The Travel Angel
The Travel Angel keeps watch over travelers in a dingy corner of the Original Farmers Market at 3rd & Fairfax.
if you’ve ever spent time wandering about the stalls and restaurants of the Original Farmers Market at 3rd & Fairfax, you may have happened upon an unusual sight — a bespectacled old man with an old man mustache (bearing more than a passing resemblance to the late Stan Lee) dressed in an Aloha shirt, Bermuda shorts (or maybe cut-off jean shorts), and wearing what appears to be a pair of penny loafers. He’s got a camera around his neck and a massive pair of map- and postcard-encrusted wings sprout from his back.
This is the Travel Angel, created by artists Dean and Laura Larson for the “Community of Angels” public art initiative that started back in 2001.
A Community of Angels
The Community of Angels was a project organized by the L.A. Convention & Visitors Bureau in conjunction with the Volunteer Bureau, an organization from the the mayor’s office. It was inspired by the “Cows on Parade” public art display that started in Chicago in 1999.
The Community of Angels resulted in more than 200 fiberglass angels decorated by artists and installed in visible and popular spots around the city. If you lived in Los Angeles in 2000 through 2002, it was impossible to not see them.
Most of the angels were auctioned off to benefit youth programs around the city, so almost all the angels are gone no — though perhaps they’ve spiritually supplanted by Colette Miller’s Global Angel Wings Project.
If you’re interested in seeing what some of the angels looked like twenty years ago, Public Art in L.A. has curated a partial list of these angels along with photos.
The Travel Angel Must Travel
The Travel Angel originally held his vigil at the Los Angeles Public Library. You can see an image of him during his tenure there at Public Art in L.A.
But sometime in 2007, the Travel Angel journeyed to the Farmers Market, roosting in a spot on the northeastern side of the complex, next to Weiss Jewelers in an out-of-the-way alcove.
The informational plaque in front of him explains, “He wears local attire in an effort to blend in with those people living there.” I don’t see many people rocking the Travel Angel’s choice of sartorial splendor these days, but I can’t argue with the fact that he seems to blend in. People passing by consider him a curiosity at best — if he’s considered at all. Mostly, he seems to be ignored.
But still he keeps watch over all the travelers in Los Angeles, perpetually on vacation, observing the flow of humanity passing him by. As the plaque in front of him declares, “All add to his knowledge of the human experience.”
So next time you’re at the Original Farmers Market — or perhaps after doing a little shopping at The Grove — swing by the Travel Angel and let him know what you’re up to.
The Travel Angel
- The Original Farmer’s Market, 3rd & Fairfax, Los Angeles
- GPS Coordinates: 34.07214, -118.35992 [ Google Maps ]
- what3words: ///hogs.swear.tape