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A Perfume Artist Is Creating A Fragrance Of Each L.A. Neighborhood

LAAir.jpg
"Seven types of LA air." (via Brian Goeltzenleuchter's Facebook page)
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Brian Goeltzenleuchter wants to know how bad (or good) your L.A. neighborhood smells and make a perfume out of it.

The San Diego-based artist will have a one-day exhibition at the Santa Monica Museum of Art for Sillage, a "participatory scent-scape project about Los Angeles," where visitors can get a whiff of fragrances each inspired by different parts of what GQ once called the "smelliest place on earth."

While most people would probably say that the smells of the urban environment don't exactly recall Chanel No. 5, Goeltzenleuchter isn't particularly interested in concocting appealing scents or even replicating the smells of each neighborhood. Instead, he's more interested in creating "scentscapes," which are more evocative and captures the mood of each area.

"I'm very interested in these so-called ugly smells. It presents a real challenge to build something around it," he told the LA Times.

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To get a sense of fragrance notes in each neighborhood, Goeltzenleuchter put up an online survey and asked respondents about 10 sections of Los Angeles. Most of the responses aren't too far from the non-olfactory perception of each area. Santa Monica smells like grass and the ocean. Silver Lake smells like hipsters. Downtown smells like urine and traffic.

"Diesel fuel, fuel in salt water, bird poop, fish scales, Belgian waffles," said one response about an unidentified but obviously coastal neighborhood that Goeltzenleuchter posted on his Facebook page. Another response noted "freshly made papusas [sic] and asphalt." And the response that Goeltzenleuchter dubbed the "Shakespeare of my Sillage Survey":

bel-air, green and stale, brentwood, green and dry, beverlywood, suburban new stale dry wood, century city metal and stiff false and synthetic, mar vista the slight smell of spices cumin and turmeric from the indian places mixed with the blooming yellow flowers and small white ones. playa del rey has a bit more salt and ocean to it with a sunshine and ry sand, also an expansive smell of marsh and wet lands. mossy not musty has a earthy green mixed with salt air that has been sitting a bit too long. south robertson metallic and green. westwood has boring smells the cafe that is overpopulated and dry coffee the dry hard cement the cold people the over manicured lawns [sic]

"I made scents for motor oil, exhaust, BO, and asphalt. But no urine, even though that was the most surveyed smell in LA," Goeltzenleuchter said in a comment.

This project is old hat for Goeltzenleuchter, an artist-in-residence at L.A.'s Institute for Art and Olfaction, who created similar scent profiles for ZIP codes of San Diego and home fragrances inspired by art movements.

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Opening for one day only on June 28th, Goeltzenleuchter is still working on his fragrances and needs more input from residents of Northeast L.A. and The Valley.

And if you're wondering what Goeltzenleuchter's hyper-discerning schnoz thinks is the best smell ever, he said on Facebook, "It's the old leather basketballs we used to shoot with at Poway High."