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18-foot fork in the road, erected as a birthday prank, might become art in Pasadena

IMG_7135 by wakitu.

Pasadena has a literal fork in the road.

Where South St. John and Pasadena Avenues divide, there’s an 18-foot wooden fork in the median.

The art was originally intended as a birthday joke for Bob Stane, who celebrated his 75th birthday Oct. 29, but the city and Caltrans, which owns the median, are in talks to keep it temporarily.

“He was hysterical. He loved it,” said Stane's wife, Beverly, of Altadena.

Stane first playfully suggested that the location might be appropriate for a fork monument about 10 years ago in conversation with a friend, Ken Marshall, Beverly said. Marshall had the idea brewing ever since.

“Bob had no idea it was coming,” she said.

The art, which has been on display since Oct. 31, may become a temporary guerrilla art installation, said Ann Erdman, the spokeswoman for the city. 

Though there are many “ifs” associated with the project, there’s been a lot of enthusiasm in the community for the art, she said.

IMG_7139 by wakitu.

Before the fork can stay in the road, there must be a safety inspection to ensure that the fork is properly engineered. Marshall, who carved and built the fork, would have to pay the costs of the inspection, so taxpayers don’t have to underwrite the cost.

Once the temporary extension has run out, Marshall could go through a process with Caltrans art staff and the Pasadena Arts Commission to keep the fork in place.

[Clarification: An early version of this post reported that the fork was 12-feet-tall]

-- Nicole Santa Cruz

Photos: Wakitu via Flickr

Comments () | Archives (24)

Looking forward to the hairpin turn...

It is Bob Stane or Bob Staten?

I LOVE this!!! An instant classic!! I think I'll go this weekend to take a gander.

Somehow I know that Art Fern is smiling from heaven.

Forking fantastic. I love it.

Love Love Love it!!!!

I'd love to kick in a few bucks towards the assessment fee...

I love it! Reminds me of Van Bruggen's Spoon and Cherry in Minneapolis, which is one of my favorite pieces of outdoor art ever.

We can always use more whimsy in public art. Anything that'll make us smile is welcome, welcome, welcome.

And I know Johnny Carson must be smiling from heaven! His Art Fern character used a fork as a reference when he would say "Drive until you get to... (a map is unfolded to reveal a table fork) the fork in the road!"

Sorry, but it ain't truly a fork in the road as, heading north, for example, one cannot bear left.


Funny line, I hadn't even thought of that! It took a dull and pointless incident, reported in a dull and pointless story, and made it funny.

First useful thing Caltrans has done in that area in 50 years!

I love the fork, I hope it becomes permanent. In these rough times, lightheartedness and wit are so badly needed.

Didn't the Muppets already do this in the Muppet Movie?

Interesting how well the public responded to the obvious whimsy here - a lesson to Peter Shelton (who designed the awful, pig-like blobs obscuring the new LAPD headquarters.)

RP: For cars, it might not be a fork in the road. But don't forget pedestrians, for whom it truly is a fork in the road.

JewelD: Hey! Don't diss the LAPD art. At least it's interesting enough for you to mention it here.

The art is cool, but this isn't what people mean by a fork in the road. Traffic on either side of the road's fork is going in opposite ways. There's no option to turn.

But it needs to be firmly attached to the ground

"If you see a fork in the road, take it"

I am a fan of all kinds of art, that said, I commute by this daily and find it to be not quite befitting of it's environment, foremost being the historical look and nature of the surrounding architecture. It's sticks out like a sore thumb... oops, i probably shouldn't put that out there, perhaps that could be next.

Whoever is responsible for the "fork" in the median should be issued a summons...it's a visual obstruction for drivers, as if California drivers needed one more thing to distract them from the road...you people at Caltrans are such morons...California is so yesterday...

I grew up in Pasadena in the fifties, and I can assure younger readers that there was nothing in Pasadena then that was nearly this witty. Let this one stay in place until it's suitably weathered, then replace it with a durable copy--with the original going to a good (public) home.

Every year in Perth, Western Australia, there is an outdoor exhibition at one of our beautiful local beaches. This year, there was a enormous pencil upright in the sand. The name of the installation? A line in the sand... I love it!

Yes, "might" if "art" is again redefined by wako nut job "artists & pc city council members


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