Holistic V

Background Information

1981, Betty Gold. 20'h x 12'w x 16'd. Harbor Freeway/9th Street Offramp
"Holistic V" serves as a gateway to downtown from the 9th Street off-ramp of the southbound Harbor Freeway (110 Freeway). Constructed of corten steel, it is one of a series of large works that evolved from eleven smaller works Gold exhibited at the Bowers Museum in 1977. Before the Bowers Museum show, Gold was asked to name the collection. She found "holistic" in the thesaurus and felt the term expresses her intentions and the design process. This series of sculpture is created by cutting rectangular steel plates into patterns, and then rearranging the patterns into complete works. The patterns can be reassembled back to make the rectangles whole again.

Composed of six pieces, "Holistic V" is one of Gold's first monumental sized works. (The first large holistic piece was installed at the Oakland Museum in 1979.) Caltrans encouraged placing art along freeways but had no money to purchase or commission it. After obtaining funds for the installation from Sidney Felman and Earl Latterman of Tygart Industries, Gold prepared a maquette which Caltrans approved. She then made patterns scaled 1" to 1' for fabrication by the Tygart Steel Company facility in Alhambra. Full size plastic patterns were then made to cut the steel. The $30,000 work was assembled at the factory, and delivered one piece at a time to the site. Gold did not paint the eight ton work because she wanted it to develop a natural patina. Gold looked at four sites offered by Caltrans and selected the 9th Street offramp because it was an unexpected setting for public art.

Various City departments gave approval for the site. They required the sculpture not interfere with water sprinklers and placed at least 20 feet from any roadway in case it toppled over from an earthquake. Gold bolted the sculpture into cement and nestled it within eucalyptus trees to make it look natural.(1)


1 Interview of Betty Gold by Michael Several, October 24, 1985.

The text has been provided courtesy of Michael Several, Los Angeles, December 1999.

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