LACMA's rock caravan carefully winds its way through Long Beach
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art's shrink-wrapped monolith is about three-quarters of the way into its journey from the remote Riverside County quarry from which it was blasted to the mid-Wilshire museum where it will be the centerpiece of the artwork "Levitated Mass."
On its eighth night of traveling, the caravan faced its most challenging trip yet. The route along Atlantic Avenue, Ocean Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway was the most densely populated stretch of the trip so far, said workers with Emmert International, the company handling the move.
Following a festive afternoon block party in the Bixby Knolls arts district, the $10-million caravan hit the road at exactly 10 p.m., but soon came to a standstill due to an overlooked utility pole on Atlantic that was in the way and needed to be removed.
More than 100 people -– truckers, museum workers, police escorts among them -- milled about in the icy night air, most wearing fluorescent vests, as the long line of trucks, their engines rumbling, waited and onlookers snapped pictures. After a delay or more than 40 minutes, the caravan set into motion.
Until it slowed down again.
The difficult maneuver delayed the rock caravan about an hour and a half. "It was tight. We had very little room to wiggle," said logistical supervisor Rick Albrecht.
Overall, the transporter traversed six bridges along its route of just under 12 miles on Wednesday night and early Thursday morning. Along the way, it took out two palm trees, "but we’ll replace them," Emmert said.
At about 5 a.m., the rock was parked for the day about 2.5 miles shy of its intended destination. It will sit on Thursday in the middle of Avalon Boulevard at Pacific Street in Carson.
The rock is set to arrive in the wee hours of Saturday morning on the grounds of LACMA, where it will be installed as the focal point of artist Michael Heizer's sculpture.
Despite Wednesday night's challenges, Emmert's team maintained a sense of levity.
"There's something very gratifying about moving large objects from one place to another," he said. "And every trip is different."
-- Deborah Vankin
Photo: A workman checks on the LACMA rock in the 3600 block of Atlantic Avenue in Long Beach, where it paused on its journey from a Riverside quarry to the museum. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times