Venice Beach artist, Joel Shields, is creating a new form of guerrilla art using colorful yarn and city landscapes as a deconstructed canvas. He brought his latest rogue creation to the city of West Hollywood recently where he wraps the yarn around two trees to create rays of color suspended in air. The latest installation is currently still visible in front of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station, on the corner of Santa Monica and San Vicente Boulevard (as of the posting of this piece).
Shields does not yet have a name for his art form. “I don’t know what to call it,” he said. “It’s not tree wrapping where you knit a sock monkey and wrap around a tree. It’s more of a deconstructed crochet technique that allows an open space to become a canvas. It’s better to have it at a park.”
The yarn art debuted by the Venice Boardwak and at Abbot Kinney. before popping up at the West Hollywood Park on Monday June 27, 2022. He used the colors of the rainbow for two creations on the park walkway next to the big dog park and the small dog park. It was a nod to Pride Month. He says he didn’t ask permission from the city, but the yarn survived the elements and the people before finally being taken down about fours day later.
His art installation in front of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s station was completed this past Thursday night. It took him roughly three hours to finish. “I had taken a 6-hour nap, so I was a wide awake when I made my way to West Hollywood,” he said. “I wanted to create something and thought, ‘why not do it front of the Sheriff’s station?’ I know the city just defunded the Sheriffs in West Hollywood, but I’m not making a statement about that. I just wanted to see what it looked like against the sign.”
He said park security and Sheriff deputies saw him wrapping yarn around the trees and let him be–however, he did hear from someone from the WeHo Arts department via Instagram who encouraged him to do things legally and apply for an artist grant with the city of West Hollywood. A grant would not only give him permission to create in the city of West Hollywood, but it would also give him other resources to installs something special.
“The fact that the one I put up at the West Hollywood Sheriff’s is still standing six days later is a true testament to the good people in the city of West Hollywood,” he said. “People have not destroyed it, or taken it down, which is amazing to me. It’s very telling of the citizenry of West Hollywood where you have thousands of people come to the area during a busy 4th of July weekend, but they still respect the work regardless if they are drunk or homeless. They know this doesn’t come from some fancy art gallery on Melrose Avenue. It is guerrilla art style and people really appreciate it.”
People do seem to appreciate it. Community members stop to look at the artwork and then inevitably pull out their cell phones to take pictures.
Joel Shield has art all over the Venice Boardwalk near his home. He uses bright colors of the rainbow, Barbie dolls, flags, umbrellas, chairs and whatever the city elements throw his way.
Follow him on Instagram at @veniceamplified.