Artist Fiona Connor recreates the well-worn sidewalks of LA

In a place as car-centric as Los Angeles, the 9,000+ miles of sidewalks that stretch through the city are often overlooked and underestimated. Over the past decade, the city has launched several initiatives, from Vision Zero to Great Streets, to make Los Angeles more car-free and pedestrian-friendly. But despite the provision of essential urban infrastructure, this is the case estimated that nearly half of the city’s sidewalks are in need of repair.

A Exam 2021 The city manager found that Los Angeles was failing in its efforts to repair sidewalks under its own “repair and release” policy and returned them to the property owners after the repairs were completed. At this point, less than 1% of the city’s sidewalk parcels had been certified as repaired and released. The audit also found that at this rate, it would take 500 years for all of LA’s sidewalks to be certified.

While the cracks and crevices in the city’s sidewalks may tell the story of a failed local government, they serve as the inspiration for artist Fiona Connor’s latest project, Continuous Sidewalk, which is on view now Shatto Castle. Connor meticulously recreates 23 different sidewalk squares of downtown LA, creating an imaginary map of downtown that fits the space of her Glendale studio.

Artist Fiona Connor's work shoes photographed alongside part of her "Continuous sidewalk."

Fiona Connor’s feet with part of her Continuous Sidewalk in her studio.

(Jay L Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

As I strolled through the Fashion District with Connor last summer, she had already identified the lots she wanted to recreate after spending more time in the neighborhood while preparing for an exhibition at Chateau Shatto gallery in 2021. Connor adopted a more pedestrian-friendly lifestyle.

The sidewalks in the Fashion District that fascinated her the most were those that revealed their layers and betrayed the city’s history in a jumble of asphalt, brick, gravel and stone. “When you envision a city, you don’t envision it as a linear path. It’s a cacophony of different moments,” she explains. After photographing their favorite pavers several times, Connor digitally collaged the mostly 36″ x 36″ squares to create a fictional map of downtown. They were arranged “in an impossible way,” she says. “It becomes a memory arcade dream room.”

Architect and pedestrian advocate Daveed Kapoor met with Connor early in the research and concept development phase to discuss the history and maintenance of Los Angeles’ sidewalks. Kapoor admired Connor’s archaeological approach to documenting and recreating the plots.

“It creates a palimpsest of different eras,” he says, noting that unlike LA’s streets, which are the city’s responsibility to maintain, sidewalks are built and maintained by private developers.

A detail of "Continuous sidewalk" shows cement pavers with markings.

Fiona Connor’s “Continuous Sidewalk” recreates sections of sidewalks in downtown Los Angeles, reproducing the look and textures of the streets.

(Jay L Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Connor’s 1:1 version of the sidewalk squares required a single pour of concrete in her studio before she set to work, painstakingly recreating the cracks, crevices, graffiti, blackened gum residue, postage stamps and metal plates that are common on LA sidewalks. She records the debris of urban life, the echoes of the city’s past visible in the patches, and nature’s attempt to reclaim itself, all visible in the humble squares of concrete and asphalt.

When she first envisioned the piece, she envisioned it in her gallery. However, it quickly became clear that the piece’s physical weight would be precarious in the nearly hundred-year-old building. “I was intrigued by the idea,” says Olivia Barrett, the founder and owner of Chateau Shatto, “but I was concerned about the logistical issues involved in pouring a large quantity of cement into a 10th floor gallery.” Connor had to set it up in a ground floor room to support the weight, so Chateau Shatto agreed to present and direct the upcoming exhibition in their studio.

A woman's head and hand can be seen while looking at a sheet of black and white photos

Artist Fiona Connor with prints of her reference photography for Continuous Sidewalk.

(Jay L Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

This isn’t the first time Connor’s attention has been drawn to the more mundane elements of city life, worn down by neglect or corrosion. For several years, she has been recreating the doors of closed communal spaces in Los Angeles, New York and her native New Zealand.

Your 2022 exhibition “My muse is my memory, an archive of closed clubs” at Chateau Shatto This included sculptures she had already created in 2018, but after the COVID crisis they felt new. The 1:1 reproductions of the doors of Greenblatt’s Deli, Circus of Books, and Hop Louie served as a powerful reminder not only of the restaurants, bars, and clubs that the city had lost, but also of the sense of community and caring that those spaces held embodied.

A cement rectangle in the ground with a metal frame and a round metal grid in the middle.

A detail of artist Fiona Connor’s Continuous Sidewalk photographed in her studio.

(Jay L Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

If Connor’s “Closed Down Clubs” were portals, then “Continuous Sidewalk” is a channel. A city’s sidewalks are a universal infrastructure. They are perhaps the most mundane feature of a cityscape, but crucial to activating shared public spaces – socially, economically and physically. “It’s how we get in and out of every store and home,” says Kapoor. “There’s no way to avoid them.”

A woman sits on a metal stool in her art studio.

Artist Fiona Connor in her studio with her recreated sections of DTLA sidewalks.

(Jay L Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Fiona Connor: Continuous sidewalk

Where: Chateau Shatto, 621 Ruberta Ave., No. 3, Glendale
When: Friday 12 noon to 7 p.m., Saturday 12 noon to 4 p.m. by appointment. Until September 30th.
The information:

Emma Bowman

Emma Bowman is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Emma Bowman joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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