Art or public service? Richard Ankrom paints LA freeway sign that looks just like the real thing

Richard Ankrom added an Interstate 5 icon and the word “North” to the corner of the 110 North Pasadena sign — 20 years ago this month. Photo by Shutterstock.

LA artist Richard Ankrom installed his most celebrated piece of public art 20 years ago this month. It was a small addition to an overhead sign on the 110 North freeway downtown, which just said “110 North Pasadena” across its wide, green canvas. He simply added an Interstate 5 icon, and the word “North” to the corner of the sign. 

Ankrom had once missed the off-ramp to the 5 North, and blamed the lack of signage preparing drivers for what’s coming. He gathered a few of his friends to videotape him going up on the freeway sign catwalk in the middle of the day, above lanes of cars zooming by, to install the sign himself.