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Cal Poly Pomona Exhibit “Positively 4th Street” Invites Contemplation of Diverse Architectural

Cal Poly Pomona - Wilson, The Approach

Above Photo: Richard Willson, The Approach, 2017, oil on canvas, 24 x 48”.

Pomona, CA – The exhibit “Positively 4th Street: An Encounter with Los Angeles’ Fourth Street Viaduct” is an exploration of the reactions of three artists to this multifaceted location. The show is on view through April 12 in the Cal Poly Pomona Don B. Huntley Gallery (University Library, room 4435).

Built in 1931, the 4th Street Viaduct spans the Los Angeles River, supporting railroad tracks and industry. Its Gothic Revival architecture contrasts with the unadorned flood-control channel beneath it.

As Angelenos debate river revitalization and nearby gentrification, painter Roderick Smith, writer and essayist DJ Waldie and urban planner and painter Richard Willson, who is a professor of urban and regional planning at Cal Poly Pomona, share their interpretations of this unique site offering a mashup of functionality and architectural styles.

“The viaduct revealed its iconic symbols and meanings as we explored,” say the artists. “Our first impression was of industrial infrastructure ­– trains, trucks, power lines, planes making turns to LAX – but most importantly, the concrete channel of the river. We observed the contrasts of sun and shadow, the flow of water against hard cement and soft black tar around the tracks. Over time we noticed that this apparently hostile environment is home to people, micro-organisms and determined flora.”

“The viaduct entered into our imaginations and changed us. We began our exploration wrestling with sensory elements such as glaring reflections, heat, noise, odors and congestion. We were ready to struggle with the place as artists, but our affection grew with repeated visits. The viaduct spoke to us, softened us.”

The show’s opening was listed on KCRW’s top five design and architecture things to do the week of Jan. 22.

For more information on the exhibit or the gallery, visit

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