jimi Hendrix at L.A.’s Shrine Auditorium, the surf movie poster for Endless Summer as well as the 1984 Olympic mural at the L.A. Coliseum. Hamersveld’s career includes having created artwork for Capitol Records, Buzz Magazine, Fat Burger and Kate Mantilini. 

Hamersveld’s newest exhibit is Signs of Life and will be on display and open to the public for six weeks from February 10 through March 31. The exhibit will span across two of Brookfield’s Downtown L.A. properties: FIGat7th and Bank of America Plaza on Bunker Hill, where the L.A. Chamber Orchestra will play music by the composers Van Hamersveld will portray on the Bank of America building alongside the Farmer’s Market on Fridays during the run of this show.

John Van Hamersveld

Hamersveld custom created four symbols to represent the Summer of ’69: a flower, symbolizing growth; a peace sign, instilling safety within; a heart, representing love; and a globe for balance. “I feel these emblems truly symbolize the greatest years of past and present and bring a fresh, modern approach to these events,” Hamersveld described his inspiration for selecting the four specific symbols used in Signs of Life. “The four symbols were conceived in 1997, at a time where I felt I wanted to create symbolic originals I could own as an eco-kind of idea. The application of those symbols came later when I developed the Viva Vision Light Show. That artful process of creating a moving digital collage of vernacular from my archive of icons and symbols was a fantastic experience and the precursor to this installation.”

The artist recalls the momentous era when the SoCal lifestyle was born saying, “Hollywood and Sunset Boulevard in the ’70s became a global phenomena of creative visual imagery. When vinyl went to CDs, my work changed. I realized my work was a part of the music culture – as an album cover or campaign. The portfolio of work became 300 album covers in different collaborations with eight different labels. Here I was in Hollywood on the Sunset Strip of popular culture.”

The exhibit will include several large-scale works, each one created with bold lines, striking colors and a unique relationship between negative and positive space. Hamersveld describes his favorite aspect of his exhibit saying, “The elevator banks at FIGat7th are like a monolith mural wrapped around the elevators. The design looks like a package that will contrast with the downtown skyline that is behind it.”

Elevator banks at FIGat7th

Karen Kitchen, Art Brookfield’s Senior Producing Director described her favorite aspect as well saying, “As presenters, we were drawn to Van Hamersveld’s signature use of bold colors, embellished design, and the visual energy of his aesthetic and subject matter, which is the perfect complement to Brookfield’s beautifully designed spaces in Downtown Los Angeles.”

Signs of Life will be open to the public until March 30, 2017.

735 South Figueroa, Los Angeles
Bank of America Plaza
333 South Hope Street, Los Angeles

All Images: Courtesy The Artist (John Van Hamersveld) and Arts Brookfield, 2017