There is a tension between the two hallmarks of "The American Way" - democracy and capitalism. The ongoing feud between the non-profit world of the arts and the for-profit world of advertising can be seen in the battle over billboards in Los Angeles and other places in the country.
In Los Angeles the argument isn't so much about the supergraphics that coat historic buildings (Christo sculptures have done the same) or what are described as "garish digital screens that cast a sickly glow over once-dark neighborhoods", but about the messages that are on the billboards. The billboards themselves are evidently not the problem. Lighted billboards aren't ugly if what is on them is Art rather than advertising.
21 billboards in Los Angeles will have their advertising messages replaced by art, covering a wide area from Beverly Hills to MacArthur Park, Sunset Boulevard to the 10 freeway, and almost every major thoroughfare in between with large-scale urban installations by artists like Kerry Tribe, Kenneth Anger (right), David Lamelas and Yvonne Rainer (left). .
The Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight is a non-profit organization representing groups and individuals committed to defending the urban landscape of Los Angeles against billboards and other forms of outdoor advertising in public spaces. They argue that the visual landscape of the city belongs to everyone (Democracy), not just the advertising companies who present commercial messages (Capitalism).
Click on the heading above to go to the Ban Billboard Blight website.