Monoliths are popping up from Romania to Utah. Meet the artists who put one up in California

Written by Amy Ta, produced by Angie Perrin

Over the past few weeks, monoliths have been spotted in Utah, Romania, England, and California. It’s unclear who’s putting up most of these monoliths. But Travis Kenney, Wade Mckenzie, and Jared Riddle are behind two monoliths in Atascadero, California. 

Kenney says their first one took a day to create. 

Mckenzie adds, “I called in a lot of favors to get me some parts made around the area. And we designed it at lunch, and made some phone calls at lunch, and had some parts cut and sent over to the shop, and started welding with Travis' dad into the night. We called Jared [Riddle] to come down. Because we're all avid hikers and runners and mountain bikers. I mean, not to boast, but we're [in] pretty good shape for 50 years old.”

The men carried the monolith up a mountain that night.

“We put it up there as like a fun thing, a piece of guerilla artwork. We were going to pull it down within like by the weekend. And if not, maybe a group of kids will take it and steal it and put it in their frat house or something,” says Mckenzie. 

Ultimately, someone did take the monolith and politicized it. 

“After it got taken down, we decided that we weren't going to let it bring us down. … We went [and] talked to a local person and asked what we should do with the next one. And they said, ‘Put it on top of the hill and make sure it doesn't leave.’ So we built a same identical one, but with a substructure that was engineered at Wade’s. Wade’s got a metal engineer fabrication shop,” says Kenney. 

He continues, “And we called in a lot more favors. We made it a lot stronger. We packed it up the hill because it was twice as heavy. … We carried 700 pounds of concrete and stuck it in the ground this time.”

Kenney says their project continues to morph, and they’re trying to find ways to benefit their town and trail. That includes hosting a virtual 5K and 10K, and portions of the proceeds will be forwarded to trail maintenance crews. 

“We've got a lot of people that love hiking and mountain biking, and a lot of a lot of trails that need some love. So we're going to start doing some stuff that we can use the funds to maintain our trails,” says Kenney.