LA museum to unveil artist's big rock work in June

May 22, 2012 - 5:16 PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A rockin' good time is planned next month when the Los Angeles County Museum of Art pulls the covers off artist Michael Heizer's latest creation — a 340-ton boulder positioned to appear as though it's floating in mid-air.

The gigantic work titled "Levitated Mass" will be unveiled June 24 and is intended to remain forever.

Its centerpiece is the two-story-tall chunk of granite that was hauled 105 miles from a Riverside rock quarry earlier this year. Since then, the rock has been carefully positioned above a 465-foot-long trench that museum visitors can stroll.

From the trench, the rock should appear to be hovering above them.

"We live in a world that's technological and primordial simultaneously," Heizer said in a statement released Tuesday by the museum. "I guess the idea is to make art that reflects this premise."

The 67-year-old artist rarely appears in public, and museum officials didn't say if he plans to attend the unveiling. He has been quietly overseeing the big rock's installation over the trench and gave architect Frank Gehry a tour of the site.

On the day of the unveiling, the museum is also opening "Michael Heizer: Actual Size," an exhibition of more than a dozen gigantic photographs showing other works by the artist.

Heizer may be best known for "Double Negative," a 1,500-foot-long land sculpture cut into a desert mesa in southern Nevada.

For much of the past 40 years, he has been working on "City," a project of Mount Rushmore-sized proportions in central Nevada.

He is adamant that no one see "City" until it is complete, but aerial photos show a number of pyramid-like buildings, some as high as 80 feet, stretching across more than a mile of desert.

Heizer has planned for more than 40 years to create "Levitated Mass," but had to locate the perfect rock. He finally found one in a quarry on the outskirts of Riverside about seven years ago.

It took dozens of people and a specially built trailer to haul it over the surface streets of 22 cities.

The trip lasted nearly two weeks, with the rock traveling only at night and rarely faster than 5 mph. Thousands of people turned out to cheer it on.

To thank those who put up with road closures and other delays, the museum is granting free admission for a week to people who live in zip code areas traversed by the rock.