Levi’s, artist Doug Aitken partner on major public art initiative

Los Angeles Times Fashion Critic

Contemporary art is going on tour, coming to a city near you.

Proving that fashion and art remain the coziest of bedfellows, the Levi’s brand is partnering with multimedia artist Doug Aitken on “Station to Station: A Nomadic Happening,” a new public art project kicking off in New York City on Sept. 6 that will raise funds through ticket sales and donations to support museums around the country.

Aitken is designing a train (and cool-looking kinetic sculpture, see rendering above) that will travel from New York to San Francisco, over the course of three weeks in September. The train will make 10 stops along the way for “site-specific happenings” that bring together figures from the art, music, food, literary and film worlds in what could very well be Coachella-type cultural mash-ups, only with a philanthropic bent.

The event rolls into Los Angeles on Sept. 26. Other cities on the whistlestop tour include Kansas City, Santa Fe and Winslow, Ariz.


There’s an impressive roster of creatives scheduled to participate along the way, including Kenneth Anger, Urs Fischer (whose work is currently on view at MOCA), Olaf Breuning, Peter Coffin, Meschac Gaba, Liz Glynn, Carsten Höller, Christian Jankowski, Aaron Koblin, Ernesto Neto, Jack Pierson, Stephen Shore, Rirkrit Tiravanija and Lawrence Weiner.

Musicians Ariel Pink, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Dan Deacon, David Longstreth of Dirty Projectors, Eleanor Friedberger, Nite Jewel, No Age, Savages, and Twin Shadow are also on list, as are writers Dave Hickey, Barney Hoskyns and Rick Moody, and chefs Alice Waters and Leif Hedendal, and the Edible Schoolyard Project.

With arts funding in short supply, Station to Station hopes to create a new endowment model, according to press materials, by raising funds through ticket sales and donations to distribute to partner institutions (which include the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art).

Aitken, who works between Venice, Calif., and New York, seems jazzed about the project. “This is a fast-moving cultural journey, a constant search over the new horizons of our changing culture. Grounded in some basic questions — Who are we? Where are we going? And, at this moment, how can we express ourselves? — our intention is to create a modern cultural manifesto,” he said in a statement. “For a short time, the most interesting place in the country will be a moving target.”

And of course, Levi’s is thrilled to have its name associated with so many tastemakers.

“From our iconic 501 jeans to our trucker jacket and western shirts, the Levi’s brand equips pioneers for their exploration of the modern frontier,” said Len Peltier, global creative director of the Levi’s brand. “Station to Station provides an incredible platform for pioneers around the world to explore and empowers them to discover, connect, share, innovate and ultimately collaborate.”

For more information on the project, go to



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