The Griffith Park Teahouse, which mysteriously appeared on a peak in Griffith Park in June, surreptitiously installed by a collective of anonymous artists, is set to make its first public appearance today after being removed by the city.
The structure, which captivated Angelenos when it first appeared, will be installed on Knoll Hill in San Pedro, where it will offer views of the Port of Los Angeles. This time, however, the installation is going up with the blessing of the Department of Recreation and Parks and the Department of Cultural Affairs.
For the artists, who recently rained petals on an alley in downtown Los Angeles, doing things on the up-and-up has represented a different way of working.
"There are moments where doing an art installation legitimately has been really amazing," says one of the anonymous artists. "We're seeing all of the resources that the city brought to bear to make this happen. But you also see all the inner workings of the interest groups that have to be placated."
Knowing that the teahouse gets to live on, however, has been worth the bureaucracy for the artists — even if it hasn't been as interesting as figuring out how to build a guerrilla structure in Griffith Park in the middle of the night.
"The question of whether we could pull that off was really fun," says another artist involved.
The teahouse is being installed on Knoll Hill on Monday and will open officially on Saturday. It will remain on view through late March.
From its perch on the knoll, it will overlook the Vincent Thomas Bridge and the cranes of the port, which is the busiest in the Western Hemisphere.
"I think we have always been drawn to these parts of Los Angeles that are so magnificent in scale," says one artist of the location. "It's paying attention to parts of the city that aren't always seen by the rest of the urban community."
"And you have the incongruity of having these trees and these little league fields and this wooden teahouse next to this incredible industrial site," adds another.
The artists have also worked with the parks department to mark the spot where the teahouse once stood in Griffith Park. They have built a simple wooden bench out of redwoods destroyed in the 2007 fire (the same materials used to construct the teahouse). The bench, like the teahouse, offers broad views of Glendale and the San Gabriel Mountains.
It is, reads the placard, "a place for urban reflection."
An opening for the Griffith Park Teahouse will be held on Saturday at 4 p.m., with the support of artists from San Pedro's Machine Community Studios and a sunset concert by the California Feetwarmers. A closing tea ceremony, with a performance by a violinist from the Golden State Pops Orchestra, will be held on March 20 at 4 p.m. Bring your own teacup. Knoll Hill, North Center Street, Los Angeles, @gparkteahouse.