LACMA's 340-Ton Rock Rolls Through Diamond Bar

The boulder made its way from Diamond Bar to Rowland Heights Friday night, early Saturday morning.

The bulbous, bleached white boulder sat inert on Chino Avenue Friday as the light of the day faded. Tethered in between two thick red pillars, the rock, two stories tall, towered over the cars slowly filing past. Mere feet away, some drivers paused for a moment to take in the sheer size of the spectacle.

At about 10 p.m., the five semi-trucks ferrying the megalith shuddered to life. With a few honks that sent up a cheer from the dozens of onlookers on the other side of the street, the convoy inched forward, carefully conveying the 340-ton granite behemoth toward its ultimate destination, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

"Levitated Mass," as as the art piece has been dubbed by its creator, Michael Heizer, was on the move again.

The boulder had been parked on the westbound side of Chino Ave. before the 71 Freeway, two-miles short of its original destination, since 7:45 a.m. on Friday. 

It was estimated that it would take until about 5 a.m. the next morning to reach its fourth pitstop, Pathfinder Community Park in Rowland Heights. The stop is part of an 11-day journey from a Riverside County quarry, where the rock was excavated, to the LACMA campus.

Once it reaches the museum, the work of art will be completed by placing the hunk of granite on a 456-foot long slot under which patrons can walk and observe the rock.

Because of the size of the boulder and the complexity of moving such a large object, the convoy can only move forward at about five miles per hour, so residents will have plenty of time to catch a glimpse. The convoy will also stay parked in Rowland Heights over the weekend.

Scott Tennent, a LACMA spokesman who was on hand to answer questions from curious onlookers, said planning the route for the boulder took about nine months of work. Planners from Emmert International, an Oregon-based freighting company, not only had to plan a route that would avoid bridges, steep inclines and bridges with low weight limits, but also had to secure permits from the 22 different cities the rock would pass through on the way.

Tennent noted that with so much news coverage of the rock's journey, most of those people who had gathered already had some knowledge of the artwork, so many of the questions he fielded were about the truck itself and the logistics of the move.

"People have been overwhelmingly enthusiastic about both the artwork and the transport…everybody has been really positive about it," he said.

One of the most dedicated onlookers, Tom Burge, 63, said he had been following the rock for its entire journey up to this point, taking video footage of the boulder's exodus.

Throughout his time following LACMA's prize, Burge said he had seen a marriage proposal next to the object and had coincidentally met a fellow Navy sailor who had served on a boat in the same flotilla as him during the Vietnam War.

With events like these inciting the idea, Burge has become convinced of the rock's magical powers; he said he'd recently bought about a dozen lottery tickets and passed them out amongst his friends.

"I wanted to go rub [the tickets] over the rock, but they wouldn't let me get that close. I figure just being this close to it though, some of its magic properties have got to rub off on them," he said.

Burge said he was going to put all the footage he's taken of the rock's journey and turn it into a documentary.

The crew had to shut down Chino Ave. to one lane just after its intersection with the northbound onramp of the 71 Freeway to accommodate for the width of the massive freighter transporting the rock.

By 8:30 p.m., trucks and construction equipment with flashing lights crowded the length of the street, slowing the traffic to just a trickle. From the other side, a few curious sightseers milled about on the sidewalk. Others, arms stretched out with camera phones in their hands, climbed on top of their cars in the adjacent parking to get a better view.

Tennet said "Levitated Mass" has been one of his strangest and most fulfilling projects at LACMA.

"It's been one of the most exhilarating projects I've worked on at LACMA," he said. "There's just something about the nature of the project - moving this huge object across counties and through communities, where people get to come and see it on their own - that's very exciting. It's very, very unique."

OBSART | Observatoire du Land Art March 03, 2012 at 08:52 PM
Thanks for the video. If you want to learn more about Levitated Mass, please visit: www.landart.fr
Gary Fishell March 03, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Gary Fishell March 03, 2012 at 09:02 PM
MEZRMOM March 05, 2012 at 04:37 PM
What a wonderful opportunity to see this marvelous feat up close and personal in our own neighborhood. Too bad there was minimal media coverage and minimal interest by the locals. Teri Felker
Gary Fishell March 05, 2012 at 04:57 PM
The rock was not bleached white, it has a plastic wrap around it to keep people from trying to "tag" it. This is Los Angeles we're talking about after all. Sad.


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