Artist: Ralph Acosta
Exhibition: RELAX: Reimagining Los Angeles International Airport
Media: Video, Photography, Projection, Decal.
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Marylin Werby Gallery
Website: In Progress
This week was incredibly wonderful in regards to artist conversations. I had a great time speaking to Ralph Acosta. Ralph Acosta’s thesis project; RELAX: Re-imagining Los Angeles International Airport was just certified this week. He is now a graduate from the 3 year long Master’s Program in Fine Arts from CSULB. Ralph Acosta is a native to Los Angeles whom grew up in Koreatown and has a great passion for the retro and classical Los Angeles architect and vibe.
Ralph Acosta’s main theme of this installation was a reimaging of LAX as to take it back to an appreciation of the retro architecture of Los Angeles. While doing so, he also wanted to re-create a more meaningful experience when visiting the airport. His installation, though confined to a small gallery successfully provided the feel of walking through a life sized airport. Walking through the gallery there are references to buildings, gates, terminals, and pathways all reinvented to create a more calming setting than today’s real life LAX. When first entering the gallery on the West wall there is a video being projected. This video is approximately 55 seconds long and plays in loop. The video is a combination of famous movie scenes and commercials all filmed at the airport, along with own personal home video of airplanes landing and taking off. This video would be played above the TSA station in order to provide entertainment and distraction from stresses happening below. The videos states that every 55 seconds a plane either lands or departs from the airports runway. On the Northern wall there are photographs of the Ralph Acasta’s favorite parts of LAX that include the Theme Building and its very famous retro style brick wall that surrounds its entrance. Ralph also created a grid formed of several rectangles with rounded edges that was inspired from the cement blocks on that wall, airplane window shapes, and even arial views of the airports runways. This grid took him 1 month to create and is the central part for much of the re-imagining work Ralph created. The most important part created from this grid was the font he used for all his signage. He named I “Runway Gothic Medium. He has a large poster on the wall containing the alphabet and numbers in the font as a reference. There is also a decal of “arrivals” and “gates 26-32” in his font at the end of the northern wall. In order to keep things simple yet efficient, ralph used his font letter “b” added two dots as wheels and interpreted it as baggage claim. He thought this to be fun and international since it literally looks like a rolling suitcase of sorts. This symbol is presented on the eastern wall along with digital images of the current united airlines terminal at LAX. Next to it there is a decal representation of the famous elevator walkway in which Ralph would like to add “Terra Firma” to the backdrop of. “Terra Firma” means land in sight and Ralph hopes it would provide a sense of relive to those stressed or fearful flyers. Finally on the south wall there is the “departures” decal and closer to the door there is a flat screen which is playing a video on the plane spotting app that Ralph created for those who love to see planes arrive and depart. The gallery’s walls are white while much of the actual installation has the colors of blue and orange.
A few of us were very lucky to have Ralph Acosta walk with us though the gallery and explain all of his pieces. This was a great treat because as he talked I could see how happy this made him. He is someone who really loves this part of Los Angeles’ history. He spoke about how this was an ode to bring back the romantic side of the airport that has been lost among chaos and rush. He told us that he remembered when he was younger how he and his family would literally dress up and all arrive to the airport to see someone off. He misses the personal aspect of such a place and thinks that his installation would help bring back a piece of cultural tradition that is now put away to chaotic schedules and extreme security measures. Ralph acknowledged that trips to the airport nowadays are mostly curbside farewells, it’s a chaotic “get in/get out” and there is little if any connection. Although he stated that the retro feel to his installation was an accident; he does feel that it gives the airport a more organic feel and hopefully helps people enjoy the scenery a bit more. He choose blue and orange because he thinks it represents California and the ocean and hopes that it gives people a sense of calm. As much as Ralph thinks the airport has become impersonal for many he says that LAX is still his personal favorite because of the retro architecture and the memories it provided for him. He specifically spoke about times that he would go to imperial hwy and watch the planes arrive and depart from the runway on a hilltop. This memory inspired him to create the app featured in his gallery that allows people to be up to date on arrivals and departures of planes. Ralph really loves Los angles and LAX, and the memories it has provided for him. He provided so much detail in his work that I could tell this installation was a pleasure and labor of love to help one of his favorite places become better for other people.
I really enjoyed Ralph Acosta’s installation of Relax: Reimagining Los Angeles International Airport. I got to speak to him one on one and he seems like such a positive, classic, laid back person who enjoys the simpler more personal things. I told him that I too shared in his love for the airport. I know for many the airport brings a headache and chaos but, I enjoy the atmosphere. It is very hard to put into words exactly the emotions I feel with the airport but I know that for me it brings excitement, melancholy, eagerness, safety and adventure. I think it’s an established part of Los Angles and it is wonderful that people from all over the world have walked though those gates and terminals to make memories. For me the airport is a link between generations and cultures. So when I saw his installation I not only felt happy but I felt excited because it is rare to find another airport lover out there. Ralph Acosta’s yearlong hard work and passion defiantly showed in this piece. I’m very happy that his project was approved and he has graduated; I made sure to tell him that as I left, and thanked him for a wonderful reimagined time at one of my favorite places.