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Eagle Rock's latest art installation

All photos by Marc Campos

On the weekend of January 28th, there was an unusual sight on the corner of La Roda and Yosemite, in front of our school. This intersection was blocked off by barricades, preventing any traffic from passing by. Protected from these barricades was a group of people holding rollers and paint brushes, vigorously painting away under the scorching rays of the sun. Splatters of yellow, orange, and teal paint coated their fingers and the hems of their pants. As the sun rose high in the sky, the group concluded their project and stepped back to admire it. Before them was a masterpiece, a mural painted on the bland asphalt. Teal paint covered the street with the silhouette of an eagle soaring through the blue like it was the summer sky. Painted around it were vibrant poppies painted in a cubic fashion. Orange and black decorated the bike path like the stripes of a tiger while black paw-prints stood out on top of its orange glow. This is the colorful art installation on the dangerous intersection many use on their daily commute to school. 

Though it may be aesthetically appealing to the surrounding neighborhood, this mural, which spans 4,000 feet, is also present to aid in creating a safer area. During the morning and afternoon hours, this intersection has been known to see high numbers of people speeding, running red lights, and being unnecessarily dangerous as they rush to their destinations. Since it is by a school where many kids, who are sometimes careless themselves, cross the street going to and from school, this can be deadly. To prevent any future casualties, a group of volunteers from Occidental College, Oxy Arts, La Department of Transportation, LA Parks and Recreation, and the Bloomberg Associate came up with a brilliant idea. Even students and staff from Eagle Rock High School, plus artist Andrew Armstrong, joined in on the effort. Subsequently, Boesche Way was born.

Frankie Fleming, a staff member at Occidental College, says that the experience of creating this piece of art was extraordinary. “The process of bringing this project to life was very collaborative and community-driven.” She remarks that seeing groups of volunteers from around the community, who would rarely come in contact otherwise together brought a sense of wholeness. 

Some may wonder how adding artwork to busy intersections can help to improve the safety of both pedestrians and drivers. Research involving asphalt projects in various locations around the U.S. has shown that there are notable increases in safety conditions. They have noticed a 50% drop in the rate of traffic crashes involving pedestrians or cyclists as well as a 27% increase in the rate of drivers yielding to pedestrians with the right-of-way. The bright colors of the art attract the drivers' attention, making them more likely to pause and allow them to cross. Though there are many dangerous intersections in the Los Angeles area, Yosemite Drive was chosen based on the results of a community survey. Out of 220 respondents, who live in the vicinity of or use the street, 45% felt unsafe crossing Yosemite Drive near La Roda Street due to speeding drivers (66% of the people surveyed) and drivers unwilling to yield to pedestrians (60% of the people surveyed). When asked what the best solution to this problem was, many people suggested either slower traffic speeds or art on the road. 

This mural doesn’t just look stunning though, it also has a fascinating history. Officially dubbed “Boeche Way”, the mural was named in honor of Occidental Professor Roger Boesche who inspired countless generations of Oxy students, including former President Barack Obama. He was greatly mourned after passing away at the age of 69 in 2017. As a way to further commemorate him for all the lives he has touched, Boeche Way was created.

Though, like all good things, this mural will eventually succumb to the winds of time. Its vibrant colors will fade to duller shades of themselves, and it will only be a mere fraction of what it once was. So what is the future for these asphalt art murals? Hopefully, we will continue to see these colorful installations popping up around the city, adding a splash of color to our daily commutes and smiles to our faces.

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