"Isn't it beautiful?" exclaims a passerby as I stand in the dusty little garden at the entrance to West Hollywood Park. I'm there to see the black, hairy Cousin It-like creatures that local artist Liz Craft has sprinkled about the tiny landscape and I wonder if "beautiful" is quite the right word.
The park, renovated last summer, is lovely, clean and minimalist. But these little guys, some chained together like inmates, seem like a poke in its tasteful eye.
Speaking of eyes, just a few yards away is a tepee-shaped sculpture with two large, staring orbs. One gazes into the park; the other is fixed on the Pacific Design Center across the street.
Tar-black like the hairy figures, the tepee's surface appears to have been cast from a hodgepodge of rough textiles, and a cluster of twigs sprouts from its top. Chthonic and calmly sinister, it stands sentinel against the hyperbolic red, green and blue sleekness across the street.
The works don't seem to have anything to do with tidy, pretty West Hollywood, but they're not all gloom and doom: one "Hairy Guy" suns himself with abandon on the ground, while another does a groovy dance in the corner.
Playful and grotesque, they're like characters from an underground comic that seem to have seeped up through the ground — scions of a repressed chaos that lurks, watchful, just below the manicured surface.
Los Angeles Nomadic Division at West Hollywood Park, 625 N. San Vicente Blvd., West Hollywood, (646) 620-8289, through October. www.nomadicdivision.org