What's With That Mermaid On The 10 Freeway?

You may have caught sight of it while driving on the 10 Freeway: a mermaid swimming against the current of traffic, affixed to the side of a retaining wall. This anomaly can be found by the westbound lanes on the 10 in the Cheviot Hills area, after the National Boulevard exit.

It's been there for more than two years, provoking countless drivers to wonder how this ocean wonder had gotten there. The L.A. Times got to the bottom of it and discovered that the sculpture is the work of Bohemia Incorporated, a street art collective that's comprised of two members (who prefer to remain anonymous). As the group (also called #binc) told the Times, they often build pieces that are made of Styrofoam and later painted to resemble concrete. They said that there was no particular inspiration for the mermaid piece; the idea just came about during the process. “We used a lot of scraps for that one and sometimes you look at a scrap and that inspires the image," the group told the Times. When LAist asked #binc how they'd managed to put up the piece (like, did they do it in the dead of night? did anyone notice?) the group declined to divulge the tricks of their trade. "We don't talk about how and when," they wrote in an Instagram message, adding a sly, smiling emoji.

Here's the mermaid on #binc's Instagram:

And here are some other projects they put up along the freeways. Unlike the mermaid piece, which #binc says "Caltrans seems to like," the others have been taken down. It's easy to see why, too; some of the pieces are more noticeable, thanks to either their color or size. The mermaid project is relatively subdued, and thus blends in with the environs better.



Caltrans has a slightly different take than #binc on the mermaid, however. "Caltrans supports enriching the cultural and visual environment of the transportation system and local communities by facilitating placement of approved art within the state highway right of way," Michael Comeaux, a public information officer at Caltrans District 7, told LAist in an email. "At the same time, Caltrans is responsible for keeping the state right of way clean, visually uncluttered and safe for the traveling public. Therefore, state law gives Caltrans authority to control art within the state highway right of way." Comeaux added that artists who want to have their art put up by roadways would have to sign an agreement that lays out Caltrans policy on the subject. No word on how long the mermaid will be up.

Speaking of guerilla art on the freeway, have you ever encountered the "Hollywood Heart"?