Following the groundbreaking at Los Angeles State Historic Park, General Jackson and his wife Susan took a trip to the Rio de Los Angeles State Park “Bowtie” parcel for a look at an unusual public art project adjacent to the Los Angeles River. General Jackson met with artist Michael Parker who had just completed his sculpture “The Unfinished,” based on an Egyptian archaeological site known as the “Unfinished Obelisk.” Michael’s project involved excavating a 137 foot to-scale replica of the obelisk in Aswan, commissioned by Pharaoh Hatshepsut, which cracked before being completed and was consequently abandoned on site. Michael described his obelisk lying in wait next to the LA River as “a place to think about hierarchy and individual agency and the possible capabilities of a collective force.” Indeed the project was a shared undertaking, as State Parks aided Michael in clearing otherwise daunting bureaucratic hurdles, such as the environmental review process and permitting. Parks maintenance staff provided tools and technical assistance, and the “excavation” itself was performed as a collaborative effort by Michael’s students from the Cal State Long Beach Sculpture program, other artists, and friends.
Situated on an undeveloped parcel next to the only soft-bottomed section of the Los Angeles River known as the Glendale Narrows, the site and the project offer visitors the opportunity to view the river from an entirely new perspective – normally off limits to the general public. The project was completed in partnership with Clockshop, a non-profit arts and culture organization based in Elysian Park, or “Frogtown.” Clockshop wanted to include “The Unfinished” as part of their “Frogtown Furturo” series which takes a critical and varied look at the forces of river revitalization in their neighborhood. A special bonus for Michael was receiving permission to camp on-site during the construction and working into the wee hours to finish “The Unfinished.” Accompanied by the sound of flowing river and birds it was easy to imagine the Bowtie as it might be someday – a naturalized park and campsite nestled in the midst of urban Los Angeles. Extensive coverage of the project can be found on the KCET website