Meet street artist Scott Froschauer. He is the sculptor behind the “Relax Ur OK” and “One Love” neon sign artworks currently on exhibit at the median located at the intersection of Santa Monica Boulevard Halloway Drive in West Hollywood.
The neon art is the most recent West Hollywood art installation on Route 66. They were installed on Thursday, October 15, 2020 and will be on display in the City of West Hollywood from October 2020, to June 2022. The run could be extended for a longer period of time.
Curated by long-time West Hollywood resident, Valda Lake, the owner of Wallspace gallery, the brightly lit street art replaces the traditionally negative and coercive language normally found in street signs and replaces them with positive and inspirational messages.
We met with artist Scott Froschauer the day after the art pieces were installed. An interview on the spot reveals his process, his reaction to seeing work light up on Santa Monica Boulevard first time and why he doesn’t attach his name to the art installations he has on display all over the world.
What do you think of the finished product?
They’re amazing. If you looked at my computer mockups for the proposal. They’re exactly what I imagined they were going to look like. They’re beautiful.
How long it did it take from the moment you took out the hammer and to what we standing today?
The actual building of it was quick. It was just a couple of weeks. The proposal process was over a year ago. Going in front of the West Hollywood City Council and competing against a bunch of other proposals, that started in August of last year, so over a year, 13, 14 months. I proposed these pieces with my gallerist, Valda Lake. She has a gallery called Walls Space, she’s a West Hollywood resident. We took this proposal about taking my street signs and turning them into neon art.
How many pieces did you propose?
We proposed a couple of different ones. The ONE LOVE with the rainbow, to me is just West Hollywood. It’s just perfect.
So why base your art on street signs?
There’s a whole logic behind it. Street signs are generally negative. No left turn. Wrong way. Do not enter. You know, all this negativity. They work on a subconscious level. You see an octagon and I don’t have to tell you what it means. You’re foot goes to the brake pedal. It’s deep. There are these hooks from street signs that are really deep in your brain. They are deep with all this negativity and coercion. My whole concept is, what happens if I hook into those mechanisms that go into the subconscious and replace it with positive constructive language. Things like Relax, Ur Ok. It’s taking the same tools that dive into the subconscious, but instead of a payload of negativity and coercion, I use a payload of constructiveness and empathy and things like that.
Why is your installation temporary and not permanent?
It’s an interesting thing about public art. To make it a permanent installation requires a whole different set of paperwork. If you say it’s a temporary installation, you can get away with a lot more. It’s possible that after two years, they can just renew it, which I think they’ve done with several of the other pieces along here. I don’t know if you know the cacti art that’s from my friend James [Peterson]. James was on a one year and they renewed it and they renewed it again and now they’re starting to deteriorate and they are doing repairs. It happens a lot with public art. You get a contract for one or two years and you keep renewing it. He never expected it to be around for three years and now he’s going around replacing pieces.
Is the City of West Hollywood your first big contract?
No. I have these are all over the world. I’ve been doing these for years. My first big contract was with the city of Glendale. I have twenty up in Glendale in parks. That contract was 2016.
Is this the first time you add neon to your art?
That’s correct. It’s the first time I worked with neon.
What was that process like?
Neon is kind of a new world for me. I don’t know how to bend neon. It’s not my skill at all. This was all contracted out. There is a tricky element to it all. I oversaw my design. I oversaw all the elements of how it was going to be, but I didn’t touch any of the glass. I didn’t paint any of it. It’s a funny thing because there’s a little bit of imposter syndrome that comes with that. Yesterday I installed three pieces at Dick Van Dykes house. He’s a good friend of mine. He wanted some signs for the election. I installed those pieces. I put my back into it doing all that work. And meanwhile the city installed these, so taking ownership of it is really complex. It’s obviously my work, but I’m used to getting my hands dirty. I want to tighten those. I offered to come and help install them and they said, no, no, no we have insurance on us and whatever and you can’t touch anything. I wanted to tighten bolts and fix things.
The neon is very bright.
I think it’s great. It’s very Instagram friendly.
Is neon going to be your thing now?
It’s pretty freakin’ cool. One of the thing we’re doing is we’re fabricating them in a smaller scale in neon to go in like bars. I’m pitching neon to Palm Springs. I have a lot of works in Palm Springs. Now I have this to show them. Getting the first one is very tricky.
I don’t see your name on these pieces, is that intentional?
It’s an interesting thing. I’m a street artist and as street artists, you don’t put your name. There is something about somebody discovering a piece of artwork that doesn’t have a plaque. It’s about that pure interaction that they have. I love that. I love not having my name on it. But it also means that I don’t know a lot of people who discover it. These are blank. There is no plaque. Nobody knows that it’s me. I start following all of these hashtags and I try to think about what people are going to tag.
What are some hashtag you want people to use when they share their photos?
I use a series of hashtags: #streetsighstreetart is one that covers all my signs. We’ve been doing #oneloveneon #oneloveweho #urokneon #urokweho.
What’s it like seeing them lit for the first time on Santa Monica Boulevard?
It’s tough. It’s a little overwhelming. It’s all of a sudden. It’s going to be about people engaging with it. It’s not so much about how much I connect with it. It’s about how much people connect with it. That’s the whole thing. As this goes on and I start seeing people posting it on Instagram. That’s when I know they’re successful. I think they’re beautiful. I’m also coming from, you know, me. When I put work out into the world, that’s all I know. When people really connect with it, I’m like ‘that’s a successful piece.’ I think they have the possibility of being really successful. I believe they do. We’ll see what happens with it.
To learn more about artist Scott Froschauer, visit his website at: http://scottfroschauer.com/