Billboards get all sorts of (justified) flak for polluting our mind-scapes. They are everywhere, flaunting famous people — in expensive clothes, drinking sexy beer, promising us recession-busting discounts. Unfortunately, billboards are also responsible for a more tangible type of pollution. At the end of an advertising campaign, billboard workers roll up the heavy-grade vinyl and toss it in the dumpster. When Peter Schulberg experienced this waste firsthand, he immediately took steps to remedy it by inviting artists to use the discarded vinyl as a canvas for their work, which he would then display on the exterior walls of his gallery in Los Angeles.
What began three years ago as artwork displayed on the front of the Eco-Logical ART gallery has slowly evolved into a citywide public art exhibition with the generous donation of display time from communication companies such as Van Wagner, CBS Outdoors, and Clear Channel. With transformed billboards in both Los Angeles and San Francisco, ECO-LA has received an equivalent of $400,000 of donated billboard time and successfully diverted several tons of vinyl from the landfill while creating artwork for public viewing all over the two cities.
Coming up this June 13, ECO-LA will unveil a new billboard atop its gallery to kick-off its first “Second Saturday” — an event to take place every month that will include exhibition viewings, workshops for kids, tree give-aways, eco-vendors, and more. Within the first hour of this new billboard’s display time, it will be seen by more Los Angeles inhabitants than visit the city’s museums in a month. It’s a very simple turning around of the ad system. A recognition of privately-held public space. A chance for artists to be seen by a wide audience. A regulated form of ad-busting. And a nice break from beer-promising famous faces.